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.