Friday, October 15, 2010

Life Skills 435

Don't look for the previous 434. The numbers are a thing I make up because I can never remember where we got to. Click on the 'Life Skills' label on the sidebar to read previous efforts.

Anyway, on. It is a day free from duties. Some clergy call it their day off.

Now ministry is a bottomless pit. There is always stuff to mine (oops, mining metaphor, so soon). So when you get to the end of the day before a day off it is more than possible that you will have left undone that which you ought to have done. You will certainly have left undone that which you could have done but that ain't in the confession. No really it isn't. I checked. On Thursday night I stop for a day.

The only way to enjoy a day off with that background is to ignore the static. Saturday morning may see the need for a 'sorry I didn't get round to...' call. Don't stress about it today.

And a word of advice flies at me from a colleague I worked with in the north-east over twenty years ago. She was fond of saying, 'I am not here to live up to your expectations.' If others had unrealistic expectations of the super-powers of their clergy she felt that was their problem not hers.

I noticed a colleague in a meeting yesterday lamenting the fact that something else had come up which she had to do before going on holiday. In fact 'I won't be able to do that before I go on holiday tonight; could someone else get that done?' would have worked. If I'd thought about it I'd have offered but sometimes you gotta just ask for help. I was busy taking notes.

It is fine to try to live up to others' expectations but only if you have set them realistically. We will now be disappointed if the job is not done in time. Failure could have been avoided by changing the expectations.

Do you practise the 'I will try but I don't promise' response? Do you set helpful deadlines? For me, if something is needed to be done by next Monday, the deadline, in effect, is last thing Thursday. Fridays I keep free, Saturdays I keep clear of admin and only do necessary people tasks and Sundays, for a vicar, have enough in them already.

So the life skill is, once again, the simple task of being normal and making that clear to others. Be human and remind people you are. If you promise and don't deliver your life will be surrounded by the debris of shattered relationships.

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