My latest entry on More To Life Magazine's Blog was posted on January 16, 2015.
Click HERE to read the edited, published version.
To see my original, unedited version, it is below.
I’m an educator. Assistant principal. I have a Bachelors Degree, two Masters Degrees, and I’m ordained. I’ve written two published novels so far (more on the way) and have a non-fiction Bible study for writers being shopped to editors by my agent as we speak.
I’m not bragging (and if you knew me, you’d know that’s not my M.O.). I’m making a point.
Growing up, if you would have read that first paragraph to any of my teachers and asked them, “This is going to be one of your students at age 52. Which student is it?” My name would never have come up. Not a mention. Not a whisper. Not a chance.
Why? Because I was your typical boy.
Rambunctious. Often rude. Spoke my mind when it wasn’t in gear and kept my mouth closed when I needed to answer. Was intelligent but often applied it incorrectly. I didn’t know God and was a terrible reader (I would have been an Intensive Reading student if they had such things back then).
Would you want me in your class?
Then, one summer, we took a little weekend vacation to Daytona Beach. Got there on a Friday, and it was raining. So, that night, we stopped at a little mall after dinner. My mom, a big reader, dragged us into a bookstore, and I browsed around, lamenting our current state of affairs, until a book caught my eye.
It was 1975, and the movie had just come out in theaters. I wanted to see it, so I picked up the book. When I started looking at it, my mom, after surviving the small coronary she must have experienced, walked over and asked if I wanted her to buy the book. She had already promised to take me and my friend to see the movie, so she probably thought she’d capitalize on this rare opportunity.
Mom had purchased books for me in the past. Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders was the first one I remember reading. I struggled through it. It was about a dog being abused, told in first person by Joe himself. I liked dogs at the time, but not reading about them. So that became a swing and a miss for Mom.
Jaws, on the other hand, was entirely different. I devoured Jaws (pun intended) in less than two weeks. A speed record for me. A home run for Mom.
That book became the key which opened the doors to reading for me. After finishing Jaws, I was left wondering if sharks really do jump on the back of boats and if they really can get 25-feet long. That sent me on a quest to find answers because, deep down, I wanted to be a marine biologist at the time. What my mother didn’t probably understand was she, unwittingly, had tapped into something which I was DEEPLY interested.
That’s the key. If you’re like my mom and have a struggling reader, find that key. That interest buried inside. It may not be buried very deep, but for some reason, no one has taken the time to listen and hear the heart for reading, beating just underneath the surface. Once the key is found, find the reading material that revolves around it. Those of us who are struggling readers have tricked ourselves into thinking, “I hate reading.” It’s not reading we hate, actually. We hate being force fed things in school that we have no interest in. Year after year. Grade level by grade level. Until finally, we are convinced there is nothing good out there to read, or someone surely would have introduced it to us by high school, right? The system breeds a disdain for reading, ironic as that may seem.
If someone would take the time to find out what our interests are, then as we start to read about things we ARE interested in, and we start LEARNING new things. The key slides into the lock and unlatches the mechanism that has held us hostage far too long. Then, as we are afforded materials to read at this critical juncture, it’s not long before we’re finding them on our own…and the doors get blown off the hinges because LEARNING is FUN and ENGAGING. Comprehension increases, reading becomes easier, grades often improve, life becomes wondrous.
Now, here I sit. The doors to reading were blown off the hinges years ago. Yet, I’m still a slow reader. I only finish a handful of books a year. As a Christian, I often think to myself, “If I had not become a student who realized I love reading after all, where would I be in my Christian walk?” For us to grow in Christ, what must we do?
Read. God’s Word.
No small feat for a struggling reader, especially if you’re handed a King James version or are not a big World History aficionado. And worse if you still hate to read.
Yet, I think Satan has known this from the time Moses put quill to papyrus (pen to paper for us modern folks). “If I can get them to sin,” he probably thought early on, “and have the writings of God destroyed (Early Israeli history at the bottom of Mount Sinai), and if I can cause them to be carried off into captivity so they have no access to God’s writings (Babylonian-Assyrian periods), and if I can confound the writings of God with bureaucratic duplicity (from emerging Greek and Roman Empires through Constantine’s reign), and if I can make the people ignorant so they don’t understand God’s writings (Middle Ages when so much was written and preached in Latin), and if I can eventually make reading a nemesis for young people by capturing their hearts with an electronic age, filled with computers and gaming and cell phones, then just think of how many of these dolts I’ll separate from God for all eternity?”
By not taking the time to get our young people interested in reading so that they can read for themselves, in essence, we develop a de facto “peasant state” who has to believe the “lords” and “governors” of the region because they can’t read and think critically for themselves.
Aristotle said, “It’s the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
May I say, it’s a the mark of a Godly mind as well (Read 1 John 4:1-6; Galatians 1:6-10; Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 33-35, 38-39, 43-44; 6:1-4, 5-6, 16-17, 19-20).
You can’t know what God’s Word says if you never read and comprehend it.
C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister, having served churches in New York, Mississippi, Texas, and Iowa. He is married (for 33+ years), has three daughters, two sons-in-law, and five grandchildren. He speaks in churches on occasion, presently works as an assistant principal in a Central Florida school district, and plays the drums in his church’s praise team. He is a huge fan of the TV series 24 , The Blacklist, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.
Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), ACFW, and Word Weavers International, and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (OakTara, 2012; winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1 (OakTara 2013), as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.
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