‘Bread for the Journey’

In ministering to three congregations during the pandemic, I found it easy to slip into a weekly routine which centred on the provision of online and (when allowed) in-person worship. The leading and preparing of worship has always fed my spiritual health. However, I was aware that the routine had become a little, well to be honest, routine! The ministry team were doing their thing, and the Elders were caring for their people as I sought to care for the Elders, yet something was not quite right. What was wrong? Perhaps it was just a niggle. Perhaps it was the concern “How do I help my congregations live with the decisions I voted for at the 2021 General Assembly, not least the reduction in ministries?”

As I was pondering this, an invitation to take part in Coaching arrived by email from Ascend. I had heard about Coaching and thought it might be a way of doing something new, of exploring ideas for the future and having them reflected back to me. What I found was a monthly space to stop and reflect on where I was, and how I hoped to develop my own ministry and the ministry of God’s people in the parishes I serve. There was also the chance to bounce around some ideas about where to go with that.

I was paired with Sandra Black and while we never met in person, we did seem to “click” over Zoom. Sandra never offered me a solution to the issues I was exploring, but always asked the right questions, to elicit answers from me, leading me to see those issues from a new perspective. Sandra provided me with the time and the space to plan for Study Leave. In providing me with the space to reflect on the practice of my ministry, I was again reminded of the need to care for myself, body, mind and spirit in order to be able to minister to my parishes.

As a result, I do block out times in my diary to be alone and to be with family and friends. I have reshaped my devotional life that includes time to worship God with my body – something which had been squeezed out of my own personal routine. If I choose to worship God with my body, then I do not feel guilty about that time and it reminds me that my body should be a temple of the Holy Spirit.