October 2011

PuzzleDear Friends,

Are you good at making decisions?

It’s something we do every day but it can prove challenging, especially when we are faced with many options, or you have no real experience of the changes some decisions require.

Let’s face it, a lot of us long to do something different, but are prevented by uneasy feelings and uncertainty about the possible consequences of those decisions. Taking leaps in the dark can be exciting but also a little disconcerting.

Fairly early on in my life my mother taught me about making lists. She was the queen of lists. Her favourite was the list weighing up pros and cons of any decision that had to be made. She’d fold a piece of paper in half and write pros on one side and cons on the other, and we’d sit there and work through it together (this usually happened when she wanted me to do something and I didn’t).

I remember doing this with my homework once.

  • Pros: getting a good grade, learning something, doing something I didn’t want to do (character building my mum said ), getting it done because I’d have to do it anyway eventually.
  • Cons: I want to go out with my friends, I don’t feel like it, I’ve done a day at school why should I do more work, I hate homework.

Needless to say I did the homework, got a good grade and went out with my friends. I just had to get on with it and stop whinging.

I’ve used mum’s method for making decisions many times. However, I’ve also discovered that sometimes one big ‘pro’ can outweigh a whole list of ‘cons’. This happened when I agonised over whether I should candidate for the ministry or not. A long process as it turned out.

The one big pro was that I believed in my heart of hearts that it was what I should do. The long list of cons began with, ‘I can’t do that, I’m not clever enough,’ closely followed by, ‘I’m a woman’, ‘I have a family’, ‘I’m not good enough’, etc., etc., etc.
Obviously the pro won the seriously debilitating tussle within me – eventually.

There’s a bit in the Bible where Paul speaks of being blown about by different ideas – I felt like that. But then, having completed a theology degree and launching myself into a MA, (thus proving I did have a brain after all) my then superintendant minister sat me down and said, ‘What are you doing? Why aren’t you candidating?’ From that moment on it all fell into place, the constant churning feeling that I’d lived with for years melted away, and I found peace.

I was fine; it was relatively easy after that. The worst bit was making the decision.

I can hear you thinking, why is she rabbiting on about this?

Well, this year we’ve all had to make a big decision about whether I continue my ministry among you for a further five years. This was a big decision for me. I hadn’t intended to spend the whole of my ministry in one appointment. ‘What was best for the churches, my family and me?’ I wondered. But above all, what did God want me to do? This time there was no churning or agonising for me – surprisingly. There is still work to do and I still enjoy it.

Furthermore, there was no great message from God saying, ‘Go’ in a loud voice, so I offered to stay and you said you wanted me to. So now you’re stuck with me for another six years altogether. A time, I hope, when we can continue to seize the opportunities that arise with enthusiasm and energy.

So, making decisions can be difficult or relatively easy.

As a circuit, we are in the process of making the final decision about joining with our neighbouring circuit, Blackheath and Lewisham. We’ve been talking about this for some time, during which we’ve experienced a certain amount of uncertainty and anxiety about the changes such a merger would bring. However, there are benefits and we can’t allow anxiety to stop us from doing something that’s right in the long term.

I’d like to end by thanking you all for the way you’ve supported me and my family over the last eight years. We’ve been through many things together in that time and we are continuing to build together into the future.

God Bless you,

Pam

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