June 11, 2007
Confessions of a Ten-Year Temp
Today marks my tenth anniversary at InterVarsity Press. On June 11, 1997, I walked into my swanky corner office for the first time and formally requested two weeks off.
In my defense, I requested the time off for a youth group trip to the Navajo reservation that I had been planning for a long time. My supervisor decided it would be good for me to get in a couple of weeks training time before my predecessor left, so I started early. The timing of my start date didn't matter much to me, to be honest; I was more concerned that my new job wouldn't get in the way of my living my life.
I don't know if my boss knows this, but InterVarsity Press was supposed to be a temp job for me. I had run out of money while working as a fundraiser for a startup youth ministry, so I took the job at the Press. I figured that I ought to at least enjoy what I was doing while I dug myself out of debt. But time gets away from you, especially when you're enjoying it and seeing the immediate fruits of your labor.
A book is, in a sense, the inevitable destiny of an idea, and so I dwell daily among ideas moving inevitably toward their destiny, making sure that those ideas are well-spelled and adequately punctuated. Then again, a book is often the incubator for new ideas--and not only new ideas but new ways of living. A hallmark of InterVarsity Press's publishing program is a high value of transformation, the thoughtful integration of life. And so in our finest moments to edit an IVP Book is to midwife a midwife, so to speak: to help bring about the means for a person or a community to transform into something better, something new and fresh and more fully alive.
Of course, books aren't the only harbinger of transformation. Whatever growth I've experienced over the past ten years is due only in part to what I've read. I'd attribute perhaps a greater part to the interactions I've had with my friends and colleagues over the years, and to the opportunities that my supervisors and authors have afforded me. I wouldn't have four years of blogging under my belt if it weren't for my boss inviting me to write for the company website, and without this blog I wouldn't have come across some of the remarkable people I've met along the way. Likewise, in my interactions with authors and coworkers I've been challenged to broaden my vision of the church, to reconsider the extent of my discipleship. Given the isolating nature of the work that editors find themselves so often buried under, I've been fortunate to have a distinctly communal experience.
When I first started working at InterVarsity Press I would politely decline every invitation to lunch from my peers--not because I didn't want to lay down roots but because I was that broke. I regret it now, because over ten years you see a lot of people come, and a lot of people go. But I'm on a better financial footing now, and I'm well-rooted in the purpose and values of the Press, and I'm regularly in the mood for lunch. So today I raise a peanut-butter cookie in gratitude to InterVarsity Press. If only I had a glass of milk in which to dip it.