Saturday, August 15, 2009

The books of my life

Since I moved my library from my office at the mission to my study at home, I have been feeling what I can only imagine retired pastors and teachers often feel; a sense of quiet sadness.  For years I have been picking up books and reference material, first as a pastor and then as a missionary and mission leader.

Now, as my ministry slowly takes a new direction because of my health, I am struck with the fact that some of these books will probably never be used by me again.  Whole sections are longer longer relevant to me.

At one time, I was responsible for the Christian education ministry at a growing church in southern Manitoba. I loved my time there.  But these great books on Christian education, developmental psychology, learning styles and curriculum development that I once saw as the tools of my trade, so to speak, no longer play a useful role in my life. If we had someone on staff who was involved in full-time teaching, undoubtedly they would find them useful. But I have no idea if we will ever have someone fill that kind of role.

One of my specialities over the years has been leadership. My collection of leadership books is excellent.  But my role as a leader at VOMC will soon diminish, as it needs to, when we get a new CEO. I recognize that leadership is influence more than position.  But is it good stewardship to have these books sit in my library?  Surely someone else could benefit from them. Is not the role of leadership the privilege of serving others rather than grasping after and hoarding authority and knowledge? Knowledge is not real power; giving it away to others is.

Over the years, I worked hard at developing my cross-cultural awareness and skills and passing them on to my colleagues here at the mission.  Floyd, our COO, has picked up this ball with enthusiasm.  Should I pass on these books as well? Will they really be used?

I have seen pastors and teachers hang on to their books long after they retired, only to have their families donate them to charity or give them away to whoever will take them upon their death.  That’s actually how I got a number of my books over the years!

I would hate to see that happen to my library, especially given the quality of books that I have worked hard to obtain.  At present, the largest part of it; my commentaries, dictionaries, language aids, and other reference books are still necessary for me to have, as I intend to focus on this kind of biblical research in my upcoming new role as Scholar-in-residence/Executive Advisor.

But it’s sad for me, I must confess. My books reflect my life of service.  With them come warm memories, a few regrets, and the occasional “Why did I ever buy that book??”  But mostly, they evoke a sense of closure that I guess I’m still not entirely ready for deep down.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw my husband go through a similar sense of loss as his health deteriorated. I still have most of his books. I have made good use of some. I probably have as many books as you because I love reading. Some of my husband's books I gave to the Christian Salvage Mission because they send them to missionaries and pastors overseas. You might want to consider them. They operate from the Hamilton area. In the meantime enjoy the memories that the books bring. Eunice