Patrons and stuff

imageA patron. In the Church of England, the one who gets to give the prospective incumbent the once over and decide whether or not to present them to the Bishop. Or today, one who patronises.

I don’t know what it is about the sight of a lone fairly middle-aged woman eating lunch that impels people to come and sit next to her. It might be friendliness, kindness, a desire to be neighbourly. Let’s assume so. When you ask her what she’s doing in the college, if she replies “Hiding in the library with some books”, it’s a fair bet she’s studying. So try not replying “Self guided reading? Marvellous!”

When she politely (if surprisingly tersely) asks, “And you?”, my recommendation is that you don’t explain the basic management technique you have just been taught, because you never know, she might hold a Masters in Business Administration, and be way ahead of you on that front. Equally, try not to add how useful the technique will be in managing ‘you lovely people in congregations’, because she isn’t in your congregation. The noise you can hear is her grinding her teeth. And when she asks a rather detailed question about the finer point of applying what you have just been talking about in your parishes, beware. She might listen carefully to your answer, then gently, clearly, and inexorably, give you a case study from her “secular career”.

If you then raise your eyebrows, and enquire if she is an NSM, be prepared for the possibility that she is a full time incumbent, currently studying for her doctorate, which she thinks will be a useful addition to her first and second degrees. When she politely explains this, try not to make a noise like a strangled cat.

Of course, you don’t need to worry, because you never make assumptions. Do you?

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8 responses to “Patrons and stuff

  1. Now you’re making me nervous that if I were to sit alongside a nearly-mildlle-aged woman it would be regarded as patronising her, rather than a friendly act, not wishing someone being on their own?

    But the conversation might not be about what are you doing here, it’s more likely to be about the weather, the loveliness of the surroundings and the interesting people alongside you both – Gladstone Library being one of those aspirational places that I’d like to visit, but so far, haven’t been able to do so.

    As for making assumptions, we all do, the description I used of nearly-middle-aged is an assumption, you might be older (well preserved) or younger (not so well preserved) but it’s probably not something that I’d be eager to comment on.

    I’d be more than happy to discuss the niceties of sermons etc, but I wouldn’t raise the subject myself and I’d not be brave enough to preach at someone with a dog collar or without one, on how they could use their skills to improve their ministry. I much rather hear about the lovely people who work to support that ministry, they after all being those helping to build the Kingdom in the place that you are.

    I wonder if there some people who have an inbuilt gene to patronise others, I’ve met my fair share in my time and biting your tongue a lot makes it quite sore, but perhaps better than the alternative violent oral rejection of the patroniser. Pray for them instead 🙂

    • This wasn’t at Gladstone’s Library, Ernie. GL is a place where I find acceptance and genuine interest, where people work together to find the connections and learning points even over casual coffee. If I sit on my own in their dining room, people ask before they sit!
      But I really wouldn’t worry if I were you. You aren’t like the character in the blog 🙂

  2. Of course, I could sit next to such a hypothetical young woman at lunchtime and simply ask, “Have you found Jesus?” 😉
    Sorry that you are still the butt of so many inaccurate & demeaning assumptions.

  3. Pingback: Patronage from the other side | Rev'd Claire·

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