This week has proved an interesting one. The first day of my working week was spent in a day-long meeting discussing the needs of ministers and whether we need a ‘professional’ body to address them.
The assessment of what the minister should be doing was accurate: the need for spiritual guidance and accountability; the need for continual reflection on our practice as ministers; and the need for continuing learning and developing both academic and practical.
What I am not sure about is the need to be a’ professional body’ – whilst I think we need to be ‘professional’ in our ministry I am not sure I want to be seen as a ‘professional’ in the way that a lawyer is seen. (maybe thew difference between being seen as a ‘post-holder’ and an ’employee’ and why i want to retain the former)
For most of this week I have spent many hours with someone who is dying – each day we thought it was their last but a week and a half on that has not yet proved to be true. I’m sure there are many who would feel that my sitting next to the bed of someone who is unconscious, for many hours a day, is not the best use of my time when there are so many other pressing needs and jobs that I should have done this week.
But for me it is my ‘being’ that needs to be the best that I can be as Christ’s follower and all the book learning and professional appraisal in the world will not necessarily address that. How would I quantify all those hours against all the tasks not done in an appraisal?
Or the time that I have spent on the phone talking with others about important matters in the life of the union – how would I justify that against tasks undone?
All the time spent listening to someone who has been very hurt, as have others that they work with, as people have lost jobs and endured a massive re-organisation.
I can’t tick these off my to-do list which looks much as it did five days ago and so I look like a failure in a ‘professional’ sense but I pray that in God’s eyes I have done the right things with my time this week.
We need to find a way to encourage and support ministers to continue to grow and develop as they should so that they fulfill Christ’s calling on their lives to the best of their human ability but we need to beware calls that move us into a business model of ministry:
Eugene Peterson comments: ” The vocation of pastor(s) has been replaced by the strategies of religious entrepreneurs with business plans.”
Instead Eugene asks a question we all need to ask:
“How do I keep the immediacy and authority of God’s call in my ears when an entire culture, both secular and ecclesial, is to give me a job description? How do I keep the calling, the vocation, of pastor from being drowned out by job descriptions, gussied up in glossy challenges and visions and strategies, clamoring incessantly for my attention”.