What I’m Reading: It’s Personal

One of the things that I’ve wanted to post about but haven’t been great about posting is what I’m reading. I’ve posted about a few previous reads before and I like it more for my own benefit to put down on “paper”, so to speak, what I’m learning from the book.

For this most recent book I’ve been reading It’s Personal. The curriculum we use at my church, Orange, put it out this last year at their conference and we actually worked through it as an elementary staff.

Essentially what the book boils down to is 5 questions we can ask or try to answer for the people that we minister to; to help make it personal.

  1. Do you know my name?
  2. Do you know what matters to me?
  3. Do you know where I live?
  4. Do you know what I’ve done?
  5. Do you know what I can do?

Each of these could be a post in and of themselves but I’ll leave you with the thesis to the book and reason you should give it a read.

A shallow approach to life (or specifically ministry) can rob leaders of their potential to give a kid or teenager hope.

I think in a world of instagram filters and limited characters and attention spans it takes all of the intentionality you have not to drift toward shallow.

Here are a few of the tangible ideas that I’ve gotten from the book and am trying to implement.

  1. To answer the question- do you know my name I’ve actually created flash cards to help me remember some peoples names. It may sound silly but I’m working very hard to not let “I’m bad with names” be my excuse. The truth is I say my own kids names wrong half the time so if remembering someone’s name communicates to them I value and care for them; it’s worth me doing whatever I need to, to do that well.
  2. To help answer the question do you know what matters to me I’ve purposefully tried to engage people more in small talk. I’m really bad at small talk and can be awkward but by letting people just talk they have a way of expressing what matters to them.
  3. To help answer the question do you know where I live (basically do you understand my context- where I come from) I’ve tried to ask people more often. “Tell me a little bit about your story.” The other thing I’m doing is scheduling my time better (expect a future blog post about that). When I manage my time well I am able to schedule time to visit other people in their context.
  4. To help answer the question do you know what I’ve done; honestly I’ve just tried to be more open about my struggles. Getting personal and past the shallow with the people you serve takes time and it also takes vulnerability on your part. So expressing some of my own failures and struggles has helped me communicate that people are safe around me.
  5. To answer the question, do you know what I can do; I’ve started asking people more often what they enjoy doing or where they see themselves in a few years. More than that though I’ve started writing down and scheduling specific time to pray for specific people and that God would help me answer the question: what can they do; and what can God use me to help them do.

So here’s what I’m reading and learning. I recommend It’s Personal. In a very thoughtful way it takes the story of Zacchaeus and draws these great questions out of it in a way I hadn’t seen before.

Let me know what you’re reading or what I should read next and let me know if hearing what I’m reading is helpful for you.


  1. Thanks for the post Jesse, sounds like a great book. I just ordered it and look forward to reading it. I am currently reading Dr. Lowry’s comic belief. It helps me wind down at the end of the day and get work off of my mind before bed. It is perfect because they are all self contained short stories with their own valuable truths. I also just started Carnegie’s How to win friends and influence pepple in a digital age. Even though I just started it, it has highlighted the importance of the pleasantries and the need to be personable in an age where communication is so fast and instant that the small things like saying good morning or have a great day in an email often get left behind. The importance of people and relationships, not just information exchange.


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