I have just relinquished my Specified Ministry status. As of now I’m no longer a youth worker, and no longer considered to be in a ministry in the Uniting Church. It’s not a significant change – most people who read this probably won’t have ever known I was – but it is a moment to be marked.
The decision itself [to resign from the ministry] was a moment of great liberation, and not one I thought about much. Most of my life-changing decisions are made on a whim, and this one was no different. It’s been a long time since I recognised myself in the status, and I haven’t, for years looked for the support or structure it offered. It had become a convenience more than anything. But I was increasingly bemused that conversations within the christian community about my faith or spirituality – particularly conversations that began after people read posts here, or articles I wrote for the paper – would inevitably be focussed around the question, ‘so how can you believe what you believe and be in a specified ministry?’, not ‘tell me more about how you’ve come to this point in your life’… I’m only interested in the latter question; the first question defines me by something I’m not.
Long story short, someone was making life particularly difficult for me one day, by demanding things of my faith that it couldn’t give; I woke up next morning and thought, ‘this is not a battle i need to win, and it’s not a battle I should win’, and it seems the decision had already made itself. The sense of liberation was unexpected and delightful.
The moment of actual resignation was somewhat more anticlimactic. I wrote a letter to my presbytery. They emailed back to tell me that they used to have me on the roll, but they’d handed me over to another presbytery. When we contacted the other presbytery, they actually had never had me on their rolls. I was nowhere. I couldn’t resign because there was no-one to resign to. My great moment of relinquishment had in fact been pre-empted. It was pretty hilarious, and a lovely irony which makes me very happy.
I love working with an organisation that demands nothing of me but integrity, and forgives me when i fail that.
The reality of being in management hasn’t come easily to me. I’ve been stumbling into this role over the last few months. But even if I don’t know know what to do, at times, I’ve got to the point where I now know what’s important; what I can trust myself to deal with, what I can let go. It’s a good place to be.
Pádraig, on his recent visit, redeemed the idea of management in what was one of my hardest weeks. We were talking about the concept of curation, and he said ‘your management style is about curating space for people to work at their best’. Put like that, why would anyone want to do anything else?