I’m writing this to my friends, family, and present and future readers. I believe that my books serve an important role in both spiritual formation for believers in Christ as well as foundational primers for pastors. Now, they have a great chance of being made available to those students of Scripture and ministry leaders who use Logos Bible Software.
Both Sabbatical Primers and We’re the “sons of God” . . . So What? have been made available to Logos Bible Software’s “Pre-pub” Department. If you have any inclination to help place my pastoral and spiritual formation books into the hands of readers at a reasonable price, I’d like to show you how you can help.
Simply click on the link or the photo of my collection of books here in the post or at the right in the navigation bar and that will take you to the product page. Of course, once there you can buy the books for yourself for $19.99, but that’s not necessary to help. Whether you buy them or not, simply share them using the social media icons directly under the photo of my books on the product page.
You can also simply copy and paste the URL below into your Facebook or Twitter and say something about the books. When you publish your comment, the link will place a photo of the books and the product page on your FB or Twitter so that readers can click and go to the product page to look at and purchase the collection.
When the books gather enough interest, then Logos will publish and ship them. I hope you’ll decide to help make this roll-out of the new collection available.
STAND UP STRAIGHT!
When I was young, I was tall for my age. But I always slumped my shoulders (more on this later). So adults were always saying “stand up straight; throw your shoulders back.” Aside from the fact that it was painful to do (Reason one), I had a greater concern.
No one tall has ever told me to stand up straight. That made me suspicious. It’s always been short-people-who-WANT-to-be-tall who told me to straighten up.
Like my company commander in boot camp. He was 4′ 1” and always bounced on his toes trying to be 4’4″, yelling at the top of his lungs for us to stand up straight when we stood at attention (here we go again). Then he’d come to you, nose to belly-button and looking straight up at me ask, “Are you looking DOWN ON ME maggot?.” Believe me, it’s nothing but pure hell to tell the truth in that situation.
But worse yet, standing straight causes you to be attentive. When you’re more attentive and you’re tall, you increase your “command presence.” This is very dangerous because . . . When you increase your command presence, you’re usually asked to LEAD something. Once you’re asked to lead something you have only two choices:
Make believe you can lead. We all know what that looks like (except for those trying to make believe they can lead). When you make believe you can lead, people catch on to you really quickly. And you either get promoted or you are disliked. In either place you’re always waiting for the shoe to drop. Knowing that you’ll soon be out of a job.
Make believe you can’t lead. When you make believe you can’t lead, you’re always hoping that the shoe will drop and you’ll escape from that job. In either situation, you’re not likely to have gained anything by standing up straight for the short people.
DANGERS OF GOING VIRAL
Inevitably, you will be encouraged by tall friends to write a blog post of your experiences as a tall leader that will go viral. If you write a blog post that goes viral you will be asked to speak places. Once you’re asked to speak places, you’ll have to write a book. Your book will open doors for you to speak more places and then you’ll be expected to be an “expert” on the topic. Unfortunately, the only thing you’re an expert on is resisting the temptation to stand up straight only you’ve already failed at that by now. Plus nobody likes a tall expert. Now that nobody likes you . . .
You’ll be asked to join a panel on FOX business news and your new writing, speaking, and interviewing schedule will have you totally stressed out. So Dr. Phil hears about you and invites you to tell the world the answer to the question “How’s that working for you?”
You go around now telling tall kids not to stand up straight and their parents are ripping mad. So they contact Bill O’Reilly. He sends Jesse Waters out to interview you. Wait till you get on O’Reilly’s show and see how tall he is. He won’t be happy with the example you’re living for America’s youth and you’ll be persona-non-grata at Fox. Now you’ll be embraced by the left. If you’re left, that’s good. If you’re right, then you’ll be wrong.
BACK WHERE YOU STARTED
Oh, another reason not to lead is that you delegate. And when you delegate it’s easy to avoid. And when you avoid, you’re considered conceited. Then you lose more friends. You become distracted from your focus as a leader. Then you start to digress in thought and conversations. People notice your digression and you’re no longer invited to speak anywhere. So you slump over in discouragement. Now you’re right back where you started with your short mother telling you “stand up straight.”
Unfortunately, you’ve long ago resigned from your day job to pursue your career of being a viral blogger, speaker, and expert. And who knows where that will end up.
You get my point . . .
© 2015 by David C Alves
iStock photo used by permission
McMurtry’s lucid writing style always blows me away. I can like the writing without necessarily embracing the prickliness of the author. He’s blunt and curt. For all this, his love of books and writing resonates with my own. And I’m not mad at him, even though he told me he wouldn’t sign my first edition, hardcover copy of Lonesome Dove–my all-time favorite book and mini-series on Blu-ray. Apparently, he lives in several places and doesn’t interact with his readers anymore. I’m sure he must get exhausted having lost his anonymity. Now he has to vigorously guard his solitude and writing time.
I was in Archer City, TX at “Booked up,” only not during the book sale. I dragged my wife and a publisher-friend and her husband there on an overnight outing from Amarillo. We spent far more time there than either my wife or our friends had imagined we would. Yes, I’m still married. Yes, they’re still our friends. Only no one will go with me to” The Brattle Bookshop” in downtown Boston.
I bought a “rare” book on my way out of store 1. The title was: Captain Lee Hall of Texas, by Dora Neill Raymond, with illustrations by Louis Lundean and Frederic Remington. I fancy it may have been the book upon which McMurtry based Captain Woodrow F. Call, I’m not sure. I’ve yet to read it past chapter one (though I’ve examined all of Remington’s drawings). I’ll get there though because I’m intrigued by real Texas Rangers ranging a lawless land–always have been from my earliest boy years.
I re-posted McMurty’s NYR post about the massive book sale for you because you’ll be enriched to hear the heart (and mind) of an old book-lover (bibliophile). And I hope it satisfies your love of books and their authors–who are mostly bibliophiles like the rest of us who enthusiastically write and read. McMurtry gives his perspective on how the sale went and how books continue to both lose ground and gain new enthusiasts.
I’m confident that you’ll enjoy his Texas Big-style of book collecting, keenness in the use of language, and perhaps “Booked Up” will become a new “must see” place on your Bucket List.
So, you’re either already in a reading group and have responsibility to host or facilitate; OR you’ve been thinking about starting a reading club or group but have been unsure about where to begin; OR you’ve happened upon this post by accident and can’t wait to browse some other posts here or elsewhere . . . .
Whether you’re a reader of not, if you have any kind of small group meeting in your home or if you ever plan to host such a group, hang in here for a few more paragraphs and see if you can use some of this stuff. It comes from decades of experience at facilitating small groups and will save you tons of anxiety and conflict as you facilitate your reading group.
Since it says so in the title, I’m going to assume this is a reading group we have responsibility for. Ready?
DO establish Group Rules/Guidelines. Some groups fail to do this and end up paying the price down the road. Even though we tend to hate rules, they help everyone know what’s expected and agreed upon. Therefore they lend stability and a level of predictability to the group experience. These in turn help the group cohere
Group rules/guidelines should be decided upon by the group for ownership. There’s always somebody who will conflict with the rules unless they understand that it’s not just you as facilitator/leader that has decided upon the standards, but the entire group that has set the standards in place. If we weren’t such easily offended, touchy, literary types, this would not be an issue, but this is 21st century America. In addition, people like to know what’s expected and allowed.
- Housekeeping Items to share with the group should be shared up front. These can include things like deciding whether you’ll meet at the same place every week, or rotate through the homes of those who volunteer to open their
- Meeting Times – Decide at the first meeting if the beginning and ending times work out for everyone. Set times that all can agree upon. Then KEEP THEM!!
- Begin on time. This is important. Plan 15 minutes up front to catch up, banter. But begin on time! This is the right place to say END ON TIME too. I’ll hit this one more time later in case you’ve forgotten by the time you go through this post of do’s and don’ts.
- ALL Cell phones OFF (or set to Airplane mode) – This is REALLY important. Far too many people are tied to their cell phones as though they were umbilical cords. Most people do not need to be immediately available. Unless you’re Secret Service, a brain surgeon on call, or a Navy Seal on active alert, you can probably go without the cell phone for an hour and a half.
- Provide a comfortable circle – Set up chairs so that you are in a circle. Try not to have too many hard chairs. Do you to strait to the hard chair to plant yourself for the next hour?
- Eliminate distractions – Don’t allow for ringing phones, howling dogs, demonized cats, parrots that quote Shakespeare. Some distractions can be very cute, but over the long haul, people will begin to drop out and you’ll never understand why. If your husband does Elvis impressions, ask him to perform in “the meeting AFTER the meeting”–when those who wanted to, have been able to spare themselves by way of a hasty departure
- Decide ahead of time about refreshments – Does the host home provide them all? Or do you rotate who brings them to the meeting place.
DO Establish “House rules.” These are the guidelines/rules that hosting home or establishment sets out for the group. The group should determine if this is a house group or a group that meets in public (e.g. at Starbucks or Joe’s Bagel Emporium). If in public, make sure you (or someone) has talked to the manager or asst. manager to find out what their expectations are. Work within them and you may have a great experience. You’ll be happy and they’ll be happy to have a regular group of customers.
If your reading group will meet in a home–your home–unapologetically lay out your expectations. After all, this is YOUR house. You are sharing it with your fellow readers, but they are not renting the space. They are in your home. You can expect them to understand that you really don’t want smoking in your home or dirty shoes on the wall-to-wall white carpeting in your formal living room. Or on the imported Persian rug in your library. If you’re unsure about what guidelines you’d like to establish, then seek out someone who’s experienced at hosting and they can give you a heads up on what you might realistically expect.
- What about kids? Will they be attending since some of your readers may be single moms or dads?What about your own kids? Will they be allowed to interrupt the group whenever they want attention or another glass of chocolate milk (part of the problem already perhaps)? Some parents of young children seem clueless when it comes to allowing their children too much freedom to be front and center. I’ve heard every excuse for why continual attention-grabbing is ignored or dismissed by some parents. Be honest with one another and discuss how children will or will not fit into the plan. We have found that a babysitter, or older sibling–paid for by the group–is often the perfect solution. We put a love-bowl on the table and even the parents who don’t have children present usually give generously and the babysitter goes home happy too.
- Provide Orientation – which door do you normally use? Let them know. Show them the bathrooms. Let them know if nothing but paper goes down the toilets please. Is it OK to get a glass of ice water or do you have a special time for “snacks & refreshments?” Anything they should know about parking? You get the picture.
- Purchase Helpful Resources – You might like to purchase some resources in the form of reference books to have on had for your meetings. Have Helpful Resources on hand (see my “5 Helpful Resources Every Book Club Should Own”).
- End on time. I repeat this because it’s very important. Better to have them leaving and wanting more than to have them continually fidgeting and glancing between your clock and their phones. You can always end on time and announce that whoever would like can mill around another half-hour. So now, I’ll lead by example. THE END.
QUESTION: What are some DO’s and DON’Ts you have discovered from your experience in a Reading Group/Club?
© 2013, David C Alves