Taking stock, it has so far been a varied yet extremely demanding Lent. In between meetings there has been the all important ministry development reviews to conduct for clergy - a chance to take stock of the past year and look ahead to the next. The word development is important for us all. The Christian journey always brings challenges, and we all have to be equipped to meet the needs of a changing church and changing circumstances.
The problem with this is that clergy often do most of the teaching and resourcing for others, and so really have to plan to receive this for themselves. It is very easy, once the initial training is over, to carry on depending on past learning, the odd insight and the hope that a sabbatical will come someday. Hopefully though, with diocesan training becoming more responsive to clergy professional developmental needs, relying on text books purchased some 30 or 40 years ago might become a thing of the past. Incidentally, I well remember a colleague once remarking in a clergy chapter meeting 'Most people probably wouldn't have faith in their doctor if they saw only old text books on their bookshelves, so why should they take notice of some of us? ' which was quite a sobering prod for us to find time to keep up-to-date with our reading.
So, I find myself on this fourth week in Lent undertaking some professional development of my own. I am in Sheffield on a Bridgebuilders Course entitled 'Transforming Conflict for Senior Church Leaders'. Yesterday was great, honing listening skills, getting to know the other participants from various denominations and thinking about my own experience of conflict. On one hand, as I think about the in-tray, it's training I cannot really afford the time out for and I wished on Saturday I hadn't committed myself to, but, on the other, by booking it up a year or so ago and committing money to it, it's something I know will be well worth giving a week to. Besides, if I am going to encourage others to continue to develop their ministry, then I need to give time to developing mine!