Wednesday, 24 February 2016

I Know What I Like - A Tragedy of no Ambition?

A young person decides there is no point in trying too hard. On the "Selling England" album, of all  albums, this might make sense. The idea that rampant retail commercialism is resulting in the country's soul being sold off. The East End Heroes beating each other to death over who gets to run the protection racket. What's a bit less likely to end in woe all round?
When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench
I can always hear them talk.
Not doing any harm. We might argue that - on a professional level - keeping those mowing blades sharp ain't such a bad aim. The gardener has the sun as a companion, the chance to have lie-down at lunchtime - no anxious moments huddled over a spreadsheet before the next big cost-based accountancy beanfeast. And does somebody on a bench, prior to getting up for the afternoon's mowing, really achieve less than somebody who's a big hit in the fire escape trade? As the proverb puts it - "Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife." (Prv 17:1)

Some will always put "the Church" as a better ambition than all "worldy" ones. Priests and missionaries get more prayers than lawn-mowers and supermarket checkout assistants, that's for sure. Ironically, as it's the people at the checkouts that are most at risk from the world as it changes to Internet deliveries and self-checkout. There's a Thomas Hardy short story - "A Tragedy of Two Ambitions". In it two particularly vile wannabe vicars let their father drown to protect their sister's marriage prospects - and their own careers.

And then there's this advert in the Church Times. For a "priest/entrepreneur". I'm gonna be fair, I hope. I can see why in a mission field entrepreneurial skills are a good thing. We wouldn't want every priest to be just "caring" for their parishes. Some have to be doing the work of an evangelist - or enabling the work of other evangelists - developing Spirit-inspired strategies. Looking to where there is need and developing strategies for growth is so dreadfully needed. But the word worries me. It has overtones of pushiness, of seeing the main chance. Maybe it is just that word. To quote the advert a bit further:
"caring for two delightful villages combined with working to maximise mission opportunities afforded by urban and cultural redevelopment."
See that's a heck of a thing to expect of anyone. Although it is what we maybe implicitly expect all the time of pastors in any location. But to be entrepreneurial is to constantly looking out for - in this instance - mission opportunities. Constantly wondering what is needed. That's a lot of printing, meeting, greeting, publicising, networking, building, starting. seeing when the thing started was the wrong thing. To add caring for the two existing plants on top of that - I dunno. You're looking for two different skill sets, two different people probably. Or one, tired, disillusioned one perhaps - too busy caring to innovate, or too busy innovating to care.

Everybody has a right calling - and maybe different callings at different times. The Spirit gives out gifts for the edification of the Church - and brings them to work together for the Body as a whole. Some are called to care, some to mission, some to be big cheeses in the fire-escape trade - and maybe some are called to sit on the bench and feel the sun beat down and think.
Me - I'm just a lawnmower: you can tell me by the way I walk.

1 comment :

  1. Has anyone told the C of E how many "entrepreneurial" start-ups fail, and how many that don't only survive because of VC funding?

    Just a thought.


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