Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The pastor's library

About a year ago I mentioned to my wife that I needed to do something about my library. I don't want her to have to deal with these books when I'm gone. As I sit here typing this post I am looking at seven bookshelves crammed full of books, mostly theological and ministry related. Actually, to say these shelves are crammed is a little bit of an understatement. Some shelves are double-stacked with books.

Although my comment about eliminating some of the library was meant to encourage her, she really wasn't buying it. In fact, she responded, "If you're going to reduce your library why did we receive a box from Amazon today?" Well, those were books I hadn't read! As usual, though, her observation was on target. I think I've eliminated one box of books so far and probably added more than that to the shelves.

It's hard for me to get rid of books. When I began my ministry in 1981 I had about one-fourth of a shelf of books, and they were not very good. Thanks to a book allowance from the church I was able to add to the library every year. Thanks to discount sellers like CBD I was able to spread that money much further than if I was paying retail for all my books. I also found a used theological bookstore in Louisville that helped me add to the collection. For years I attended the Friends of the Library book sale in my home town. I would head straight for the theological books and fill up at least 2-3 bags. My best deal at a FOL sale was the two volume Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament that I got for $1.00.

My books are highlighted, underlined, and written in the margins. The material highlighted has been recorded in a filing system I use to quickly find material I may want to use later.

I have an older version of a Bible study software program which I use occasionally, but there's something about holding a book in your hands and interacting with it with highlighters and pens. I have books on NOOK and Kindle, but I haven't added e-books in a couple of years. I just can't get excited about reading a book on a screen.

Probably younger pastors are more comfortable with electronic books and software programs for their study and sermon preparation. Regardless of whether you prefer the printed page or electronic books, I encourage you to regularly add to your ministerial library. Commit to a reading program. I try to read a significant book each week. I don't always hit that goal, but I'm at least close. If that sounds like a lot, there are people who read twice that many every year.

Invest in good resources. While you're reading, interact with the material. Develop a filing system so you can quickly find material you want to use later. If you'll do each of these you'll find your ministry to be much more effective and less stressful.

I need to put together another box of books to get rid of, but first I need to check something on Amazon. A church gave me a $50.00 Amazon gift card the other day as part of an honorarium.

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