I think I may have shared this with you a while back but, it’s a new year so here we are…
I’ve been working in library services for just over 5 years now. In this time, I have seen some really good things happen as well as some really not-so-good things happen. There have been some good days as well as bad days and there have definitely been “some hills to climb.” There are days when I didn’t mind waking up and coming in and there were days that I looked at my wife and
almost totally threw a tantrum because I really did NOT want to go in. Then there are those Saturdays that I have to go in and work for 8 hours while my family is at home or out doing stuff (you’d be surprised how may times I would have rather been walking through Michael’s with my wife instead of being at work.) Honestly, I have been looking for another job for the past 5 years but nothing seems to pan out. Each time I would see something that I feel that I’m qualified for (I was an IT guy since 2000) and I would post for it. Then I would get the customary email stating, in essence, “don’t call us, we’ll call you…” only to get that “we’ll call you…” in the form of a “We’ve found someone else but thanks for playing.” Talk about frustrating!!
You’re probably saying, “What does this have to do with ministry?” Well, I’m glad you asked. See, it’s not so much the job description but, that last sentence we all see: “Other duties as assigned.” That’s where a lot of the work comes in. In the library, we have to greet people from all walks of life as they walk through the doors…Literally. Then there are the folks that come in just to utilize the free services that we offer as opposed to coming to the library for it’s primary purpose of checking out books. Of those two groups of people, the former is bigger that the latter. Then we have the people that are the best example I can give for digital illiteracy — totally unable to work a mouse much less remember their passwords to their email. Then there are the ones that will need your help for every single thing. “Can you show me how to find this book?” or my personal favorite, “What kind of books do you have?” These are the things that have been seen just working in the library on any given day.
By comparison, when you are involved in ministry, some of these same types of people will come through the doors of the church. This is when ministers add “Other duties as assigned” to their perspective resumes. Every time we step foot in our perspective churches we have to make sure that we greet each person — member as well as visitor — literally. Greetings have to go beyond eye contact. There are some folks that will only come to church in order to utilize the free services that some churches offer. How many times have we heard about people that will come to church just for the food pantry or maybe even a bus pass or even vouchers for homeless shelters? Then there are the folks that will always suffer from biblical illiteracy. They couldn’t tell Ezekiel apart from 3 John. Finally, there are those folks that will ask, “Can you show me in the bible where it says (enter whatever debatable scriptural reference that was probably taken out of context.)
If you have not seen the comparison, allow me to break this down for you. The same characteristics that I have seen in the library, I have seen in ministry. People in both places came for help. People in both places have a need of some sort. People in both places came because there was no where else to go or they were told to come by someone else. Also, there are many times parents have dropped their kids off at the library for hours. The same thing happens at church. Now do you understand? The library has prepared me for ministry whether I wanted it to or not. Whether I liked it or not. Whether I was ready or not. Be it a library or a church, I will always have “Other duties as assigned…”