artsyhonker: a girl with glasses and purple shoulder-length hair (Default)
This is a bit train-of-thought so it is going here rather than on my proper blog. There may well be a part II and a part III at some stage, because I would like to explore both the the wider societal implications of overwork, and ways of holding the centre and refusing that paradigm while stuck in a bureaucracy that is currently pretty wedded to it, but doing so in the same post as all this practical stuff is too long.

There was a conversation on Twitter last night of how many hours per week full-time stipendiary clergy should work, and how that matches the expectations parishioners have.

Clergy do face unique challenges, and I don't for a moment wish to imply otherwise. But this is a wider problem than just one faced by clergy. As a freelance musician I deal with some similar issues. Nobody really expects me to be pastorally available, and there isn't the same sense of responsibility to one community, but those are the main differences.

Here are some of the challenges from my perspective:
challenges )
I think the above will all sound very familiar to clergy and to other people who manage most of their own time.

I spent a few years keeping most of Orthodox Jewish law, and that included strict adherence to Sabbath. It was wonderful. And it has provided me with a strong sense of the value of rest, and of making a proper day off into a "hard" commitment. It gave me endless practice at saying "I'm sorry, I have another commitment then, could we do Sunday or Monday?" to people who wanted me to do things on Friday night or Saturday. It gave me the experience of being told things had to happen Right Now Or Else and finding that, no, most things can wait a day. It allowed me to see that "doing it all" is part of the same idolatry as "having it all" -- one I still struggle with, to be sure, as do many in our society, but at least I am aware of it.

There is no amount of work that I can do that will make me a "better" person. This isn't about needing to rest in order to do more, although that dynamic is also important. This is about knowing that if something doesn't get done, it doesn't get done… and that's OK. I don't have to have the perfect career or a perfectly-kept house. What I can do in six days is enough.

What this means, in practical terms, for me now is this:
practical responses )

I think some of what makes all this difficult is the background capitalist assumption that work only counts if you get paid for it. Where clergy often run into trouble is with the commonly-held notion that they are paid to be available to their parishioners at all times and in all places -- clearly impossible even in a tiny parish like St Andrew's, with roughly 3600 people in it, let alone a more typical urban parish of 16000 or so souls.

More later -- busy day ahead in which I am triple-booked at one point. Joy!

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