Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Are you ready?

In recent rounds of the Interview Game, maggi has been asking fellow bloggers Rhys and Mark (both of whom seem unimaginably grown up in ministry to me, as I'm not yet one year old ;-) ) whether they feel that selection and training for ordained ministry works well (read their answers here and here ). They both travelled the more traditional route of a 2 year full-time residential course whereas I, with exam-ridden older children and a self-employed husband not keen to relocate his business , opted for three year's part-time here in Gloucestershire. For the most part I loved it. Academic study was sheer bliss after too long a holiday to rear the children. I relished the the fact that we were perhaps a more eclectic bunch than I might have encountered if I'd opted for a college to match my own churchmanship. The disjunction we experienced through only being together one night a week, plus assorted residential weekends and Easter schools each year was mitigated by many a midnight email, and I'm confident that I have soul-mates for life among those I trained with.
However, at times I felt very frustrated that time constraints meant that I could only read for a specific essay title, with no chance to explore other roads along the way. I was still trying to earn a living and do the essential mothering bits, so despite my best efforts at juggling, there simply wasn't time for more than a minimum,- and I was more and more excited by theology as the course progressed. As someone who depends on deadlines to get anything done at all, I was always trying to read that "one more book that would make all the difference"....and always aware of those other volumes that remained sadly on the shelf. Nothing was ever quite finished to my satisfaction, despite the extremely positive responses of my tutors. I always wanted a chance to do more, do better.
Now, 8 months into full time ministry, I'm so aware of all that I don't know, all that I've failed to read, all the areas there simply wasn't time to touch....but I'm also aware that the sense that there's so much more I could do was perhaps the best preparation of all. At the end of the day, nothing will ever feel quite enough. This extraordinary calling is one without boundaries, where it will rarely be possible to say "that's done and dusted", or "I've done my stint". Fortunately, it's not down to me to finish the job.


Rhys said...

Kathryn , you write " time constraints........... along the way."
actually it's the same for residential students (IMHO)because residential training seems to work on the principal of "if there's a gap in the timetable/the students have some free time - fill it and frankly it doesn't matter what they fill it with.
On the other hand if you're a single student in residential training you don't have the family committments (can you sort out dinner for the kids routine) so there is slightly more time to read more widely.And you end your post spot on as usual. It is in our unworthiness that we are made worthy. God's grace etc.
Residential training? for some yes for many no!

Caroline said...


is your training over?

I thrilled to read your comment on Maggi's site:

"The expansion of Kathryn's horizons continues apace...and it's such a fun process :-)"

I rather suspect that you're learning and will continue to learn. One of the most exciting things about heaven (which starts now) is that we have eternity to explore infinity - as I wrote in answer to Maggi's questions. I think that you're there!

be encouraged

Mary said...

YES! I can relate to all you say, Kathryn, and have pre-residential weekend midnight e-mails this very week to prove it. I decided to do the OLM (partly parish-based and highly collaborative) training suspecting it would be frustrating for all the same reasons as the more traditional part time course - only worse because its idea of being non-academic is to set ridiculously tight word limits which make it impossible to explore ideas in any depth (and without a deadline or incentive, and with the juggling thing, somehow you just don't do it on your own). And my suspicions were right! But I thought, and am still hanging onto the thought one year in, that the discipline of this way of doing things would be better for me than more academic study - but it is as frustrating as I imagined. However, all through my selection process there was a mantra about being not doing, incarnational not functional ministry, and surely that is the point.... Being there, or here, is what matters most, and doing the best we can, but seeing ourselves as instruments in an orchestra put together and conducted by God. Easier said than done, as I cease displacement activity, feed my family and brood on two presentations for Saturday as yet untouched.
And talking of displacement, I should never have started this blogging business.....