I thought that I would give an update on what I have been up to, partly for the benefit of the church, but to help me to reflect as well.
The first thought that comes to me is that a pastor’s job is a little like plate-spinning (perhaps all our jobs are). Rather than panicking that one plate has fallen off the stick, it’s more helpful to focus on getting the plate you’re working on back up and running. If something is worth doing, it’s only worth doing well. It’s not really worth doing it to a substandard.
After all, the apostle Paul focused on the ‘upward call’ in God. He said to focus on whatever is lovely, and worthy of praise.
So what new plates am I spinning then?
Due to staff shortages at our school (did you know my official title is a ‘bivocational pastor’ as I am a teacher as well?), I have agreed to work on Mondays for the time being. Be reassured, this will not be for too long, but it does mean I need to squeeze church work a little, and ensure I get key tasks done on the Tuesday (or at the weekend – some church jobs are best done at the weekend – and one of the challenges for me is remembering that being a church leader is a calling, really, rather than a ‘job’).
The other new plate (but not so new I hear you cry!) is the build-up to the Brighton Marathon, coming on the 14th April. As a first for this, last Sunday I was at the Leisure Centre at 7am, meeting two other very helpful runners and we completed a 16 mile ‘long run’, thankfully before church started. Yes I did manage to get time to have a shower before I came to church. It was a very beautiful morning with mist, stunning sunshine and my first run through local villages round to LA, over the arched bridge, and back. I recommend the new cycle path. If anyone can tell me why some people have painted stones and tied them to the fence I’d be very interested to know.
What I find hard to deal with, I’ll be honest, is the way ‘random events’ seem to get generated. Yes, it’s exciting to have different things happening, but why so many, why on Saturdays (just when I need to do my long run!) and why all in March or April? That said, try your best to support what you can, and be prayerful about it. The thought came to me the other day, that as Christians we’re quite good at generating ‘heat and light’. We all have our own enthusiasms, and the more ‘diverse’ we are as a bunch, the more enthusiasms we have. That said, just because someone doesn’t make a session, does not mean that we are not ‘one’ with them. Let’s be kinder to our brothers and sisters (and leaders!) than we are to ourselves. Let’s make the most of every time we see each other, and work on loving each other better.
It says in 1 Peter 4:8 ‘Most of all, love each other as if your lives depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.’ I’m quite grateful that this is true!
A thought that I think can be linked to fellowship and church life: I don’t think that I have genuinely had a bad run or race yet. That may have something to do with my attitude towards them, and my general level of fitness. However, it also has something to do with the amazing people I get to run with, who are always positive, friendly, kind and motivating. From parkrun to my running club, to the races I have done (which perhaps are more difficult as you don’t quite know who you will see there and they can be more stressful), I have found myself coming away buzzing and energised, and set up for what’s next.
Let’s get a bit more of that into church. Consider before you come up to the front to share – am I being encouraging, am I looking at what is admirable? Yes, there IS a time to tear down, and a time to cast away stones: but pray very hard before you start doing that sort of thing to those people you love the most!
So since I wrote that, I have done another long run, and another week has gone by. What else has happened? We have had a fun day doing First Aid Training, and a big thank you both to Tish who organised it, and to all those who gave up six hours on a sunny Saturday in late February to do it! Hopefully none of us will have to put any of it into practice.
I have now stepped down from the Coordinating Group for Churches Together – it is sad that I won’t see the people in the group (although admittedly the last two meetings I have not been able to make). I was surprised to receive two rounds of applause at the AGM. I also didn’t expect to find that I was doing a presentation on a youthwork focus group! I am still involved in helping to organise meals for church leaders. I relish this opportunity as it means that I keep a good line of communication going with other people. I am excited at the opportunities that could be developed in this line – please do PRAY for all the church leaders in the area. I’m very grateful for Don too who is our current lay rep – if anyone else wants to get involved, just let him or myself know!
We have had a leadership team meeting, and I’ve been able to spend a bit of time with some folk from church. Our leadership team is amazing – a remarkable group of people, reflecting how diverse and committed our church is in general. We’ve got lots of opportunities coming up to spend time together, and we should not despise these plans. In particular, on the 6th and 7th April we have Keith Warrington coming to speak about the Remarkable Spirit, and this will be excellent.
Ticking away at the back of my mind is the decision we made back at our leadership day back on the 15th Sept – this was to progress the plan to get a building that is suitable for our needs. We had some ambitious ideas at a trustees’ meeting on this, and every now and again I follow up a lead. I think there will need to be a big culture shift among us to see this materialise. We are accustomed to functioning without a building, but also accustomed to maintaining one! What does it mean that we are being led this way, and how can we hold the dream lightly, but at the same time not neglect it? The whole purpose is for the glory of God.
So I will wind this particular post up, but just to say that I’m very excited about the next stage. We have had some exciting and challenging prophetic words about being a ‘firestarter’, and also heard about ‘kickstarting’ last Sunday. For me, I just want to be closer to Jesus. I know that I need it. And I know that the ways of getting there haven’t changed: worship, Word, prayer, fellowship, fasting. Controlling what goes into my eyes, and what comes out of my mouth. This seems prophetic and a challenge to me personally at the moment:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
This sounds like me – and often, I’m sure, sounds like all of us. But very quickly, with one mouthful of milk, we are thinking ‘Uuughhh’ and we are reaching for the meat, I suspect. With this in mind, I am anticipating the prayer meeting tonight – prayer meetings are always the most exciting meetings of a church week, as they are unpredictable when we really pay attention to the Holy Spirit. ‘Every kind of prayer’ also reminds us that prayer can be as unconscious as breathing, and it promises to be that if we trust ourselves into His care on a daily basis and nurture gratitude, hope, faith and love.