|Actual in-flight smile air bound for Corfu. |
See what I mean?
I may be praying here too.
If it's possible to affect one's mood by smiling and thinking positive thoughts, perhaps its the same for the way we view church life. There are ways and ways of perceiving ministry: one day the emails can seem encouraging; the people we see are drawing near to God in good times and bad; the admin pile is a doddle to get through. On other days, the same set of circumstances can appear draining and difficult. What makes the difference?
Ignatian reflection encourages an attention to what blesses us and what drains energy from us. It's much more subtle than 'work is hassle; free time is renewing'. You can be blessed in your work and drained by 'boredom' at rest or by entertainment overload. It's about recognising that God's will for us is blessing; not all good times and no suffering; but blessing. And we need to move in the general direction of the things in which we're individually designed to flourish. I will never be blessed by studying church law or accounts; but some will.
|Widely regarded as a bit grumpy...|
Positive ministry is one where encouragement abounds due to a sense of gratitude for all we experience, which is pure gift. Not everything hangs on me: I believe in collaborative ministry and that the buck stops with God. It is gratitude and the sense that it is not all about me that provokes positivity and a sense of well-being. To meet a negative person (or worse, cleric) is to see one for whom the stresses and strains of ministry have sucked all the spark out of life. This is not God's purpose for us, nor is it a great picture to present to the world.