Thursday, June 20, 2013


I knew, when I decided at the last minute that I would go to the postgrad seminar at UKZN that I would be putting myself under tremendous time pressure for the rest of June. I'm not sorry that I went, but things are a bit stressed at the moment! Assignments due, planning for church for the second half of the year especially leadership development, pressures due to final decisions regarding next year's stationing (not my decision!) and of course people in hospital, dying or just generally in need. But - my daughters are home for the holidays plus a boyfriend and I am going on leave in one week's time!
There will be stuff that doesn't get done. Things that I would like to do. But when the time comes to rest and be with family I intend to seize it with both hands.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Leadership Training

I have had one of those morning spent in pursuit of assignment completion that are frustrating. I suspect that what happens with my church assignments is as follows: The education committee meets and has some good ideas for training focuses and assignments. They invite speakers and ask them to suggest assignments. The speakers provide very thoughtful questions. The committee then realises that these need to be marked and so put in a word limit. The student must then wrestle with thought-provoking questions and provide answers within the word count. At one point today that had me needing to answer 44 sub points at 10 words each. I've obviously had to mash them together and it feels unsatisfying!


I have been wanting to set up leadership training for one of my societies all year and have been struggling with the format. Knowing that it was an assignment question, I held my guns and today I have it. I'm not sure how generally useful it would be, but for my people here in Mitchells Plain, this is what I need. So, my seminar will be:

Passion for Christ and ministry.  This is the foundation for Christian leadership. This theme would include Christian disciplines and the development of Christian character and integrity.
Working with a vision. This is an important part of team ministry. This theme includes understanding the vision of the church (MCSA and society), fitting the particular ministry into the scope of the vision, making a plan to achieve the vision.
Building a team of volunteers. One is only a leader if one has followers. This theme includes recruiting volunteers, providing for training, organising volunteers and motivating them.
Communication Skills. No one exists as an island. This theme includes communicating with the leader above, with peers, with the ministry team and with the broader community.
Admin and organising skills. The key word here is responsibility. The theme includes keeping an appointment book and timekeeping, attending meetings or apologising, keeping records, good financial governance, rosters and delegation. 

(with thanks to Rev Ian France who put these as requirements in an advert for a children's pastor and  where they suggested themselves to me as topic headings!)

Saturday, June 08, 2013

A sort of a Christian Maslow's Hierarchy

I thought of this, this morning - it is based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Need. Click on the picture to enlarge if you can't read the text. It makes sense, but I wonder if it is true. If we do not feel more truly ourselves does that mean that we are out of step with Jesus?
Or does he expect us to be willing to live and work in a way that goes against the grain?

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Putting Down or Picking Up

It has been a week of academics. I spent Monday and Tuesday at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal for a post-graduate seminar of progress reports. I found it beneficial to get my brain back into thinking critically, although my own work has been very slow. Hopefully, now that the direction of my thesis is confirmed I can get stuck in again. One of my supervisors invited me to submit a paper for a New Testament conference at UNISA later this year. I am terrified . . . I have to make a choice, as I will explain just now.

Wednesday and Thursday morning were spent at Stellenbosch University Winter School. This was less mentally intense than the postgrad thing, but also good to be part of. I think this must be the first time that I have experienced fellowship with NG Kerk theologians and church people. Very Afrikaans! Although they spoke English almost throughout, one could feel the effort it cost.

But it has all helped to reinforce the unsettled feeling that has been developing in me for the last four or five weeks. What am I? Why am I in ministry? What is my long term destination?
More specifically - do I persevere with academic work or do I focus on working in this community where poverty is the order of the day (and the academic stuff is pretty much irrelevant)?

Probably I will continue to do my best to do both, but ideally I should either drop the theology and academics or I should pick up the pace and do it properly. I can't possibly submit a paper to a conference without deciding to do it properly!

John Wesley said to go to those who need you most. Who is that I wonder?

Sunday, June 02, 2013

A Poem from the Holocaust

A discussion about the Documentary Hypothesis with my husband led me to thinking about the poem below. It was part of my Bib Studs course way back when I did my degree. I seem to remember it being presented as an actual happening rather than a poem (so I was a bit miffed when I realised now that it was not actually found in a railway car.) It was part of explaining how Cain and Abel can be seen as anti-xenophobic literature. It was written by someone who spent his formative years in a concentration camp during the second world war. The poem cycled through my mind last night. It is by Don Pagis and you can find other of his poems here. [It is intended to be unfinished. And you can just start the poem again after reading the last line . . .]

Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car
here in this carload
I am eve
with abel my son
if you see my other son
cain son of man
tell him I