Monday, 15 September 2014

New experiences

Yesterday brought with it a new experience, but one which I think even The Boss was surprised was new to me. I sat on the 'serving' side of the communion table as it was served. Not being an elder, nor having been involved in communion in any of my placements (except by way of sitting with the congregation), I had never had the opportunity to be involved. It's a strange experience seeing it from 'the other side' and one I will need to get 'used to.'

Apart from communion, which Laura administer, I led the rest of the service. Again, linking the sermon to communion was a new thing for me, as the way things have worked out thus far, I had never preached when communion was being served before. Generally, I think the sermon and prayers I led went well, but perhaps should stick more to my notes. Going off script seems to lead to unforeseen issues, as I loose track of where I am and panic when I realise I have no idea where in my script I am.

The children's address didn't come together as well as I would have liked. It may have been a disconnect between me and the congregation, as I talked to the children (who aren't that chatty). I also thought I had what I was going to say sussed, but realised as I got little reaction that I perhaps hadn't thought it through as well as I thought I had. After the service, someone did ask why I came off the 'stage' (their word), as that means the congregation can't see me as well. Yesterday, with extra things around for communion and the praise band, had I stayed on the 'stage', I would have been a fair bit away from the children, with lots of stuff between us too.

In 'opposition' to my normal custom and practise, I also didn't use the pulpit. This was not down to any 'big' reason, of linking word and sacrament through preaching the sermon from the communion table. No, it was down to having really painful knees and struggling to stand and sit. The short walk and few stairs up to the pulpit could not have been done with any sort of gravitas or dignity yesterday.

Not much comment was really made after the service, except regarding the children's address. One person, who I didn't recognise, did say I was finding my feet (yes, they are at the end of my legs!). I will take that as a complement, though I really realise just how much I still have to learn. Argh!!!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Supportive support group

I can't remember I've mentioned this, but on probation we are to have congregational support groups. These are people drawn from the congregation, who offer support (funnily enough) to the probationer. But, because they aren't ministers, they 'look' for different things to the supervisors. Which is great. And, I am also finding, they are a group who I can ask questions of and feel supported by any time, not just when we are having our 'formal' (that is a misnomer) meetings.

We've met twice as a whole group. They are really great, all wanting the best from me and cover a reasonable diversity of the congregation. Again, great. But they think I am brilliant. In our first meeting, there were some 'negatives' (which were more questions than anything). In our second, it was all a bit too positive. (Yes, what does it say about my mindset that too much positivity feels wrong?).

There is one person in the group who, while all their comments where very positive and encouraging at our last meeting, seems to have got it right in terms of telling me what I need to hear. She was the person who asked questions the first time and in our second meeting talked about more than just the latest service. It's not to say the others aren't good, but she seems to have really got it.

The 'trouble' is, it's all very positive. I know I shouldn't be complaining, but I am all too aware I learn from my mistakes (oh, and how well educated should I be?), rather than always getting things right. Again, perhaps I am being harsh on myself and must remember my support group are doing exactly that - supporting me. They know I am 'new' to all this, and are taking that into account. I just hope and pray I can live up to their expectations of me, when I am a minister. Mostly, I don't want to let God down, but suspect he won't let that happen.

Friday, 5 September 2014

I am who am

A while ago, someone said to me "you don't realise the impact you have on others." Me being me, wasn't sure that was intended in a positive way. It was a statement within a particular context, where I was struggling with something and how I am in relation to others was part of that 'struggle.'

But now, I wonder if it was intended as a compliment. Most people I have encountered at Airside (and previous placements) have commented how I seem to just get on with people - be able to listen and engage with most folks (there will always be those we all just 'can't', but that's life). Both in my time up north and in a week or 2 of being at Airside, I felt I had fitted right in. Again, others commented (and complemented me) on that.

Then via Spot and other contacts, heard of people in previous placements and fellow candidates wondering how I was doing. I even had people from one group I have left say they will miss my take on our discussions.

So, am I underestimating myself? Am I harking back to past criticism from one individual and holding back from being who I really am, as called by God, as made and loved by God?

Yet, I realise I have to be careful with this. Being who I am, who I truly am is not about putting on a front to hide behind, but being willing to be open and vulnerable so God's love can (I pray) shine in and through my engagement with others. Putting on a facade, they will see me, not God's love. But to be fully me opens me up to vulnerability, to pain, to rejection. Potentially. Or, it opens me up to joy and laughter and hope and peace and love.

So I pray I am who I am (oh, better be careful with that expression), created in the image of God and a follower of Christ. Called to minister in his name. Called to follow where he leads. Lets hope my engagement with people is right in and through that calling.

Friday, 29 August 2014

I need to chill a wee bit

Am I being too hard on myself? When I reflect on what I've done, I know what has gone well, but pick holes on what hasn't (which I have done). I want to learn; I want to improve. But, I wonder, do I get hung up on the 'negatives' that I focus on them and the 'positives' slip, or I loose sight of what I am good at.

My last post, I spoke of having my ministerial voice pointed out to me. Yes, much of this is down to nerves and, if I am being honest, a bit of lack of confidence in myself. This despite having lead worship on my 'own' for almost a year before beginning probation. But, during that time, I was not being assessed. I've never been at my best when I know I'm being assessed and, while I know I need (and want) it, can't quite get over the mindset which puts up this 'barrier' within, leading to less confidence in what I know I can do well. (And, if this makes sense in anyone else's head, I will be impressed).

The comments I get from the congregation, both from my support group and in general, are good - very good, in fact. They aren't just polishing my ego, that's for sure, but even the 'negatives' are more things to tweak or think about, rather than 'proper' negatives. (Sigh, this is really not making sense, is it?)

I also know part of my problem, in this regard, is Laura is such a gifted preacher, I am quite in awe of her ability and, in a way, wish I could emulate it. But I am not Laura, and certainly do not have 20 years of experience under my belt.

And that is, perhaps my problem. I am comparing myself to someone with so much more experience than I have, rather than comparing myself to others in my position. It's easier said than done to do the latter, as it's not very easy getting to hear my probationer peers lead worship.

I need to remember there are many things I am good at, not focus too much on the negatives and remember I have only 5 minutes experience. I can improve with more experience, and that will come. Basically, I just need to chill a wee bit, don't I?

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Speak normal, not ministerially

I have a good clear voice, good diction. I can be heard. But boy, when I've heard myself on recordings so far at Airside, I am just bordering on a wee bit too slow and clear. Please don't tell me I am developing a 'ministers' voice. PLEASE.

Okay, so this is probably down to nerves. I have, after all, only preached at Airside 3 times thus far. But I do the same with prayers too. Yet only within the context of leading public worship.

When I am asked to pray at meetings, it's 'normal' Mrs G. But then, I don't need to fill a room. (Yes, I know, that's what PA systems are for - suppose I'm still getting used to Airside's one being very good).

The other difference is when I am asked to pray at meetings, I have to 'make it up as I go along, so to speak. I have no notes, nothing I have to be reading, nothing to 'inhibit' me. Don't know if that is the case, but might be a factor.

I know I need full written out prayers and script for leading worship. When I go off piste I can repeat myself a little, which I know I have sorted in the written form (especially when it comes to preaching).

Of course, it could be is down to nerves. Nerves that everyone is now looking at me. Nerves that I am being assessed (I know this will always happen, but not in the same way as now). Nerves at speaking God's word to those gathered. Nerves at making a hash of it....etc etc.

I wonder why so worked up. I've been at Airside for almost 2 months now. I have fitted in disturbingly well, so much so that, in some ways, it feels like I've been there for years. The congregation and Laura are fantastic (in general) and exceptionally supportive of me. Really, I should be seeing myself as among friends, so why can't I speak 'normal'?

Hopefully, this will get better in time, but I am wondering how I get over this, without losing the 'edge' of the wee bit of nerves because what I am doing is important.