My early career is given some credence by the books that occupy my bookcase.
I recently took a book from the bookcase that had sat lodged in a row of books which mostly referenced social issues, the poor, poverty, underclass folks living with little hope and with no recognised exit strategy, those who are part of the struggle yet didn’t know there was a struggle. Marxist theology sitting next to Liberation Theology. Good News next to Ideologies of Welfare.
Those I think of as pioneering writers discussing the great social challenges and recognised social divides. Authors who are either dead or very old but who were involved in early pioneering ministries and from which sprang expression such, ‘the coal face’, ‘marginalisation’, ‘those on the edge’, ‘deprivation’, ‘social injustice’.
These books, settled as they are on the bookshelf, some are foundational works on the development of people centred services, Social Work, Community Work, Youth Work, Education, Class, and Power.
And as I look again at my formative reading and taking from the shelf ‘Bias to the Poor’, by David Shepherd 1983, I began to re-read what David Shepherd had to say about the social structures of his day. I realised that in so many ways not much has changed, my bookcase was not only signposting my early career development, but was a signpost that illuminated the future that was opening before me, a pathway to what my career would look like; however it also revealed God choosing the path that I was to tread. My bookcase represents part of my life story. This realisation has continued to be with me day by day and has caused me to reflect still further on the pathway that was laid out for me and on which I walked.
As I read ‘Bias to the Poor’ I reflected on the journey of life. Where I have lived and moved and had my being. I began to ask questions of myself, had I been able to find or add substance in the direction of travel? I think the answer is yes.
Was my reading and were my actions reflecting or supporting the case for me becoming and being a Kingdom Man? What do I mean by this? I use the title ‘Kingdom Man’ to clarify both the Kingdom I represent and the actions of the Kingdom Man, Jesus, whom I follow.
I wonder if in using this expression, ‘Kingdom Man’ I had originally made a deliberate choice to use this title, or it was something that grew out of whom I had become, and this became my default position.
I use a number of expressions on a day-to-day basis
- ‘Five-minute friends’ meaning people I meet but are not part of my normal social life.
- Often we are not sharing with others the Christian journey that starts at A then moves onto B, but we are trying to get people to A.
- ‘As he went along’ John 9:1 Jesus met many people.
- Stay blessed. Meaning just that.
- Kingdom man
‘Kingdom Man’ is part of the list. This is because I have been shaped both by life experiences and by the influence of those folks who have formed and informed my reading and look out from my book case. But equally I have been shaped by what Jesus has done in choosing me to follow him. This has given substance to what I have been able to do with my life. This partnership between, The Kingdom Man, Jesus, and his Kingdom Man, me, has been instrumental. There is one book that does not appear in my bookcase – it is the fire that tempers the metal, it is the hammer that forges the steel, it is the light for the path, the love story that promises hope for the future. It is my bible. It never gets time to be left on the bookshelf.
Image credit: Inaki del Olmo via Unsplash