Hi everyone, been a while since I wrote; in that time work has been busy, Ive enjoyed a holiday period in Shrewsbury and am now getting myself back into the swing of things,
and as I return to ‘the swing of things’ Ive found myself reflecting on priorities; what are my priorities in life ?
Firstly, Ive been thinking of how he nature of my Ministry has changed considerably since I first came into Circuit life in Oldham in 1991 as a young Probationer Minister; Now I find myself holding responsibility as a Superintendent Minister and as Deputy Chair of District. Within the latter role I am also taking on additional responsibility as a Titular (stand-in) Superintendent for the neighbouring Circuit and as such my mind is currently full of making necessary plans dominated by how to handle additional meetings without becoming meeting bound and having no time for anything else. It gets harder to make room for people and yet I won’t give up on meeting and sharing with others for that’s where my heart burns.
Secondly, Ive loved spending time with Alison on holiday and we’ve both committed ourselves to trying to take more time off and getting away from the Manse. When your home is also your workable it becomes too easy to constantly be thinking of what needs to be done and what hasn’t been completed. When I was in the Civil Service I’d walk out of the office at the end of the day and not think about it until I was walking back in the following morning. In Ministry thats rarely possible. I wake in the night occasionally (only occasionally, don’t worry) and find myself thinking about the jobs for the following day, and so we’ve said that we need to get away from the Manse and therefore the telephone etc. more often otherwise our respective Ministries will totally consume us. Not easy but its the only way we’ll cope with the additional work on both sets of shoulders. (Alison takes on a greater responsibility in September in her own Church as well).
Alongside spending more time with Alison we both give daily thanks for the wonderful family that we have around us. Blessed to still have Alisons Mum and my Dad, we both have great brothers who look after them as we’re so far away, but closer to home we have Rebecca and Michelle and Vicky and Mark. In all their different ways they have enriched our lives but none more so than our dear grandchildren wo both stretch us and frustrate us, worry us and cheer us. Piper and Emett have brought such love to us and not a day goes by without us thinking about what they’re up to. It is a great family and we give thanks for them, alongside special friends with whom we share our lives; Judith, the Woods, the Chalmers and the Greens have all become such an integral part of us that we cannot imagine life without any of them
Friends and family are essential to well-being, as is taking time to pursue interests such as football, Rotary and I really want to get back to theatre-going somehow.
Finally, I return to the question of how do I pull all this in and which is my priority ?
I think you all know the answer that I give, which is the latter of family and friends, but how does this equate with my Ministry ?
At the centre of the whole of my life is my love of Jesus and whilst I accept that not all of my readers will follow the same line of thinking, for me it is that love which holds me in all things and makes sense of all things; as long as I keep returning to Jesus it makes sense of everything else and prevents me getting over absorbed in the wrong priorities. He redirects me back to those areas that he considers important and that is relationships far more than the structures of the Methodist Church, far more than Brexit, far more than my own petty desires.
Jesus said “Love your neighbour as I have loved you”. I am so aware of his love for me that I understand how important loving other people actually is. When we arrive at Pipers home its great to stand on the outside of the door and hear her shouting with excitement “Its Grandad, hide” Far from wanting to avoid me she’s genuinely overjoyed to see Alison and I. Thats my priority, to have that sense of excitement over other people, that joy I their presence, that ability to see them as Jesus sees us and to love them with his love which is the greatest force of them all.
Jesus, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end