After 19 years in ministry I finally have an article filing system I’m satisfied with. When I was in seminary I’d hear from the preaching teachers about the importance of developing a file system to clip newspaper and magazine articles for future sermon illustrations and pastoral situations. I never got there. It wasn’t really needed for my job in the Dominican Republic and I’ve never liked managing paper.
Things have changed. I have my Google Reader where I take in RSS feeds. I get links from Twitter and CRC-Voices as well as paper things I read (they’re still not as convenient as I’d like). I scan headlines and read articles that make me think “I might want to recall that someday…” After I skim it or read it I decide if it’s a keeper. If it is I use bit.ly to compress the link, I tweet it with a little summary that has keywords I’ll think of later to search, my blog captures my tweets and if later I think about the article I can search my blog and pull it up and use it. Wonderful!
I also get the secondary benefit of seeing what “sticks” with different people. You can measure response on bit.ly and I can easily post things to Facebook and hear different people’s responses to different articles. It’s so much more rewarding that reading something and putting it in some paper file someplace where I’d have to store that paper and hope to retrieve it somehow.
As I was doing some of that this afternoon (note all the tweets and FB posts) it occurred to me how broad and general my line of work is. Social issues, psychological issues, cultural artifacts, interesting stories, all kinds of things might have to be rolled into a sermon or a conversation or a piece I’m writing.
Pastors are one of the few generalist occupations left and that makes me happy. So many fields are now specialized and sit in silos, mine is one where I get to grace in open fields, in the fields of others and get to mix what I find all together. It’s an interesting and good thing and I’m happy I get to do it.