We have had a really busy week around Asbury with Holiness Week and the Move conference, so I apologize for missing yesterdays post and being so late today. Perhaps I should add a sub-tip on learning to juggle a schedule.
But today's tip is one of the more important things to both my academic and devotional/pastoral work.
Get good software and learn how to use it
I use Accordance Bible and I would by lying if I didn't tell you that's what you should buy. But I realize not everyone that reads this will go out and drop two bills (minimum) on Accordance. The other major options are Bible Works and Logos, but I think Accordance really is the way to go.
I use my software pretty intentionally, because it really expedites any sort of research or preparation. I will talk about efficiency in sermon and teaching prep not because the time spent in the word isn't deserving of time, but to be able to spend larger amounts of time with specific things that change from project to project (more word studies, or more structural work or theological interpretation). Correctly setting up my software helps me with this. I use Highlights for various things, and I keep them permanently color coded. I also take full advantage of User Notes and have around 15 different files. These allow me to systematically make notes in the text, as well as link to other resources besides scripture that I have in my software.
I wrote Monday that I have a file of all my reading notes, and I keep this organized in Accordance as well, because it is the easiest to update as well as search. I just type in the new entries as soon as I finish books.
Accordance also allows me to save workspaces (the various windows and tools I use for a specific project), so if I come back to a topic often, I save the workspace so it can be recalled. In any software you have, take full advantage of the user functions that are customizable.
I also spent the money to get alot of research resources (such as bible dictionaries, etc) in my software, so I have them right at my finger tips. This makes writing papers ALOT easier. The money has to be spent-but I am building a system and library that I will always have with me. In 10 years if I need to come back to something I wrote a paper on in seminary, I can get back to the work and thought in under a minute.
I think that I can actually do back-end research in about 35% of the time it takes some of my other friends that I have to rely on the library or rarely use their software. For me, time is worth money. I also learned this lesson when I was a local pastor and I would routinely find out I was preaching in 8 hrs. It was nice to be able to prepare in a way that was mindful of the time that I had available to me.
Go read my friend Greg's comment. I will add a subtip here....GET TO KNOW THE LIBRARIANS. These folk can make your life so much easier. Thanks Greg