We’ve been back from holidays 5 weeks now and its been good to settle into a steady rhythm of life. The first two weeks were quite weird as we adjusted to normal living, but we seem to have found our way again and are travelling well.
In getting back into church leadership one of the challenges has been the whole deal of teaching and the time it takes. I try to never spend more than 8 hours on a talk these days, but even that seems like a lot to me when I consider it to be half of the paid time I have allocated.
Previously when I worked several jobs simultaneously I used to just blur the edges and roll everything together. So long as the job got done I wasn’t counting hours or worried about short changing anyone. But in that time there was more similarity between the roles.
Now I hold two quite distinct paid roles and they don’t overlap very readily.
On Mondays and Fridays I like to put on my church leader hat while Tue-Thurs is when I pick up a shovel. Saturday is my day off from both and Sundays is a mix of church and relaxing. Life rarely works out as simply and discrete as I described it above ad inevitably I do some church stuff on Tues/Wed/Thur and occasionally a retic job pops up on a Monday or Friday that just needs attending to.
But for now that approach works well.
People have said to me ‘I guess while you’re digging a trench you can think about church stuff anyway?’ Oddly enough that’s not the case. As mundane as physical work may be I rarely find myself in a place to be dreaming or imagining and more often than not all that’s going thru my head when I’m digging are the words ‘dig… dig… dig…’
So it means that almost all of my focused thinking re church gets done on the days when I am not ‘reticing’ as I simply can’t find the mental space to do it while I am working and then in the evenings I am usually quite wiped out. I have found it hard to cope with being less tuned in at times, yet I am also appreciative of the fact that this is where 99% of people actually live.
While full time paid pastors get large swathes of time during the day to think thru the questions of church direction and strategy the part timers who work other jobs don’t have that luxury. While its frustrating at times, it helps me stay in touch with the average person is when it comes to church involvement. If people work hard during the day then chances are they haven’t got a lot emotional energy to give when they come to church meetings on an evening or a weekend.
It changes the way you look at church and leadership, but it also reshapes the way you look at life!
Like the way you pen your reflections, often starts a thought process myself. thanks
I’ve been thinking about some of these issues a lot recently. As you know, there have been times when I have been employed full-time for the church, part-time for church and part-time elsewhere, only part-time (elsewhere), full-time elsewhere…
I think it is good to understand that people who work in what is sometimes called the real world have very little time or energy left for church. But I think there is much here that church leaders need to challenge: the real world is not necessarily how it should be.
Here in UK, we have been enticed into living beyond our means. Many people work not because work is a gift from God, but to pay off mortgages and sustain lifestyles they can’t afford. They are slaves, making bricks without straw. At the same time, we have communities of three-generation unemployment, which is another form of enslavement.
Many Christians spend so much of their life at work, at best all they can do is be an isolated witness there, and at best all the church can do is support that individualistic model. It is the atomised body of Christ.
My hope is to see church leaders encouraging people more and more to downsize their lives, freeing time and energy for the people of God to function as the body of Christ in the world.
I recognise that many people will say that is unrealistic. But then, everything about the kingdom of God is unrealistic from a worldly perspective…
I appreciate your honesty about your struggles, and your reminder to church leaders to recognise where 99% of people actually live. We must not add to their burden, but inspire a bigger dream. We need a new exodus, not a way of being church that fits in with Pharaoh…
Thanks- also in the UK I’d echo the above.
I have the luxury of being a full time paid minister. I’m trying to use this to spend more time ‘out there’ rather than try and ascend the greasy pole of church heirarchy/speak the language of Zion/say you can only serve God by doing Church stuff. I say ‘trying’ cos I son’t always manage it.
That’s why I read your blog- cos you keep plunging me back into real life. Your tension helps me. Plus your Aussie diction is much more direct than my English diction which helps!
Making tents … doing retic …. – operating in the “real” world, instead of the world known as “Christendom.”
right on the money, hamo.
much love from here in kentucky.
Yes Andrew – I definitely don’t write any of this to disparage those who find themselves in FT Christian leadership. I am just finding it interesting looking at things from a new perspective.
And I totally agree that maybe we need to challenge peoplle to rethink how much they work – what they need etc