I haven't posted much in the past couple of weeks as I've been with our son in Philadelphia helping him after his knee surgery earlier last week. I'm glad to say he is recovering nicely and was able to start driving again last Sunday. It is about a ten hour drive from our home to his which is a pretty good drive when you're alone. Due to some things happening at her work my wife wasn't able to go with me so we weren't able to share the driving. I'm used to a lot of driving in my role as an Area Resource Minister, but ten hours on the road alone is still a bit much, and on the way back it seemed even longer. I made an extra stop or two, grabbed an occasional Starbucks coffee, and listened to a lot of podcasts.
Years ago I learned that time alone in a car is a great opportunity to learn. Back then I had numerous cassette tapes of various speakers. Every half-hour or so I would have to turn the tape over and listen to the other side, and having a bunch of tapes in the passenger seat was a mess. At some point I could always figure some of the them would find their way into the floorboad. When CDs came out it made life a little easier, but they were often a little more expensive. Two years ago our son gave me an I-Pod for Christmas, and life hasn't been the same. I can download podcasts from some of my favority speakers for free, plug it into my car speaker system, and I've got one small device with hundreds of podcasts and songs to listen to while driving. I can save the ones that I want to hear again, delete the others, and keep adding new ones to listen to on my next drive.
On this last road trip I listened to several Dave Ramsey podcasts as well as a couple of his EntreLeadership podcasts. I also listened to Ravi Zacharias and William Lane Craig discuss issues related to Christian apologetics. In addition, I heard podcasts from Freakonomics Radio and Tony Campolo. Finally, I listened to a sermon from one of the church services I download. When I got tired of listening to the podcasts I could choose from about 150 songs I've got on this device that include a mix of Southern Gospel, Blues, Country, early rock-and-roll, and a handful of modern songs that I got for free from Starbucks.
I'm not trying to sell I-Pods. What I am doing is suggesting that time spent in the car can be productive, and this is very good news for the busy bivocational minister who wants to find ways to learn and grow. Whether you are driving half-way across the country or across town, the time you spend in your automobile can be used to learn new things and be exposed to new ideas. You can listen to motivational and informative speakers who will challenge and encourage you. Sometimes I download a new podcast and find that it really isn't helpful or interesting. It cost me nothing, and the next time I sync my I-Pod I just delete it. Sometimes I find that something new is also something very interesting. That was the case with Freakonomics Radio. I enjoyed the book Freakonomics and when I saw they had a podcast I downloaded it. It has been very interesting to hear their take on some of today's issues. I don't always agree with their conclusions, but it exposes me to new ways of looking at things and helps me better understand how some people view some of life's issues. That's good for a minister to know.
Use the time you spend in your car productively. Bivocational ministers are always looking for ways to maximize their time, and this is one of the best ways I know. It is the easiest multi-tasking I do and one of the most productive. I-Pods and similar devices are now inexpensive enough for any budget, and I believe they can be a great investment in one's personal growth.