A couple of months ago, I wrote on my feelings on people thinking I was near the beginning, rather than the end of my probation. Bottom line, it terrified me.
I talked this over with a couple of wise friends and with The Boss. All pointed out I should be enjoying it, rather than beating myself up, or trying to 'find the flaws'. And they were right. I have noticed, by focusing on the positives the things I needed to improve on have done so actually quite naturally. It also means I am more and more comfortable, not only in what I am saying and doing (and being) as I learn and grow at Airside, but I am really beginning to accept the congregation there are looking to me to teach them, to listen to them, to (a certain extent) lead them.
It hadn't really occurred to me that the 'expectation' placed on me, the congregation wanting to listen to what I am saying, wanting to seek me out to listen to them, wanting me 'just' to be there was something I wasn't that comfortable with. Every Sunday (though not only on a Sunday) I had been looking out, seeing all those faces looking at me and not really 'got' that they wanted to listen. (Does this make sense?).
Yet, that's part of what I am called to do. Lead worship, preach the good news, teach the congregation. After the conversations about the pressure I felt of 'being too good' and realising how much I have been taken to the hearts of Airside congregation, I realise I need to be who I am and accept (really accept) the calling placed on me. And accept, despite some highly educated people (much more educated than I am) in the congregation, including retired ministers, when 'up front' it is me they are wanting to hear (well, actually, I really hope they hear God's word, working through me, but that's probably a post for another time).
Which means I am much more comfortable in more than scratching the surface in preaching, much more comfortable in trying things out (last week, I included pictures in the sermon, which really worked) and making a fool of myself if necessary. The people gathered have come to worship and hear the word of God preached. When I step up to do that, they want to listen to what I have to say. It's a great privilege and honour to be called to do this, to be allowed to do this too.
The good thing is, despite my concerns (or was that fears?), I am still improving. A member of the congregation mentioned that my confidence has really improved, but I wasn't un-confident to begin with - we knew what she meant, but it's hard to explain. I do hope that confidence doesn't turn to cockiness, as then I would fall on my face.
The whole teaching thing is a little ironic, as I originally 'planned' to become a chemistry teacher. Many people once told me I would make a good teacher, but I never did fulfil that ambition. Yet, there I am, 5 months into probation, being a teacher of sorts. It hadn't really occurred to be until last week, when a member of the congregation (who is a retired teacher) told me "It is the sign of a good teacher that they allow their pupils to think and work out things for themselves. You do that, Mrs G." Wow. Looks like my ambition to teach was a calling too, I hadn't realised it till now.