the ministry of theological librarianship

Librarians are a funny group. We like to think that we can remain objective, provide services and assistance to patrons without bias or persuasion, and often such is indeed the case. A recent visitor to the library who had not been on campus since he graduated twenty-five years ago received thirty minutes of unprompted, courteous, attentive assistance.

But I have not come to this library to merely be a finding aid for the community. Though I am eager to be such when necessary, my desire to return to my alma mater was motivated not so much by the opportunity to serve the collection and steward the massive silos of information. I can do that at many libraries, and would enjoy it. My desire, however, was to do that here — to serve this seminary by serving this library.

I love this place. Or perhaps I should rather say, “I love these people.” Or perhaps even more accurately, “I love this ministry.”

This ministry is unique. It is academic, and yet pastoral. It is random, and yet intentional. It is pedagogical, and yet studious. It is old, and yet new. It is where I am to be. It is where I have peace (Col. 3:15). But more that all that, it is where my purpose in ministry is aligned with others who have the same purpose.

When I first entered “vocational Christian ministry” (oh how I hate that term!), I did so out of the desire to disciple others as I had been discipled. The powerful percent. The ministry of multiplication. StuMo. “Those things which I have taught to you in the presence of many witnesses, teach to faithful men who will be able to teach others also,” 2 Timothy 2:2.

I came to seminary and studied. I learned. I learned in order to teach. I learned that learning and teaching are in vain unless accompanied by practice (props to Hermann Witsius, “On the Character of a True Theologian”). So I graduated and went to pastor.

But I grew most while at this seminary. Most students do.

A few years after graudation, my mentor in ministry encouraged me to be “strategic” in my thinking — where could I most strategically minister and impact the most strategic group of people? This struck a chord with me given the whole StuMo, powerful percent background to my spiritual formation. And yet I found myself comfortably pastoring a comfortable church. A beautiful house by a beautiful lake. A godly and growing group of elders. Do they need me? Where could I be more “strategically” placed? Lord, forgive me for my pride.

I send an email. A position opens. I receive a phone call. The moving truck comes.

And now I am back at a place which is sentimental to me, where the purpose is to invest in those who will also invest in others — to saturate future pastors with a God-glorifying, Christ-centered love for Him, and a passion for healthy believers in healthy churches.

I do not pretend to have the influence that the teaching faculty have. Nor do I want it. Just give me a few eager students who ask, “Where can I find more information on …”

I picture this seminarian — who sits at the feet of godly instructors in class, and now through my ministry will sit at the feet of godly instructors in print — teaching and preaching the fruit of his study of God, His Word, and His Gospel to congregations of families and neighbors. What a blessing to be the pointer finger in body of Christ.

So I am a theological librarian. But I am such not for the books. I am such for the Church.

So to all who have made this ministry possible for me, thank you. I love what I do. May God find me faithful in it.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. James Santos says:

    Paul,
    I appreciate your heart for the Church. It is evident from your blog and in church that you love serving the saints of God. I pray that God would continue to open up more opportunities for you to make God’s invisible love visible!!!
    JS

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