I had hoped to leave you with a beautifully poignant reflection about the last year before heading off on holiday, then I got sick and Eddie got fussy and that idea went out of the window, and instead I find myself sitting in front of the computer screen at 4am because I’ve randomly woken up and so I might as well do something useful with the time.
That in itself is probably a fairly accurate reflection on how the last year has gone. Thankfully 4am wake ups are unusual now, but it would be honest to say that things have been even less likely to go to plan since we became a family of three, and I’ve had to learn to roll with the punches and do what I can when I can.
It’s been a struggle for the part of me that instinctively likes order and pattern. I always knew that ministry would spill over any fences I tried to put around it, and I was prepared to welcome a little holy chaos into my life, but I had at least hoped that the more predictable elements would be able to find a more predictable routine. Recently though I have started to look at things a little differently…
I have been thinking for a little while now about the debate over whether ministry is ontological (to do with who you are) or functional (emphasising what you do). Personally I think it’s a bit of both, because I believe that the ministry we are all called to as believers is primarily about the character that is formed within us, and the ministry I am called to as a minister is about the particular role I take on within the community.
Seeing my position as functional reminds me that I am called to serve those who have commissioned me to this role, and to encourage them to find the roles they in turn have been commissioned to. But understanding that there is an underlying ontological dimension reminds me that I am called above all else to be the best version of myself, and that means that who I am in every aspect of my character and my relationships is of vital importance to what I do as a minister, and so I need to spend time being as well as doing.
That is an important corrective to the anxieties that creep in when my focus becomes entirely about my to do list and then life gets in the way of it. I want to find and model healthy rhythms of work and rest, for me and for my family and for my community, but the ministry I am called to is a whole of life commission, and that is always going to resist routine.
So far this has been something of a stream of consciousness, and you might be wondering why I really need to share any of this, but there are two reasons why I’ve not hit delete and kept this as a private reflection. The first is that I take my commitment to my community seriously, and I believe that commitment includes a degree of accountability. The second is that it’s easy for any of us to slip into purely functional mode, but the truth is that we all have whole of life commissions, and what any of us do can only come out of who we are.
And so my prayer for the community I have come to love so dearly, as many of us prepare to have our usual routines upended by the summer holidays, is that we will all find the freedom to simply be so that we can more joyfully do.