The crowded study

The crowded study

These days of difficulty, we may well be spending more time alone in the study, at least when Skype, Zoom, Hangouts or Team are not working and the children are not needing our attention. For all of us, studying and preparing alone in the study is a blessing whenever we can get it and some of us are blessed with more than usual nowadays because of social distancing.

So, we go in, close the door and are alone? Not really, our study is a crowded place;

The first thing we probably do is bow our head and seek God’s presence, so that is one more person deliberately in the room, and the most important. He is there in person and in his Word on the desk. If we say we teach about God in the presence of God then we also prepare to teach and write about God in His presence; an encouraging and challenging presence.

Then we cast our eyes over the full bookshelves and acknowledge the presence of our academic friends, the scholars we have lived with and worked with for many years, some of whom died hundreds of years ago but we like to take down their works and enjoy a conversation with them now and then. As is normal, friends are also a distraction and sometimes we pick up a book and start a conversation that takes us away from the task in hand!

Our students are also there, or they should be. Preparing teaching is preparing to teach them so we are very conscious of their presence, hopefully, how we can meet their needs, how we can bless them and lead them on academically, spiritually and in their ministries by what we prepare and teach. I have heard of some who even stick a picture of an actual typical person for whom they are writing on the top of their computer screen to keep focus on the receivers not only the content.

And, of course, the elephant in the room is our self – or our many selves. There is the studious self, the self who gets bored easily and needs a coffee and chocolate biscuit regularly, the self who loves the big picture and the self who needs to get the detail right. The fun self is there, which reminds me of C.H. Spurgeon who, when he was criticised for putting too much humour in his sermons, said “my dear you would not criticise me if you knew how much I keep out.” And those selfs (and others) can, indeed should, not be entirely “kept out” in the preparation, writing and teaching.

That’s a lot of people in a small study. And even when we go out for a walk to get away, they tend to come running after us and asking if they can come too.

Study-life for many of us consists of three main skills; dealing with administration efficiently; fashioning good and useful material while listening to the many voices; and tuning the ear to hear the still small voice.

It is not done alone.

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One Comment on “The crowded study”

  1. perryshaw Says:

    Thanks Graham. A very timely post. I loved your section about the many “selves” in the room – although at the moment I have been finding it enormously difficult to get motivated and so mostly feel the “imposter” self and the “procrastinator” self. This said, your post has stirred me up to get onto some writing projects on my desk … tomorrow. 🙂


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