I remember as a child going to the school library and learning the Dewey decimal system as a method of locating books and periodicals. Depending on the library a person could search a paper/card catalog by subject and/or author in their attempt to gain information. Needless to say library science and methods have come a long way. Today, most libraries no longer need and have probably done away with the paper/card system. In fact advances in technology allow us to search and obtain information from almost anywhere through the online databases and internet searches.
The progress of library systems has even made personal collections easier to organize and manage. If you are like me, you know what it’s like to have books in no order and in places all over your home or office. However today you can purchase affordable software that will help you systematize and even label every physical resource you possess. Also with the availability of digital books, you can construct a library through your email (such as Google books) and/or innovative devices (such as Kindle or Nook) designed for that purpose.
Yet these advances pale in comparison to an often neglected resource—human experience. Everyday there are people who fascinate us with their unique abilities, gifts, experiences, and passions. Nevertheless these people are often adored, idolized, and revered rather than sought out for learning. This paradigm has always existed (i.e. advisors, personal discipleship), but has flourished in recent years, creating language and classifications such as mentoring, coaching and sponsorship. Some have even created careers by providing their knowledge to interested audiences. I was told recently of a man who no longer practices selling real estate, but instead coaches new agents on being successful.
While it is encouraging that people and groups are professionally making the most of what they know, I believe it fails to compare to all the knowledge that’s readily around us. The next step for you in advancing some area in your life may indeed be in a book or an upcoming conference, but it may also be in a local pastor, or lay person within your church, city or denomination. It could also be the persons who have written books or whose talents have brought them mass appeal. You never know who is willing to make themselves available or share how God has uniquely crafted their contribution to the Church and humanity.
Redefine your library! The couple who seems to really enjoy each other may be the source in rekindling your marriage. The pastor who appears to have some sort of balance with ministry and family could well be the source you need in better meeting your responsibilities. Your prayer and devotional life lacks passion, but yet others around you and in the Christian community which spans the globe are in position and able to share those experiences with you. The point is that there are human resources, like library books and articles right in reach that we have not tapped into.
Don’t Let These Stop You
Often what hinders us from tapping into human resources are fear and pride. Sometimes the perception of our own inadequacy has kept us from reaching out to others for fear that we are not worth their time. Or perhaps we may be afraid of rejection or disappointment if we reach out. These fears have some legitimacy, but not enough to forsake the potential reward of receiving from those who are willing to invest into our lives. Sometimes the greatest joy is not the gift or what one possesses, but the opportunity to give it away. These opportunities could provide mutual benefit, allowing you to receive and the other to express thankfulness through giving.
Another area that often holds us back is pride, and the willingness to humble ourselves before others. The step of admitting that your parenting, study habits, pastoring, devotional life, marriage, writing, vocational, dietary, spending, and whatever else could fit here is lacking has often been a stumbling block in reaching out to others for guidance. Remember that God is attracted to humility, and resists the proud. What you will discover is that many whose lives has some appreciable quality will in addition express their own humility and testimony of how they have what they possess.
In addition, because we tend to enjoy the fruits of those around us, we often neglect the opportunity to learn or grow from them. I’m always reminded about this at funerals of those who have lived remarkable lives, as people mourn at how special they were. Yet I find myself pondering, how much more it would mean if we took time to learn from them in addition to appreciating their contributions.
Getting Started with Human Experience
So you may be asking how to begin to redefine your library. This process is actually very exciting, because it has the potential of taking you places you never imagined. I would start by considering those areas where you would really like to see growth in, and then pray and discern who in the world evidences maturity in that area. The Bible says in Psalms 37:37 Keep your eye on the healthy soul, scrutinize the straight life (MSG). Take advantage of those around you!
In a world such as ours, even persons on other continents are just a “click away.” Face to face appeals, phone calls, emails, networks are all valid ways of getting into contact with others. Recently I have been interested in book writing, and thought about one of the leading Christian writers in recent times. When I reached out to the individual, not only were they receptive but even provided an information packet for those considering writing. So get busy redefining your library, and making use of the human resources God has provided our world and His Church.
Finally, this is also an opportunity for you to become a resource to others. While your resourcefulness may not produce an internationally recognized ministry, book or conference promoting your value, God has those around you who desire to grow via our gifts, abilities, experiences, and passions that it takes place. As you begin to grow in wisdom from those around you, realize that just maybe, people may begin looking to you for the same kind of growth as well.