Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Virtual Retreat : an administrative response!

One of the questions I suggested for reflection at the RevGals Virtual Retreat was
"Which mountains in your life are really molehills"?
I've been sitting with that one a bit since writing, and have decided that my biggest range of Andean molehills involves, unsurprisingly, things to do with admin, management, and meetings.
I know these are my area of weakness, so I avoid confronting them until they have grown to the point where they are nearly as huge and unmanageable in reality as they are in my thoughts.
I wish I was certain that recognising this would be, in itself, a solution to the problem - because I know that I'm much less than the person I should be while I am snarling at all and sundry because I've lost something vital, or panicking at all those bits of paper that need love, care and attention, if I could only make time for them.
It's not precisely the area I expected to reflect on - after all, this bete noir doesn't seem very "spiritual" at first glance. But if it is impacting on my ministry as a priest here, and preventing me from being comfortable and attentive in the present moment, then I guess it's a spiritual issue right enough. Time, then, to learn from those who've conquered the dragon.

Very early in my blog life I encountered Howard another Anglican priest, a few years ahead of me in his ministry (I think he left his curacy as I completed the first year of mine). We have one or two friends in common and have narrowly missed meeting at Greenbelt, - so he is one of those blog connections whom I feel I know fairly well.

The other day, though, he might just have been writing from inside my head (if that doesnt sound unduly freaky)...

He was mulling over a recent PCC meeting at which he had adopted a different approach, and contrasted it with a scenario which I enacted pretty much exactly as he describes, only on Wednesday.

"One issue concerning meetings is how the Priest relates to a meeting such as this PCC one. We try to swap the chairing of the meeting round a bit, because there can be times when I chair, report and jot down actions all in the same few moments - that is a recipe for disaster! I may as well just get on with the job and cancel the meetings. It is, I think, almost impossible to chair a meeting properly at the same time as being the person about whom the discussion centres, or upon whom resulting actions will be placed. I don't need to gather 14 people in for a couple of hours just to feel bad about stuff suck on my to-do list - I can do that for myself at home, thank you very much."

I'm unlikely to forget my first PCC meeting at church in the valley. I came home euphoric, since several decisions had been made which felt very important to me as I began my ministry here,-things that I felt would make a huge difference to the whole climate of our church, things which seemed long overdue.
It wasn't till I sat down to look at the actions that I realised that every single one of them bore the note "Action:KF"
Hmmn...So much for collaborative ministry.

If you're another unwilling chair, or an adminophobe, Howard's whole post (and others on the same theme) are well worth a read.
Clearly he is far more organised and strategic than I, and rather than adopting my preferred method of coping with meetings (ie shrieking hysterically both before and after the proceedings, though hopefully not while they are actually in process) is reading some useful stuff, and sharing the fruits on the blog.

Good idea, that, actually learning from experience! I must try it one day...
Truly, I do need to detach myself sufficiently from the busyness of Getting Things Done in order to think about how we do them. My experience on the Leadership course suggests that I won't find that easy - but this Advent is teaching me with some force that this needs to be done.
So, I'll aim to complete one overdue admin task from the to do list each day of this first week of Advent. A strange response to an Advent Quiet day maybe but one that might actually make a difference to how attentive I am to God in the weeks ahead.


Songbird said...

I have a friend who cleans something every day during Advent. I thought it sounded awful when I first heard it, but I now see how much spiritual sense it makes. (Which is not to say that I do it...)

Crimson Rambler said...

so familiar, and so CLARIFYING also...thank you~