Saturday, 7 January 2017

When 'doing enough' is called for . . .

Words from the Larry Norman song - with the added emphasis, "I wish we'd all been ready!" Hit me today.

Today was another varied and challenging day as work started at the desk by seven am and in the office around half past four - today we celebrated the feast of epiphany and the arrival of the world to Jesus' door and in the act, we celebrate the message and ministry of the Christ becoming known by the Gentiles (that's all the non-Jews).

The Communion service was pretty well attended - amazing how many folk seek to keep the feats isn't it? - and once we'd done the service, had a brew and a chat it was time for a funeral visit and a funeral service before the joy of being able to visit family and take them Communion where they were.

I think the biggest problem we have with Church today is that we are so preoccupied with the church before us that we forget the Church who are no longer able to come into our buildings - and this is not just a tragedy but a disgrace.

Today, with no Kid's Club, I drew the line and was done by six pm - and I enjoyed immensely the opportunity to chill and relax (so be warned) and yet still felt pulled by the work on the desk.

A colleague recently sent me this:
The working day should be divided into three sessions:
morning, afternoon and evening;  clergy should be available for 2 out of 3 sessions per working day. So if a cleric has undertaken a funeral services in the morning and has a PCC in the evening, they should work morning and evening i.e. two sessions out of the working day.

Whilst doing my Area dean training I was taken to task by one of the people leading the course after they asked me about my work practice. I think they were 'concerned' that I had done a communion in the morning, a funeral after lunch and then joined the course for the start in the late afternoon.

As we chatted they told me how I 'must' have the evening and the whole of the next day off - returning to work at the start of the day the day after so that I could take, "Proper time off!" One of the others in the group chimed in with the fact that where they were they, once a month, they ended work at six in the evening (let's make it a Wednesday) and then had all the Thursday and Friday off, returning at nine am on the Saturday. To my surprise, others around me nodded in approval!

Boy, did I feel like a naughty schoolboy - because I wasn't bunking off!!!

But, encouraged by someone who acts as a spiritual director and bookseller, I have decided not only to follow Jesus but to engage in a box of plastic spoons. looking at the weeny-four hour period I am closing off the day at 22:00 and opening again for business at 09:00. This leaves me thirteen hours to split into morning, afternoon and evening slots. from this I guess that I can take a couple of hours off to each lunch and dinner which leaves me with eleven hours. Now I can remove a couple of hours for morning and evening office and reflection so that leaves me with nine hours which I can split into three and before I know it I'm hardly doing stuff at all. Doesn't sound as much fun as the sixty hour week I often enjoy.

Is the problem in the fact that I'm not doing a job (although those who tell me they don't 'do church' on a day off seem to think it is!) and if I'd have left work and taken a pension I'd have been doing as much (more possibly) as I do know. This is all about being available and about keeping myself mentally, physically and spiritually squared away.

Think I will need to revisit this - I know day's off and time in the evening something get swallowed up but that's because of the people You gave me Lord - Perhaps I need a perfect parish where everyone is healthy and there is no need and all the church members fight to do the stuff that needs doing :-)  Seems the average week for me has more hours in the day that others think we've been given.

So I'm booking a retreat and I'm going to have a think, pray and reflect on it for a couple of days.

Night Boss :-)


UKViewer said...

Fine tuning a working day for Clergy which is a 24/7 calling is all well and good, but the unexpected (probably expected) things intervene. It's not like an 8 hour fixed day, you have to react to needs, often expressed at short notice, and even if they can be put off, they still require immediate attention, otherwise, you might feel a bit like a Shop Steward, working to rule.

Yes, down time is important, and managing a work life balance is a necessary skill for Clergy, but sometimes that has to be balanced with the needs of others, and in general, family has (or is expected) to be tolerant of these demands.

I suspect that you are an introvert, working largely as an extravert, your emotional spoons take a hammering - I wonder how you can count more spoons into such a busy life. Does burn out loom? I hope and pray not.

But taking care of yourself is so important, we can become so busy, taking care of others that we can actually harm ourselves, our relationships and much else. I know to my own cost that my work ethic in the Army, long hours, frequent absences and separation for months at a time, damaged my first marriage - as we split, my Ex said that she had virtually raised the children single handed - which hurt enormously.

So, listen to a wizened oldie - take time for yourself and your family, when you can and give them the love and support that they and your deserve.

Vic Van Den Bergh said...

Nah - total extrovert this end - spoons are legacy from a chronically ill Child - I'm probably never going to drop working whilst the work is there and the work is never going to go away so - hey ho!

But I am reflecting upon the demands and pressures as asked to - thank goodness for a wonderful wife nd a cool family :-)

Happy Epiphany