Retirement presented a very unique problem for me. When I shut down my church office I was faced with the ordeal of dispoing of a room full of books. No, that isn't them at stage right. But, like most pastors and church staff I had accumulated shelves of books on just about every topic touching pastoral service. My first impulse was to have a library sale. Then again, these books were my friends and, you know, you can't sell your friends. So, in the end, I had a book give-away. All my colleagues, many church planter freinds, and the staff had a field day.
Now I'll get to survey the thousand books or so still in our storage building. You see, I'm a bibliophile. For forty years I have loved books and have listed reading as one of my favorite pastimes. Today this compulsion about books has found a digital outlet with my Nook e-reader. I'll admit it's not the same as holding a real book or thumbing through the pages of some of the old volumes I cherish. Then, again, late night, the Nook doesn't crash on my head the way the 800 page history book does when I nod off. It also doesn't take up too much space. Still, even in retirement, reading a good book is a blessing. So, the Nook is getting loaded too.
Over the years three themes have dominated my selection of casual reading. The seminary books were specific topics that paced me through two graduate degrees. But, in my own reading plan, three over-arching subjects comprise my selection of current reading : (1) a book that helped me become a better pastor; (2) a book that helped me become a better person; and (3) a book for my own personal enjoyment. So, for forty years I've primarily purchased books that fit into those headings one way or another.
Right now my three books are: (1) The Steward Leader by R. Scott Rodin; (2) The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of American Culture; and (3) The Searchers by Alan LeMay. One is a new angle on spiritual leadership, the second a look at one of the founding father's, and the third a novel of the old west, the book behind the great John Wayne and John Foird movie The Searchers. They are learning exercises even though they are also great reads.
Reading has been instructive for me in several ways. Books help me to be conversant, that is, to be able to talk to people on a wide area of topics. It is a blessing to interact with just about any group of people. So, being able to converse on topics of interest to others is a great ice-breaker when encountering people from various walks of life. Another advantage of a scripted reading plan is that this discipline helps me display the heart of a life-long learner, something I always taught my four congregations. Third, my last half-hour each evening is with a book (Nook) in my hand. It helps me lay aside the work of the day and move my thoughts to something more encouraging and uplifting.
Solomon wrote it. "Of making of many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh" (Ecclesiastes 12:12). But, then there's recreational reading. And, it's very educational.
Groucho Marx said, "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book."
Ain't it the truth. Happy reading.