At the moment, it's the season for 'reviews of the year' and such like things. It's not my style to do this. I like to think I at least try to review what's going on in my life - ministry and non-ministry related - fairly regularly and not just in relation to a change in calender.
There is no doubt, though, that the date change perhaps focuses the mind on what the following few months, at least may hold. Much of these ideas/thoughts/concerns have been stewing for a while. Seems like as good a time to write them out, as I often find the process of writing distills and condenses thought; clarifies them even.
I'm a couple of months into my pastoral placement. I'm not sure I'm doing as much as I should, and for a variety of (very good) reasons, my supervisor and I have not been able to formally meet to discuss since I began. I know there's this wee niggle in the back of my head which wonders if this will fulfil the requirements Ministries Council want of me. In a passing conversation my supervisor did suggest I may not need to be with her for too long, but I do not want to take things for granted. Not having formal paperwork, in this case, sort of makes things a bit more difficult, as there's no quantifiable means of measuring what I've done and how that matches (or otherwise) with the criteria laid down by 121. It's not that I'm paranoid, but don't want to get to this years annual review and have to put on hold probation as I, once again, failed to tick their boxes.
I've only 1 semester left at uni. I have, in the main, thoroughly enjoyed the study. I had talked before entering this ministry thing of going back to uni, doing it right and maybe doing some history - so far, 2 out of 3 isn't bad. My attitude throughout is to do as well as I can, but to focus on what I learn, but on the grades I obtain. There is so much I have learned from this period of study (e.g. managing priorities; thinking about the rules of diminishing returns; cost benefit analysis; targeted reading; etc, etc) which will never show up in the grades, but will stand me in good stead for the next stage in my journey. Before I get there, I have a dissertation and essays to write, exams to sit and presentations to make. All part and parcel of student life, but all leading to the end point of obtaining the qualification I need to follow my call.
Which is all getting to be quite 'real.' I've at least one, if not 2 friends who will be ordained in June. Though a different denominations, thus a different training program, it terrifies me that people I am currently studying will be entering the apostolic succession in less than 6 months! It also scares me that more and more people I know and love will be following them over the coming year or 2.
Occasionally, though, I wonder if I'll get there. The path I'm called to follow hasn't been smooth. I have struggled with aspects of it. I sometimes wonder if it's as much about me not quite being the 'right' sort of person to be a minister. Again and again that was why I took so long to do something about it. Since my first conference I have seen candidates who seem so sorted, so comfortable in their call, where their journey appears to be comparatively smooth. Then I remember that the best journeys I've ever been on were the ones where I went the alternative route, the narrower path, the less beaten track. As a consequence I saw and encountered things amazing and beautiful things I would not have if I have followed the more conventional route. My ministry training has been somewhat like that.
But life it's straightforward. It has it's ups and downs. It's highs and lows. Why shouldn't my path following God's call be like that too? But then, it's all about the journey not necessarily the destination.