May I help you?
By Jimmy Cochran
Working at a library Circulation desk is a lot like being a bartender. People want to tell you their problems and their joys ... and they want your advice. Even though I am an ordained minister, I don’t do confessionals, especially while I'm trying to check-out books, print copies and collect fines.
When this first began many years ago, I found it odd that people would tell perfect strangers details and stories that they wouldn’t tell their family and close friends ... and ask these same perfect strangers what to do or what they thought. Then I realized that a librarian is perceived by the patrons as a close friend. After all, we know the types of books they like, we recommend others that they may enjoy, we help them find books and resources that address issues in life they may be facing, and many times we comfort them during time of loss in their life or rejoice in times of new beginnings.
I love working in a library for many reasons, but this is one of them. We all become “family.” Some may need to be committed to some type of institution, but mostly, they are all good, fun, and friendly.
Christianity is kind of like that. We're family. Some of our brothers and sisters need to be committed, but we will still support them in our thoughts and prayers. The rest are people we love and enjoy being around. When I'm struggling with something, I know which Christian friends to go to ... and which ones to not go to. I usually feel much more comfortable talking to a friend than to a formal minister in a fancy furnished office. In my own mind, I feel they are judging me, and my friends don't do such.
But, on the other hand, I cannot be “all things to all people.” I cannot solve all your problems and do not always want to get so terribly involved because I know there is no way to effectively cut it off. At least with formal therapy, the therapist will finally say, “I've done all I can and you can make it on your own now. This was our last session.” Boom. Over and done.
So, I endeavor to be a friend to those who need me, listen to you (without wearing my clerical collar), but also learn when to say “I’ve done all I can,” and let you go. But, I will still be your friend.
Your thoughts? Is this what God would want? Or, should we as friends always be “on duty?”
And for today my friends, this has been the gospel (or question) according to Jimmy.
Jimmy Cochran is a resident of McDonough, a musician, a minister and the author of Being God’s and Staying God’s, both available at Amazon.com. Being God’s is also available at Moye’s Pharmacy in McDonough.