Working in a Library is Ministry Preparation…

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…”

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Be humble, but don’t take no mess…

Something happened to me over the weekend.  It was something that I did not expect but needed to happen, nonetheless.  It has been said countless times, “the day you stop learning is the say you die.”  Well the other day was no exception because I got some learning that I needed to get.  After sharing with it with my wife and wrestling with it for a couple of days, I prayed about it because I was pretty angry, to the point that I was ready to make some drastic changes.  Then God spoke to me through 1 Peter.

Now, I cannot equate with what the recipients of Peter’s first letter may have gone through.  What I can say is that what he said to the church in his letter can speak to anyone that has or is going through some sort of malaise.  If we look at chapter 5 in Peter’s first letter, we find him giving words of wisdom, warning and encouragement.  This is what he says in verses 5-6:

 

In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because

God resists the proud
but gives grace to the humble.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.

 

There will be times in our lives where will be subject to those that are over us.  This can be on the job as well as in the church.  Peter is telling us that we should also show humility toward our brothers and sisters.  In other words, in all of these examples, there has to be a sense of humility involved.  If you think you know everything or if you think that you are unable to learn anything, you will not be able to flourish in ministry, or anything else you feel God has called you to.  If I may quote lyric from Kendrick Lamar, “Be humble, sit down.”

Now before you say anything, let me remind you that verse 5 says that God gives, “grace to the humble.”  However, I need you to hear me out for e second.  Even though Peter advises us to be humble, he also reminds us that humility does NOT mean we have to take any mess either.  Look at what Peter is telling us in verses 8:

 

Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world.

 

In other words, we must be humble but we also must be cautious.  While we are busy being as humble as we know how, there are those times when the enemy see this as a vulnerability.  He will try to attack you through your family.  He will try to attack you through your job.  He will even try to attack you through your ministry.  Anyplace that God has asked you to show humility, Satan thinks you have a weak spot.  This is why Peter reminds us, “Be serious!” and, “Be alert!”  Another thing to remember is that you are not the only one that is going through something.  Peter is telling the recipients of this letter that they are to resist and be firm because what they are suffering through, other believers are suffering just as well.

Finally, we get the encouragement and reassurance from Peter that it is God that has been taking care of you this whole time:

 

10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little. 11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen.

 

Yes, God wants us to be humble.  Yes, God also wants us to be cautious and serious.  Most importantly, God wants us to be reassured.  He is the one that called you and He is the one that will sustain you.  This why this passage speaks so clearly to me.  I had forgotten who called me.  Yeah, I just graduated from college and no one can take my degree away from me. But had it not been for “the God of all grace”, I would never have finished.

He personally restores me when I feel let down

He personally establishes me by setting me apart

He strengthens me when I am weak

He supports when folks are against me

He can do all of these things because He has the dominion over all and has it forever.

This is a powerful lesson that we need to learn.  God has called us for a purpose and since He has called us for His purpose, we have to understand that there will be some conflict.  Not because we are doing anything wrong necessarily.  That was the lesson for me.  What happened to me, the other day made me mad.  Actually, I was more hurt than mad but the anger swelled.  I know that I have been faithful to my ministry.  The lesson in humility that I had to learn was that people have the right to question my commitment to my ministry.  The rub is, I also have the right to take offense to the question of my commitment.  Now, I don’t equate myself to Paul but even he got mad when his ministry was questioned.  Thankfully, I know that God called me and I ultimately have to answer to Him in the end.  He knows my struggle and knows what I have endured.  I am so thankful for the God of all grace…

 

 

P. K. Minister: College Graduate

Well, the day has finally arrived.  I have turned in all of my assignments and written all of my papers.  Now I have to just sit and wait until the final day of class (12/14/18) and it will be all over.

I know you are probably wondering where I have been (hopefully you have…lol) these past few years.  A lot has happened since we’ve shared this blog space together.  I’ve gotten re-married (just over two years), I now have a Senior in high school and a 6th grader and, of course, I have been doing this school thing.  There have been some struggles along the way,  mainly in math.  I’ve never been that great in the subject so a grade of C is really a grade of A as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve also been quite busy at church.  When I’m not preaching, I have also been doing some teaching.  I think that has been the most rewarding feeling.  All that going on has been the reason that I have been away.  2019 should be a little better for me, hopefully.

Speaking of which, I was also accepted into the Seminary at Liberty University.  I will be earning my Master of Divinity in biblical languages.  There were quite a few areas of focus that I could have chosen from but, biblical languages stood out the most.  There is something about learning biblical Greek and Hebrew that really kinda brings out the nerd in me so, here we are.

I want to wish you all a happy and safe holiday season, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

God Bless.

Words Hurt: Bad fathers are Evident…So are the good ones.

 

Hello,

It’s been a while since I have written anything.  Life has been happening and is still happening as we speak.  With school, my upcoming marriage, and children, time seems to get away from me.  This isn’t any excuse, per se.  Just an observation.

Speaking of children, I would like to talk about fathers for a second.  Yes, we get that annual day where we have the opportunity to be celebrated but there is a lot that is unseen during the other 364 days.  Now, I do not claim to be an expert in the art of Fatherhood, nor am I downplaying the art of Motherhood.  What seems to be prevalent are the numerous opinions and think-pieces about how there are so many bad fathers out there without too many opinions of think-pieces about the good ones:

The good ones that, despite lack of whatever, they still manage to sacrifice what they have so that their children get what they need.

The good ones that are trying to do the best that they can.

The good ones that are managing a career, school, etc. without neglecting their children.

Those guys.

Again, I am not trying to shame mothers in any way.  I just want the record straight.  When fatherhood is reduced to the showing of bad opinions, unresolved feelings, name calling and general disdain, it takes away from the MEN out here taking it to the max.  In other words, there could be a reason why “part-time dads”exist that have nothing to do with them actually being part-time.  Maybe, just maybe, their “part-time” status is not their doing.  Maybe, their “full-time” status has been reduced because of said issues above.  IT JUST MAY BE NOT THEIR FAULT!

For the Gentlemen doing the best that they can, this does not give you the option to slack off or stop.  This means that, despite what may be said about you, you keep doing what you’re doing…if not more.  Don’t let the words of some dictate how you help raise your children (some of this is directed right at me).  Stay focused, stay involved.  No matter the situation or circumstance, your impact matters.  You were given a gift(s) from God and the very least you can do is show appreciation by being present, involved, and dedicated.  That’s only the minimum.  The more you add makes it that much sweeter in the end.

Until next time…

(Photo courtesy of voicemalemagazine.org)

Love in the Lunch

I was at work the other day and it was time for lunch.  I went to the fridge in the break room and took my lunch out. I opened the bag and put my container in the microwave to warm up my food.  When it was done I went to my desk to start eating.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  However, when I looked in the bag I saw a note.  It was a yellow sticky that read, “Have a good day at work babe.  I love you.”  Did I mention that my fiance was here visiting? Well, she was.  She was here for 10 days from Wednesday before Father’s Day until yesterday morning.  Normally, eating leftovers isn’t really a big deal but, there was something special about what was in the bag today.  She put love in my lunch.  This may not seem like a bog deal to some of you out there reading this but, to me, this was extra special.  For starters, I didn’t know she slipped the note in my lunch bag.  Second, she did it when I wasn’t really expecting it. Third, I wasn’t in the best mood since my car is acting up, yet again.  All I know that there was not in my bag that I did not expect and it was right on time.

This makes me think of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.  “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (1 Cor 13:1-2).  You see all throughout life we have the opportunity to do things to and for people.  We have the chance, every single day to do something good.  The key is that you have to do it in love otherwise, what’s the point? If I tell you that I am going to do something for you just to let you know that I did something for you, that’s not what it’s about.  If my service to humanity is insistent upon itself, I’m not doing what Paul, more so what Christ has been trying to teach us.  In fact, it’s just a bunch of noise for my own gratification.  Not cool at all.

I said all of this to say that I love the Love in the Lunch.  It really made me feel special and it definitely made my day brighter.  I’m looking forward to more of the same and can’t wait until I can’t return the love.

What Ministry Has Taught Me While Working in a Library

I have not posted anything here in a good while so I pray that everything is going well with you.  School, work, fatherhood, and ministry have taken up quite a bit of my time as of late.  Hopefully, if things slow down, I will be able to share with you a little bit more.  In the meantime, I’m asking for prayer and patience.

I’m not sure that some of you know but, I work in the library system.  I got this job almost 3 years ago.  To be truthful, this was not my first choice–I’m in the IT field and I kinda miss it–But I’m still thankful in the long run because this experience has given me a glimpse of what the Pastorate feels like.  Let me give you a few examples.

1.  Everyone that comes in needs help in some way.  My branch is open Monday-Saturday.  During the times that we are open, there are several people who come in that need help.  Some of these people are regulars and some aren’t.  This is not unlike your local churches where we have some members that have been there for decades but there are the occasional visitor that will come to worship.

2.  There are some that want your help.  Of the people who visit the branch on a daily basis, there are some folks that really need your help.  It could be looking for a book to read for themselves or their child or looking for directions to a location in the city or faxing paperwork to various agencies or even needing help with research on the computer.  At the church, there are folks that come to worship but they are in need of prayer, healing or a question regarding scripture.  They come because there is something missing in their lives and they feel the church is the place where they can get it.

3.  There are some that don’t want your help.  This is interesting.  There have been many times where a patron has come into the branch and did not or does not want your help.  I could go into several reasons why but that could take a while but to give you one example, we offer free computer classes every week where I personally teach basic computer skills.  Remember those folks that come on but don’t want help?  Well they fit into this category because sometimes, my class attendance may be two to three at the most.  Again, the church is parallel to this scenario.  Some folks will come but will refuse to the help that we offer.  Like the library, there are several reasons why but there are too many to name here as well.  Remember the ones that have questions about scripture?  Well, a lot of churches have bible study during the week with a regular attendance of just a few so, where are the folks that have questions?

So what is my point to all of this?  Well, it’s simple.  Since I have been in ministry longer than I have been at the library, I had to come to terms with the fact that both places are a lot alike.  The only thing in common from my perspective is that I’m at both places and I am also there to serve the folks that come in.  Is it frustrating? Sure.  Are there days where I don’t want to go to either place? Definitely.  However I have to remember that it really isn’t about me but who I am serving and who I am trying to help.  It can be draining mentally and sometimes physically but when it’s all said and done, I know I will be back to do it all over again.

Ready for Sweet Sixteen

Happy New Year!!  Well, we have made through and past 2015 and now, it’s time to see what’s in store for 2016.  I pray that you have you all had a great holiday season.

I can say that this year has really been a good one overall.  There have been some trying times but there were definitely more good times than bad.  I was able to do a lot of preaching last year.  That was a real blessing because it was something that I had not expected.  School has been going fairly well.  As of now, I am a sophomore in college.  Talk about an accomplishment.  Schoolwork, being a Dad, being a Minister, and working full-time is one thing that is not for the faint of heart.  To be honest, I didn’t think I had the energy to get all of this done.  When I tell you that this was all because of God’s grace, believe me, it was.  Now, I am ready to do it all over again.

Another thing that 2015 taught me was that I was able to love again.  I really thought that I had lost that gift but, it was there all along.  I just needed someone to give love to.  It was a hard battle to fight since I pride myself in looking at things logically.  Logic had to take a back seat this time otherwise, I would have missed out.  Once again, God did exactly what He set out to do.  Now I am engaged to a woman that really loves me despite my short-comings and in spite of my logical reasoning.  In other words, she wouldn’t take no for an answer and neither would I.

Well, I think that is all for now.  I will talk to you all again, soon…