Some time ago News.com recently came up with an article suggesting the six books to read to become a successful CEO of a corporation. Three leading CEO's were asked to list two books to recommend for such a list. These were Gilman Wong, CEO Sirtex Medical Limited, John Hughes, CEO Thorn Group Limited and Radek Sali, CEO Swisse Vitamins.
This is as applicable today as it was then. The suggested reading ranged from books on war, getting ahead, the value of trust, ways to progress, an allegory and a personal testimony. The breadth of this genre illustrates that to succeed in business is more than just good luck, contacts, networks and a good head, rather there is a breadth of philosophy of life.
In a recent article by Rosie Timmins one of our young writers, quotes the Pastor's Pastor Reverend Dr Rowland Croucher who recommended 25 books a Christian leader might get a handle on.
As I pondered this article, I reflected on some of the books I read which has provided me a philosophy of life for 65 years and for my ministry of 40 years. I founded and development of the Sports and Leisure Ministry to Australia's professional sport 1982–2000, the Olympic Ministry Medal 2009, Athlete and missionary Respite from 1992, the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years and for the past 17 years Life After Cricket and now mentoring young writers from Australian and New Zealand in Christian Today.
In these years I've travelled the world numerous times, was on the international preaching circuit, written 24 books, a weekly ministry blog and a daily columnist for Christian Today and serve as their Theological and Philosophical Advisor.
Prior to seminary, I was a locomotive engineman on the New South Wales Government Railways firing steam on the main south line in the late '60s and witnessed the transition from the steam age to the diesel age. In those years I was a mature aged student at Wollongong University engaged in economics and history and then at seminary winning two academic prizes and first class honours and went on to do two doctoral dissertations.
Moreover, my wife Delma and I have been faith financed missionaries for 40 years; we have four adult children and are grandparents, and a typical Australian family celebrating birthdays, engagements, weddings, the second generation, parent's deaths and the rest of it.
Therefore it seemed that the selection of books I read in my early years may be of interest.
Six books that helped my philosophy
One book that really helped me get a good grip on human nature and the way of politics was William Sheraer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I read this in my first year at seminary as a counter balance to what I reading for a theological degree.
Another book I found very helpful was the complete works of (1) Henry Lawson and (2) Banjo Patterson. We all read something of these in school but it was important to me to get a better understanding on my Australian culture and its heritage.
A third book was Patsy Adam Smith's book on the Anzacs and how that chapter in our history has had such an impact. Her story of the Padres was an eye opener and of their enormous value. The comment of one of the Padre's answering the perennial question of, What is war? His response was writing letters to wives and mothers, fathers and brothers, fiances and sweethearts.
Brown on Resolution written by C S Forrester was a book I read at school from the library. This is a book about endurance, fortitude, clear thinking, taking thoughtful chances, beating the odds and championing a cause. As a stutterer it was a wonderful book to illustrate that a disability such as a severe speech impediment was no reason for not having a go. I have the DVD in my library “Sailor of the King”.
Leon Oberg's book Locomotives of Australia. Yes, I realise I was a keen railway man and loved the huge diesels and drove them with joy and excitement, but this book demonstrated that the various manufacturers of diesel locomotives achieved the same goal in different ways. It created in me a value of creative ideas.
A book on a Missionary Doctor who served an African community in the early 70s, influenced me immensely. He was man who could have been a Harley Street Specialist, yet upon the Call of the Lord served faithfully for 50 years in Africa in often appalling surgical conditions. It inspired sacrifice, commitment, never say die, nu-relentless fortitude, forget the odds, seek the Lord to see it through …
These were six books that each in their own way greatly influenced me. You'll no doubt have your own six most influential books.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html