There has been a recurrent theme in my conversations over the last few weeks. People seem to be constanly beginning emails or conversations with ‘I know you’re busy …’
This is some sort of kindness, of course. People are aware of not wanting to over burden me, and they are mindful that my colleague pastor is now on sabbatical and will be moving on from the church afterwards.
And yes, there are many things that try to crawl unrepentant across my desk each week: tasks, meetings, conversations, all of that. There is the consitently regular appearance of ‘Sunday’, leadership teams, other team meetings, external connections and everything else in between. There are pastoral visits, coffees, phonecalls and more.
But, there is always space. I’ve been at this game too long to know that it doesn’t work without space. Lots of times you have to pencil the space in and cling to it like you would to a rock in a storm. Would you want to be pastored by someone who doesn’t pray, doesn’t rest, doesn’t read, doesn’t learn, doesn’t keep in touch with ‘real life’, doesn’t laugh and doesn’t have time for his family? No, me neither. (But I’d like to see more of my family now and then!)
There is always space for people. Tasks are moved aside for people. For me, there also needs to be space for being in the wider community, passing the time of day with people in the coffee shop or in the queue at the post office. This is a consistently helpful exercise that keeps church and context together.
I need space between encounters with people. Space between some tasks. Space to process, pray, reflect. I need space to think ahead strategically and missionally. Space to remain saturated in the words and message of the Bible. Space for family, rest, sabbath and recreation. And because I need it, I seek to build it in. Time and tasks aren’t rigid, there are ebbs and flows, but things find their place. There is stuff to do, but there is space.
The space, you see, also form the needful boundaries and borders. The boundaries are the things which stop me getting lost in people, tasks, work, deadlines, situations and challenges. They’re the bits that help me remember me and connect with those I love. They’re the life I live when I’m not the pastor.
So, right now, I’m off to make some space.