What I Learned In Junior High

When I was a kid in junior high, I joined the library club. I liked being around all those thousands of books. I didn’t really read them all, but I would peruse their pages when I had a free moment.

Our librarian, Miss Beverley Volkar, made working in the library fun. She taught us how to catalog and shelve books, how to properly care for them, and the importance of having access to important resources.

I had a chance to connect with Miss Volkar (now Ms. Stotera) again a few years ago. That time of remembering and reconnecting helped me realize that there were at least two core values I learned back then that have helped me become the person I am today (some three decades later).

FIRST, remembering those early years and the library reminded me of what it meant to be a steward. Miss Volkar may have been the librarian and had thousands of books and resources in her care, but they weren’t hers. She had complete power and authority over what books to purchase, where to keep them, how to arrange them, and what books to discard, but she didn’t own them. She simply was a steward who cared for someone else’s property. In the Bible, we are told how we are given the ability to work and earn money, but that it ALL belongs to God. We have the power and authority over what we purchase with that money, how to care for those purchases and that money, where to keep the resources we purchase and the money that remains, how to arrange them, and even what to discard. But like Miss Volkar, we are simply stewards who are entrusted to care for someone else’s property… in this case, God’s property… HIS money and HIS property. The only things that are really ours, are the ones we brought with us from the womb and take with us to the tomb. Everything else is on loan from Him, whether we like to admit it or not.

SECONDLY, I remembered how Miss Volkar did more than run an efficient library. She made the library a safe place to come and talk (quietly, of course). We could ask her just about anything, and she would talk with us and help us find our answers. And it was there in the library, every morning before school, our little group of Christians would get together to pray and to have a devotional time before heading off to homeroom. Later on, when I was facing intense personal crisis, at times even considering suicide, she was the friend who was willing to listen.

Miss Volkar was a MENTOR to me. She listened without judgment, she prayed with me and for me, she trusted me, she believed in me… when I was so swallowed up by depression that I was pretty convinced that no one else in the whole world did. (Years later, I would learn how much my parents, grandparents, my church, and others were also ‘there for me’ but as a freshman in high school I still had teenage-blinders on and just couldn’t see it.) We all need someone like Miss Volkar… especially our youth and young adults. And it can’t just be our parents.

Has God put you into a situation where you can be a mentor to someone? Maybe they’re no longer a teen, but you can “take them under your wing” anyways. Even now, three decades later, I still have mentors I look to when facing trying times… not necessarily to fix my problems, but to hear me, care for me, to pray with and for me.

Stewardship & mentoring. Good reminders from my childhood that I need as I walk the Christian walk of faith as an adult… and as I face a new year.

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