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.

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She Was Worth My Time

Well, I’m almost 90 days into the new gig. There are days when I really feel as if I’m not being challenged enough. As the resident Technical Assistant, I get asked many questions that are technical in nature and, because I work in a library, I get asked questions about books. Not my favorite part of the job but hey, it could be worse.

Today was basically like any other day. Lots of questions, etc. However, things got interesting when she showed up. There she was, iPad in hand and ready to learn whatever it was I was willing to teach her. We sat at one of the tables and I began to give her information about the topics she wanted to know about. We went on and on about how the iDevices worked and the differences between operating systems, browsers, and search engines. She had so many questions and I made sure that I was able to answer them correctly and intelligently (NOTE: There is nothing worse than an “expert” that doesn’t know what he’s talking about). We seemed to be makin some progress when all of a sudden she switched gears on me. She brought up how she was trying to learn Spanish so we took to her iPad to look for a good Spanish book for her and we were successful.

After we found the eBook for her, It was my turn to listen. She started telling me one of the reasons why she was interested in learning Spanish. Apparently, her neighbors speak Spanish fluently and she wants to be able to understand and even have conversation with them. She also spoke about how she had forgotten most of the German she spoke from when she was a little girl. Did I mention she was born in 1928? Did I also mention that she is French? Yes, I was having a real-live conversation with a “young-at-heart” lady about her adventures when grew up and lived in France during the war and after. It really was interesting to hear all of this considering I was there to help her with her device. Turns out that I got the lesson today and a history lesson at that.

All of my years in the Army and all of the stories I’ve heard from Veterans sort of pale in comparison to first hand knowledge from someone who wasn’t in uniform. She told me about how her brother was killed when he was only 19 during the war. I really felt bad but she went on about how they used to ride her bike with her brother when they were younger. She also talked about how she got married to an American and had a daughter who, incidentally introduced me to her 2 weeks ago. The stories about how her family grew up poor but were wealthy because they had each other made me smile. After about an hour and a half she said that she had to go but would be ready for my class on MS Word tomorrow. I told her that I was looking forward to it. I said my goodbye in the little bit of French that I remembered from high school and walked her to the door of the library.

I have to make sure I am totally prepared for this class tomorrow. I know at the very least, my favorite student will be there.