In my first church job I had the privilege of working for a great boss – a man who was warm, kind, encouraging – a mentor who taught me more than he’ll ever know. He had a little office, a ton of books, and an old computer that just about enabled him to access e-mail. He was old-school in the best sense – a man of the word and prayer, a faithful pastor of the flock for the long haul.
15 years on, there’s a plethora of great resources for busy pastors to make use of – blogs, Bibleworks, Feedly, Evernote, Prayermate, online bible reading plans, daily dose of Hebrew or Greek, social media tools and opportunities, kindles, iPads, iPods, pod-casts, YouTube, TED talks, smart devices to synchronise calendars, contacts, mail etc etc etc. Many of these offer great resources and opportunities (as well as great distraction).
But here’s an old school resource you may have forgotten about. It exists in almost every town in the country and is absolutely free. It’s your local library. I know what you’re thinking – twin set and pearls, purple rinse, half-rimmed specs, musty smells, crumby crime and cookery books. Alas, no. Well, yes, but also so much more. My local library has a nice cafe, free wifi, comfy chairs in a light airy setting, and all sorts of books on subjects such as leadership, history, psychology, sociology, politics, economics, etc etc. I can’t say I use it as often as I might, but, having spent a couple of hours in there last week I must use it more. It’s a different environment, which I often find helpful in getting the creative juices flowing in prep; I can research topics without having to buy the books; I can surf the net, and drink coffee all in a place that is charging me a rent of precisely £0!
So why don’t you give it a go. Next time you’re preparing a talk, spend a morning in your local library and see what you get out of it.