It's amazing how many people ask me that question during the week, and when they do there are normally a few assumptions made along with the asking - so how's about we have a quick consideration of what they think might be true concerning me and my ministry:
The most common assumption this time of the year is, with Christmas just around the corner, that I'm coming up to my 'busy' time. In fact this is a smoke and mirrors moment because I always feel that the run up to Christmas is perhaps one of my quietest. Since people assume I'm busy, they leave me alone and so I'm left with the highly visible carol concerts, Christingles, school plays and the like which in turn confirm my busyness. I'm never any more busy during the Christmas run in and what is before me is always, generally speaking, fun.
The most common assumption all year round is that weddings must be the 'best' bit and funerals (which is where the topic is often raised) must be the worst, or at least saddest, and therefore probably the 'worst' bit! Here, perhaps surprisingly for the many who present me with the, "I bet weddings are the best bit of the job, aren't they?" I have to say that that title would go to the funerals I conduct. This generally results in a bit of a shock and the question, "Really?"
One of the most amazing opportunities I have is that of making the experience of someone about to be in the same physical space with a loved one for the last time as positive and enjoyable (a word people often look shocked at) as it can be. If I can bring the person to life in anecdote and confirm the positives and demonstrate how the negatives we're part of the journey and therefore part of the person (without diminishing the person making things a curse) and do all this with the opportunity for them to laugh, smile and remember the deceased - and in so doing create a service the deceased would enjoy being at (because they are, aren't they?)- then I've done it right.
Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy weddings, but they are a different animal and the connections made (regardless of how hard you work at them) are not the same as those made at a funeral.
The most common 'funny' assumption is that old chestnut which states hat we clergy only work one day a week, and that's Sunday. Of course, being a bit of a fundamentalist fanatic (a label I won after telling a churchwarden in a place I was visiting that he needed to be modelling Christ for the congaregatiin and the community of which he was a pillar) I have to tell them lthat, because of the fourth commandment, I never work on Sunday! Now that's an invitation to an interesting conversation for sure!
And I don't work on a Sunday - I worship - just as I have done on a Sunday for as long as I have realised my salvation lies in Jesus, the Christ, and called myself a Christian. Oddly, some of those I meet (including clergy) seem to think that being a cleric is a job and that when they have a Sunday off this means they don't have to go to church* - church on Sunday is not a workplace to be set free from, to see it as that is to forget that underneath it all we are all laos (The people of God) and reduce calling to nothing more than yet another job, albeit a job of a very different kind.
Perhaps that's why some of those I meet tell me of how they operate Office hours, answerphones going on outside of them, and how the Vicarage is their home and not a place that people should be visiting coming to engage with them. Meanwhile I long for the days when the daily routine was walking (or in some other way covering) the patch and engaging with the people of the parish.
Ministry is about relationship and relationships are about people and underpinning, and overarching, that is the reconciled life in God the Father. enabled by the Holy Spirit, won for us by Jesus, the Christ.
So the real answer is all of it, all of the time - yes even at 2:30 in the morning when one of those in the patch who is mentally ill is having a crisis, because we stand with them as Christ stands with us - and who knows, they might just be an angel ;-)
So Lord, Thank You for today, the opportunities, the blessings and the challenges, keep them coming.
* I love holidays amd the opportunity to go worship somewhere different and, best bit for me, be on the receiving end of a blessing.