Walking and working

Today is my day off, and I took myself for a walk through our local woods and fields.   I chatted to some cows (they never bother me as I cross fields as long as I talk to them, usually about the weather), and spent most of the time thinking about not very much at all.  
At lunchtime, I found myself passing through our local Science Park (i.e business park).  I met lots of people wearing swipe cards on lanyards round their necks going for a stroll.  This was so strange for me – two years ago that was me – albeit in a different business park.  It reminded me strongly of the world I left behind when I was ordained.  One of the challenges is to remember how much I needed support at that time, in order to live a Christian life in a big corporation.  There were many good people trying to act ethically, but in the end, it was always all about shareholder return.
During the “Ethics” course at college, a very lovely (ordained for a long time) lecturer asked us if we ever faced ethical dilemmas at work.  In the room was someone whose job was to inspect factories in China, and chose which ones should be used for manufacturing for his company, someone who worked in Internal Audit (whose job was to check the work of the rest of the company), someone who designed weapons systems, etc etc.  The lecturer was extremely taken aback by the range of decisions we faced at work every day.  It struck me there was such a massive disjoint between our understandings of ethics and the worlds in in which we lived.   And I was amazed by his surprise.  It made me determined to stay aware of the dilemmas of those who face difficult decisions every day, and to support them as much as I coudl once ordained.  To be honest, I haven’t been very good at finding out what people’s jobs are in our churches.  I certainly haven’t asked them what support they need.
It’s time I did.

3 responses to “Walking and working

  1. Excellent point, Clare. For myself I've discovered that dropping in on people for a coffee at their place of work (if possible) is extremely valuable and often much appreciated. I also make a point of asking my parishioners to explain their work to me and what an average work day looks like to them.

    I've also discovered that my parishioners often don't know much about each others' work either. So from time to time we have what I call a 'this time tomorrow' service. Instead of the sermon, I get three parishioners to answer the following questions:

    1. What will you be doing at work this time tomorrow?

    2. How will it be related to the general purpose of your work?

    3. How easy is it for you to relate your Christian faith to your daily work?

    4. How can the congregation pray for you in terms of your daily work and your Christian discipleship there?

  2. Tim, I think that your “this time tomorrow” idea is great – you haven't copyrighted it, have you? We are very good at praying for the more obvious jobs (teachers, nurses, bin men, armed forces) but much less good at praying for business analysts. I will be using your idea in the future (unless you tell me I can't!)

  3. Claire, I got the idea from Ruth Gouldbourne, pastor of Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church in London. I think I might have tweaked it a bit from the model she uses, but it's essentially the same idea. Feel free to use it and change it to make it more useful!

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