A Different Person

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet

and the books you read.”

—Charlie “Tremendous” Jones


I finished fifty-four books in 2018. I know because I kept a list. I’m not sure why I did this. I haven’t kept a list of what I’ve read before, but I might choose to do it again because, as I look over my list, I see within it a reflection of my year.

It began with a journey of faith and self-discovery through books such as Mike McHargue’s Finding God in the Waves, Ian Morgan Crohn and Suzanne Stabile’s The Road Back to You, Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward, and Peter Enns’ The Bible Tells Me So.

It continued with a focus on the meaning of work through Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor, Jeff Goins’s The Art of Work, Angela Duckworth’s Grit, Rory Vaden’s Take the Stairs, and Bob Buford’s Halftime.

It made occasional rest stops for some excellent works of fiction recommended by good friends: Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and Neal Shusterman’s Scythe and Thunderhead.

The year concluded with a consideration of how to lead others effectively: Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, Max DePree’s Leadership Is an Art, Henry Cloud’s Boundaries for Leaders, and James Kouzes and Barry Posner’s The Leadership Challenge.

While Charlie “Tremendous” Jones omits other significant factors that tend to change a person over the course of five years (think illness, injury, job loss, death of a loved one), in the absence of tragedy, I think he’s on to something: “The people [we] meet and the books [we] read” play a crucial role in shaping the people we become.

I am a different person today because of the books I read last year and the conversations they prompted with friends both new and old: my faith in God is stronger; I am more self-aware; I am more intentional about how I spend my time and with whom I spend it; I have a more comprehensive understanding of meaningful work; and I have gained the confidence to step outside my comfort zone.

This journey has led me to make some difficult decisions, one of which is to step down from my role as editor of the Christian Educators Journal once a replacement is found. Editing the CEJ for the last three years has filled my cup in so many ways, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to do so. I leave with great appreciation for the journal’s faithful readers, thoughtful writers, skilled staff, and devoted board of directors. Along with the books I’ve read this year, I am grateful for the ways in which you all have helped shape me as well.

It is my sincere hope that the issues of the last three years, the books recommended to you in this month’s issue, and the articles that will be published in future issues of the CEJ, will play a role in shaping you as a Christian educator, spouse, parent, and friend.

Mark Brink teaches English at Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville, MI.