As i have carried on in ministry i have learned that i have limitations
'no, really?' i hear you cry!
Well, obviously i've always been aware of my many shortcomings, what with having a natural tendency to low self-esteem and all that, but it is amazing how the training that many ministers receive and the attitude of those we minister to and with gives the impression that the ordained leadership of the church can and must be omnicompetent - as if we meet every job with a cry of 'this is a job for Clergy-man' (or -woman, -person, - squirrel or whatever) and rip off our normal clothing to reveal a shiny dogcollar that magically equips us for every situation, and our super shiny halo that lifts us above all we survey....
Of course it isn't like that. As a minister of the Church i hold tight, or rather i cling, to that wonderful phrase 'the Grace of Orders' (ie Holy Orders, what we who are ordained are called and subject to). It is this wonderful, sustaining, life-enhancing grace that seems to emerge just when we need it and stops us from going under. Really it is just a shorthand way of saying that whatever we are called to God is sufficient for our needs - whether it be ordained ministry, teaching, law enforcement, medicine, business or commerce or whatever our vocation is.
On the whole, my theology of priesthood and ministry stems from an understanding that together in Christ we are part of the 'priesthood of all believers' and that from within these ranks some of us are freed up to minister to and on behalf of the Church as our full time work. Yes i believe it is a vocation, yes i know it is more than a job, but ultimately any calling to ministry only finds its fullness in partnership with all who are working within the Missio Dei, the mission of God, which is the work of all Christian people.
So when we as ministers find ourselves overwhelmed, it is often because we have neglected that partnership, or have been unable to truly enter in to that partnership - for whatever reason (lack of people, resources, time etc etc)
With all that has happened in my life in the past few months i have reached a point where i seem to feel tired all of the time - partly because i am busy, partly because i am not sleeping enough, but mainly because i have invested much of myself in what i do, and i give a lot to it. I do this because i love it, and know (as i have said just a couple of weeks ago) the huge privilege that it is to do what i do - but i have to a certain degree filled up my days with doing and not enough being, i have neglected disciplines of prayer and stillness, i have not cultivated the shared ministry that i perhaps should have.
I have learned to distinguish between simply being tired due to busyness, and that emotional tiredness that comes from any part of life in which we give of ourselves. I have the opportunity to reflect a little more upon that this week as i go away to a 'parish consultation' at which i am sure such issues will be brought up.
Until then i keep on believing and remembering - just to get Biblical for a moment - 'I can do all things through the one who strengthens me' Phil 4.13