Monday, 18 January 2010

What is work? And how much should a Vicar do?

Talk to many clergy and you will hear comments like "what private life", or in the worst cases boasting of how many hours a week they work (the best example I heard of this was counting time in the gym, even though they didn't talk to anyone, because they might have done).  Our Diocesan Bishop, John Pritchard, wrote, in "The Life and Work of a Priest", that he thought that priests should work 50 hours a week - equating it to a "normal" job plus the time that a layperson would give voluntarily.

Having given a significant amount of time voluntarily as I trained whilst working full time, my reaction was that the time that I gave was different from work - the old saying "a change is as good as a rest" comes to mind.  To be fair he also suggests that we should look for a "6th day ministry" - doing something that energises us outside the parish, so perhaps the balance is restored.  However, another book ("If you meet George Herbert on the Road...") refers to the Bishop's book as "The Life and nervous break down of a priest".

During training we were offered two models for working - one was to divide the day into 3 and work 2 of them - the other to divide it into 5 and work 4 - we weren't told how long these should be, but I have figured that 2x4hours or 4x2hours are both 6x8 hour days = 48 hours - conveniently the European Working Time Directive restricts working to a 48 hour week which was also pointed out to us - although of course as Office Holders we are not subject to it.

So - having worked out how many hours - what is work!  That might seem a simple question, but many clergy I have spoken with have difficulty working this one out.  One curate of my acquaintance has even been heard to say "that's not work, I enjoy it".  And of course there is the whole question of being versus doing - we are priests all the time - whether in a full time or part time role, whether paid or unpaid.  So what do you think?  Are any or all of the following work?
  • Private prayer
  • Time vegging after a funeral
  • Reading news, books, blogs
  • Talking to friends about things which would be work if they were parishioners
  • Networking with fellow clergy
  • Watching films - I once got a sermon illustration from Home Alone 2, and Avatar had spiritual themes
  • Writing books - not that I have pretensions, but plenty of clergy (particularly Bishops) are also authors
Perhaps the key is to remember Bishop Stephen reminding us that we are paid not to work!

    1 comment:

    1. I guess my first question is why are you asking?
      I don't really believe there are 'one size fits all' answers.. hence if someone is asking the question it suggests that they are not happy with the level of work because they are stressed or because they feel guilty because they are not stressed?



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