NEW

Anglican Futures: Anglican Alphabet Spaghetti

Anglican Futures Anglican Alphabetti Spaghetti A dummies guide to the plethora of organisations and acronyms linked to faithful Anglicans in the UK and Europe. I once spent some time around military personel.  Everything had its own TLA (Three Letter Acronym) right...

Canterbury Tales: Favourite Bible Stories Retold by Archbishop Justin Welby

Canterbury Tales Favourite Bible stories retold by Archbishop Justin Welby The Good Samaritan A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead, halfway...

Anglican Mission in England Elects Two Suffragan Bishops

Anglican Mission in England Elects Two Suffragan Bishops The Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) met in Synod on 18 June.  While there, they elected two suffragan bishops to aid Bishop Andy Lines in providing episcopal oversight for the overall work.  Bishop Lines also...

Pride Flags Causing Conflict at Christian School

Pride Flags Cause Conflict at Christian School Conflict has broken out in a Christian school in Oxfordshire over the display of “Pride” flags. The institution in question is Kingham Hill School.  The same Trust (Kingham Hill Trust) oversees Oak Hill College, an...

Prayer Book Society Raising Funds to Put BCPs in the Hands of Choristers

Prayer Book Society Raising Funds to Put BCPs in the Hands of Choristers The Prayer Book Society, which will soon celebrate its 50th Anniversary, is raising funds to put a special edition BCP into the hands of junior choristers around the nation.   The idea came to...

Book Review: Reimagining Britain by Justin Welby

Reimagining Britain Foundations for Hope Justin Welby Bloomsbury, 2018, new edn. 2021 (ISBN: 978-1-4729-8497-5, 322pp, £12.99) The Archbishop of Canterbury has made several notable political interventions recently, including over ‘partygate’ and the Rwanda deportation...

Birthday of Anglicanism in America

Birthday of Anglicanism in America By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins June 16, 1607 was the birthday of Anglicanism in America. On this day Captain John Smith and 104 others celebrated the Lord’s Supper when they arrived safely in Jamestown, Virginia. Jamestown was the...

Barnabas Fund Report: Two ChiBok Girls Found

Barnabas Fund Reports Two Chibok Girls Found After 8 Years 24 June 2022 Two women, who were among hundreds of schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from the Nigerian town of Chibok eight years ago, have been found. Hauwa Joseph was discovered among a group of other...

New Bishop-elect for the Diocese of Cashel, Ferns & Ossory

Church of Ireland News New Bishop Elected for Cashel, Ferns & Ossory The Church of Ireland diocese of Cashel, Ferns, and Ossory now has a bishop-elect.  The Venerable Adrian Wilkinson, Archdeacon of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross was elected to succeed the Rt Revd Michael...

Editorial: Lessons to be Learned from the American Pro-Life Movement

Editorial Lessons to be Learned from American Pro-Life Movement Friday, 24 June 2022, the Feast of St John the Baptist, will be a date which will live in infamy amongst the supporters of abortion.  On that date, the US Supreme Court, overturned the precedent set by...

That Happy Certainty — by Robin Ham

When was the last time you gave some thought to what trajectories your ministry practice is setting?

Someone challenged me on this recently, and I found it a helpful way to really make me think hard about the patterns of life and ministry that are – whether I like it or not – becoming engrained into the way I conceive of what my working week looks like.
Last week I had the joy of spending two-days with some guys I trained with at theological college. We’ve committed to try and do this twice-a-year, to give time to ‘debriefing’ on our lives and looking out for each other. So on the train down to see them in London I tried to ponder this question of trajectories. I ended up grabbing a serviette and plotted out my ministry & life practices as if they were setting a course for my future.

And as I scribbled I realised that often I fail to think of my patterns in the present as a trajectory to the future, because I rationalise them instead. I explain them away (even if just to myself) as a unique ‘season’ that will soon change.
Picture the scene: you bump into a ministry friend at some conference you’re both attending. You know each other from way back and so you do the standard exchanging of formalities, and then they ask what sometimes feels like the dreaded question:
“So how’s it going anyway?”

First-off, your brain freezes. Good question – how even is it going? Ministry life feels like an endless to-do list and you’re not sure when you actually last did a pit-stop and got some perspective on it all.

But second, your memory slowly begins to remind you of all the things that aren’t so good about life and ministry right now. They come floating back up the surface of your consciousness like memories of a bad dream. Ok, there’s some things that are pretty much out of your hands, but then there’s all the others staring you right in the face with a fixed smirk that says, “Yep, you still haven’t dealt with me, have you?”

And so, thirdly – if you’re anything like me, that is – you then start to rationalise. Or to put it another way, you list the excuses:

* “There’s good reason why things are the way they are right now…”
* “We’re just in a particular season at the moment – it’ll slow down as soon as X is over…”
* “I know that’s not ideal, but sometimes you have to compromise…”

I don’t know what it is you’re tempted to excuse, but I know what it’s been for me…
…my devotional life … my sermon prep … my prayer time for ministry … spending less time with people and more time in my office … quality time with my spouse or close friends … letting admin run riot over word ministry … trading off my theological convictions for convenience …

And in all these things I’m quick to reason the ‘season away’, rather than asking the much more illuminating and galvanising question of what trajectory I’m setting.
If things carried on the way they are, where would I be in 3 years time? 5? 10?
Or to put it more specifically: What would be the shape of my ministry? How healthy would my marriage be? How much will I have shifted from my convictions? What would be the state of my physical health? What kind of church am I involved in building?
And it’s not just that “what’s the trajectory?” is a ‘scarier’ question (and so more likely to produce change by showing you the end results). It’s also a fair question.
My patterns in the present do become my default way of operating. Habits are hard to break. That’s just the way it is. Like the stream that gradually wears down the stones, carving out a new pathway for itself and becoming near-impossible to re-route, so the habits we build up in the present become the course we take for the future. ‘Seasons’ become years, years become…

Of course, in all this we need to remember grace. The point of asking ourselves such questions isn’t to beat ourselves up. And there will be seasons. Genuine periods of transition or adjustment. A new role; taking on new staff; a new baby… But where unhealthy practices are building into unhealthy habits, it’s healthy to want to change – and I need God to help me do that. And what struck me in that train carriage last week is that the solution can’t be to always ‘reason the season’.

The Revd Robin Ham serves at Grace Church, Barrow.

Previous

Next