Book Offers Clergy An Antidote To The Pace Of Modern Life
One of our own priests,The Reverend Canon Dr Stephen Cherry is about to launch a book aimed at helping clergy cope with their ever-growing workload.
The book by Stephen who is a Residentiary Canon based at Durham Cathedral, and who as Director of Ministerial Development and Parish Support leads the Diocesan Resource Team, is called Beyond Busyness and is packed with time management tips for vicars and curates.
Stephen said: “The clergy today have much bigger jobs than their predecessors, often in the form of having to take care of multiple parishes or simply ever larger ones. Today’s clergy are, therefore, probably the first generation of those who feel that there really isn’t enough time to do all that needs to be done.
Beyond Busyness recognises the reality of this pressure but also appreciates that time management courses and programmes do not usually hit the spot as far as clergy are concerned.
The book is a health guide. I am mindful of the high price which long hours and unstructured days can have on clergy. It can eat into their health and morale, fuelling the dreaded burnout.”
He began to reflect on this problem when, after twenty years of experience in parish ministry and as a college chaplain, he was appointed a Director of Ministry at Durham with a seemingly impossible portfolio. In danger of being overwhelmed, he looked around to see that many other clergy were in the same boat and tried to find some solutions.
He said: “My quest to understand and solve the problem of time for people in ministry has been a fascinating one.
A key turning point in the journey was when I realised that for clergy, time is a spiritual as much as a practical issue. That led me to think in terms not of ‘time management’ but ‘time wisdom’ and to seek to mix traditional advice with spiritual insights.“
Beyond Busyness is based on 28 short sessions which readers are invited to ready daily or weekly, alone or with others.
The Revd Keith Griffin, Team Vicar, Holy Trinity Holmfirth in the Diocese of Wakefield said: “Part of the genius of the approach taken here is the short two-page chapters – called sessions – but don’t be fooled, each packs a powerful punch.”
Stephen said: “The tone is honest but light-hearted and positive. There are some laughs along the way in learning time wisdom as well as maybe the odd tear when people realise that they really can’t do everything everyone expects.“
By the time people have worked through the book they will have developed the confidence needed to get a grip on their diaries and to find ways of being both disciplined in their use of time and also responsive and flexible in the face of ever changing pastoral demands.
Stephen said: “The workaholic control-freak within should certainly be tamed by working through the programme. Life will feel more balanced and in 99% of cases ministry more effective. There are some very negative consequences for everyone is the vicar is always busy and displaying ‘White Rabbit Behaviour’.”
Sally Milner, Chaplain at the Northumberland Church of England Academy in Ashington said: “This book has transformed my life and very much for the better. The two-column “To Do” and “May Do” list is a revelation that has freed up much productive time. I was already an avid fan of the list but that second column is marvellous."
Picture By: Keith Blundy / Aegies Associates
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