Tag Archives: Gospel of Matthew

Pearls of Wisdom

Pearls of Wisdom

Pearls of Wisdom

During my recent course on Leading God’s People Today (LGPT) we had the opportunity to create an Open Space in which a question of our choice could be asked by two or three of us, who then proceeded to set up ‘market-stalls’ in different venues, where the only thing on offer was the question and a request for thoughts or answers. The other participants could then choose to come and browse your ‘stall’ for a long or as short a time as they wished, drift off to another stall and return again if they wanted

I felt this was too good an opportunity to miss! Here were about a dozen ‘leaders’ of various types. Some with vast knowledge in their particular field, some who were still learning as they went along and others with lots of concrete life experiences. The majority of them were clergy with a sprinkling of lay people thrown into the mix.

My question?…… What advice would you give to a new Ordinand? Subtext – Spill the beans on all of those things that your training establishment might neglect to tell you

Their answers turned out to be not unsurprisingly good and honest. In fact they were not only valid points for a clergy person but could also be useful to anyone whose life involves meeting, caring for and engaging with other people. I share them with you here:

On finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it’ Matthew 13:46

Value Friendships – Remember friendship like any other relationships needs time and effort on both sides. Hold on to those who have travelled longest with you, don’t leave them out of your lives even though your job may mean that you are having to meet lots of new people. There will probably be many who will want to know you simply because of your position; some of them will turn out to be true friends others pastoral  acquaintances.

Take care of yourself – You’re of no use to anyone else if you end up being the one who needs looking after. Give yourself time off and don’t feel guilty. If you’re feeling stressed recognise that it’s time you found a safety valve in order to let off steam. Find a hobby that’s completely away from your line of work – collect orchids, take up tap dancing, play online computer games with the pseudonym Daft Vacar

You’re in it for the long haul – Things may be new and exciting at first and you might be buzzing with ideas, but you have to pace yourself. You are not going to change the world overnight or the choir’s penchant for repeatedly singing the Wesley brothers 18th century top twenty hits. These things take time… make the most of making memories for the future.

However – Be aware that change is inevitable – You may think after a few years that you’ve got it just right and it will be all plain sailing from now on; but there’s no time for complacency. You only have to look back over the last ten years and realise how much things have already changed, not only in your life but in the world around you. So be flexible and accepting of change – it might not be as bad as you or those around you think

You won’t get it right all the time – so be prepared to admit it was all your fault and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes it may be easier to take the blame anyway as this will allow things to move forward. Moreover, on those occasions where you so very clearly were right, suppress the urge to do a victory dance up and down the aisle shouting ‘Go me, go me!’* and instead be gracious and forgiving yourself. After all we all make mistakes!

Don’t forget to laugh a lot – We know that Jesus wept, and no doubt there will be plenty to be sorrowful about over the years. There are also bound to be days when you want to scream at the world to sort itself out. However, maintaining a sense of humour should be a priority. Laugh at the absurdity of life, laugh with your friends, laugh out loud – it really is still the best medicine. Be mindful though that not everyone is going to be appreciative of your sense of comedy – they may not laugh at your jokes…. or if they do it might be out of pity!

Remember to laugh a lot

Remember to laugh a lot

Some really valuable advice then to hold on to – genuine pearls of wisdom

*This apparently is particularly unhelpful during the Sunday morning Eucharist service

Come to Me, All Who Are Weary

Come to me all who are weary

Come to me all who are weary

Last week as I started to draft out this blog, I was sitting in a small cafe in the middle of the busy market town of Bradford on Avon. Its patrons were a mixture of tourists and locals, all taking the opportunity to grab a bite to eat; a quick coffee. Outside the roads hummed with cars and lorries performing an intricate and continuous dance punctuated by roundabouts and traffic lights. Tucked away in a window bay,  it gave me the chance to spend precious moments just ‘musing’ amidst all the hustle and bustle

Nowadays,  in this all too brief earthly world, it can often appear that everything needs to be planned to the nth degree. People rush headlong into the next thing they think needed doing yesterday, so that the present moment is never savoured and burnout is experienced not only in the gym but equally in everyday living.

So often we take on too much, trying to knit together all our tasks into a beautiful complex pattern only to despair when it all starts to unravel. We long for a breathing space – sometimes we just simply want a chance to breathe. When was  it that it became necessary  to live life at such a breakneck speed that each day blurs into the next?

No doubt we would all end up in chaos if we all decided tomorrow to lay aside our ‘work’ and rush to the nearest beach/mountaintop/woodland to escape it all…. rules and regulations both written and unspoken keep us on track most of the time; still it makes sense that creating regular moments aside is not only sensible and healthy, but essential for our spiritual well-being – so why not make a rule to create a recreation space for ourselves

St Benedict in the sixth century introduced his rules for the monks in his community. Not only were there set times for prayer, work and private study but time was set aside each day for recreation and fellowship. However, if you’re still thinking you’d find it difficult to do something like this daily even taking a few minutes each day to re-centre yourself can be helpful – for me the time spent in morning prayer seems to set me up each day. Take five minutes to start with a moment of quietness and then gradually extend that time a little bit each day. I was also recently reminded that the Jewish faith uses the evening before their Sabbath (Shabbat) to say their prayers so that their minds and bodies can be prepared whilst resting overnight – why not take those five minutes then, to quietly review the the day, giving thanks for all the good things and gaining strength for the day ahead.

Jesus himself knew the benefits of taking time away from his work in prayer and solitude. Whether he ever fully achieved this is uncertain during his ministry years, but at least he attempted to and undoubtedly did cherish that time. Ultimately though his concern was for others ….

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ Matthew 11:28-30

…… A welcome invitation. Nevertheless,  for the majority of people the closest thing we get to finding a real space for rest is during an annual holiday – which is exactly what I’ll be doing over the next couple of weeks. This is when we can and should allow ourselves to relax and rediscover our inner self – the self that as children just woke up and made of the day whatever adventure  presented itself to us.

Now where did I put that bucket and spade?