Spent part of the afternoon with my territorial Archdeacon today going over an Exit Interview for the two parishes that I will be leaving soon. We sat outside in the cooling evening and went over about a dozen questions. It was an affirming time for both of us. Giving time for reflective thought about ones own ministry is a good thing that I think more people should do not only for an exit, but also in mid-stream.
General questions and some prompting by the Archdeacon helped me to uncover some truths and some growing areas in the parishes as well as in my own ministry. There have also been times when I have sat with a Spiritual Director, or even a close friend, to go over some of my challenges and areas of accomplishment. No matter how many times I have done this process I seem never to learn. I typically start with questioning the rational, saying, “why bother?” I then end up the process feeling like I have go through a great spiritual exercise feeling unburdened, and renewed. The same is true for today and it makes me think that it is a practice of reflection and prayer that can really make a difference in ones ministry.
How often do we get stuck in our small issues and plans and feel disappointed, or perhaps edge the opposite way into self-aggrandizement? Having a trusted peer or friend to help us listen to the words we speak and reflect back what we are feeling, or attempting to convey is important soul work. Time has certainly flown past while at the two parishes, and even my role has changed a couple of times; yet this can all be ignored or brushed aside without much thought to the significant relationships that have been formed and the ministry which has been conducted.
With some closer observation in our own lives we see the work of the Holy Spirit in our past, and this trains for a vision of the future. God has been with us every step of the way in the two parishes and challenges that at one time seemed insurmountable have become greatly reduced with the passage of time and much prayer. What has not been reduced is the journey of Jesus with us as Christians living out our baptismal ministries. Rather, these ministries have come to the forefront of our time together, and have taken up the focus of both our past, our present and promises to be in our future.