I need to use my imagination today to write about events from the middle of May.
I went off to the Diocesan Clergy Leadership Programme in two minds as to whether it would be an enjoyable experience. It was in Ditchingham in a very pleasant retreat centre, and there were a lot of new people to meet, as well as a few familiar faces. Even after nearly two years here I still don't know that many other vicars, so in that respect alone it was going to be a worthwhile exercise, just making new connections.
The staff running the course were all very good at getting their teaching across, although for me just as there were lots of new people to meet, there was a lot of new teaching to take on board, sometimes 2 or 3 things in one day which was exhausting, but looking back, I think I have been able to let the appropriate stuff sink in, and the stuff that doesn't fit wash away.
Being a church leader has been a funny old game in many ways Not least, in the selection process, our leadership skills are observed and talked about, then we are told that we do have the potential to be selected, then we go and more interviews in which we talk about the same gifts of leadership. Then we get trained up and ordained and start being a leader (albeit a junior one as a curate). By this time in my case at least the stuff that first got me noticed had slipped into the recesses of my self - awareness. This is mostly due to a complete lack( in those days) of any approach to specific leadership training during my theological college course.
When filling out job applications (which even vicars have to do) I became a little more aware of strengths and weaknesses in my character and ministry, so I am able to approach CLP (Clergy Leadership Programme) with a view to fixing some of those things - like my strategic planning and my paperwork systems, both of which were pretty non-existent before CLP.
At this stage, some 2 months on, I wouldn't say I have been able to implement everything as per what was suggested on CLP but at the very least the intention is there. Time is the factor - there just isn't enough of it. I really enjoyed the chance to be out of the parish for a few days and be a bit more objective - thing is you then hit the ground running on your return and I haven't stopped since.
I guess my biggest issue was no one had said to me exactly what leadership actually is. Is it Management? There were certainly lots of patterns and models from industry to support that theme, but the presentations were always done from within the Christian tradition, and it was by no means a secular context - indeed I found the worship to be most refreshing and varied - a real tonic after some previous residentials in a former life!
I am supposed to be having lunch with someone else from the course, to see how things have gone since we came home. Perhaps I will post another few thoughts then.