Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On becoming a PT and leaves of absence

As you all probably know, PT is an abbreviation for Personal Trainer. I mention that because I know that all too often we get used to using language specific to certain environments and cultures that doesn't translate easily for people outside that community. Hmmm. Remind you of any particular community like the church for example?

Anyway, I finessed my level 3 PT course yesterday and am emerging back into the normal world of not getting up at 5:30 and not spending my whole day in a gym. It's been an interesting experience to say the least.

Now just to be absolutely clear again, this is not a career change. I have not left the ministry as many seem to think. What I am doing is exploring pathways that will allow me to be self-supporting while serving the mission of God. If someone came along and offered to cover the costs of a basic stipend I wouldn't say no, but I think I'd do it on the understanding that I would continue to pursue my studies while seeking to learn how to be missional in my community. Not because I like to be awkward, but because I think there is a need to find new ways of expressing leadership without having to add more and more paid staff to an organisation. I do not believe that the mission of God is a business that needs to be managed. It is an adventure that needs to be explored.

Because I am no longer in pastoral charge of a church or in some other form of denominationally recognised ministry, I have to take a leave of absence. I understand this, but it rankles with me. For the last four weeks I've spent my day with a great bunch of people who wouldn't normally cross my path or me theirs. We've sat together, learnt together, exercised and stretched together. We've laughed and shared stories, measured each others body fat, and debated the use of supplements (generally speaking, don't waste you money, just buy better quality food!)

Throughout all that time I've tried as best I can to not be overzealous and preach but rather simply be there amongst them answering whatever questions someone has for me, and there have been a few. I feel more engaged in real ministry even though I feel totally inadequate for the task. If that's what leaving the ministry means, then I'm glad I've left, although of course I haven't!

Time to leave that one alone I think. I must write to the ministry department in the next week or so and share my thoughts with them. I'm sure they understand more than we credit them, but the no-man's land feeling doesn't help.

Back to PT-ing. I'll write another blog post about how learning about exercise has helped me reflect on discipleship. Perhaps Paul was onto a good illustration when he talked about athletes preparing themselves. Perhaps we need functional discipleship in the same way we need functional fitness!

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