29.3.09

Leadership and perceptions

I'm always interested in what is going on in the life of Jacqui Smith because she was my teacher for A Level Economics. At that time she was running for local leadership in Redditch which meant that as students we didn't quite finish the whole curriculum and nobody in our class got above a C level, even though there were a couple of really bright kids (at Economics) in the class (I wasn't one of them).

She raises interesting questions for me about 'leadership'. Her life is constantly under the microscope. She is now in trouble for her husband having watched a couple of films and then charging them to expenses 'by accident'.

I had a conversation today with someone at church who told me, that in many ways, life as a clergy-person is not your own and I understand that theologically it isn't because your life belongs to and is 'in Christ' and also belongs, to an extent, to the people whom you serve, but I wonder how much paranoia might accompany such a life. Are clergy people scrutinised? Are their lives inspected under microscopes? Of course, the Bible tells us that a church leader must be

...someone who is above reproach, faithful to their spouse, with children who are believers that cannot be accused of being wild or disrespectful...not self-centered, short-fused, given to addictions, violent, or unethical. Instead, they should be hospitable, seeking the good, sensible, fair, pure, and self-controlled...(Titus 1:6-9)

So what sorts of things should one worry about - is it just the above, which is a lot anyway or are there other things too? For example, one of my husband's best friends drives a beautiful red farrari. If he picks him up in it when (if) I work for the church as a curate, would it be a stumbling-block for other people, who might judge us for having a wealthy friend?

Should I choose a particular type of car to drive, avoiding certain badges (I'm not about to buy a sports car, I hasten to add)?

What about if you bought 'Emporio Armani' Jeans (not from Harvey Nics but from Oxfam) and wore them, would it be assumed that you had sold your soul to materialism?

Holiday destinations? Restaurants? Clothes? Hair-styles? Make-up? Shoes? I could go on mentioning many of those things which are shallow and empty of meaning but which the world rates. What if over the years you have collected some of these things too, not out of a deliberate questing after them but just because the safe and sensible car is also a nicely-branded car and it would actually cost you more money now to replace it with a 'less of status symbol type' car?

So what happens to all the worldly stuff?

A Christian life is a distinct life. We don't value the same things as the world but we also live in the world and we drive around it and live in houses and clothe ourselves etc.

I'm starting to become more and more conscious of the ways that we are all perceived and I am realising that there is nothing that I want to do to misrepresent the life of a Christian. We carry a huge burden here but if it means asking my husband's best-friend to park a few streets away, that's not right either.

You know, it took me a while to talk to the Ferrari-driver, even though we stood next to each other most days in the same queue. His car had become a stumbling block and I didn't at first want him to think that I was only talking to him because I was after something so I know we all make these judgments but I got over it, realising that barriers to friendship should be overcome, whatever they are, but I'm still aware it delayed friendship and that I had built up ideas about this family because of their car which turned out to be very untrue.

How much more am I going to have to think about everything I do? I suspect I will need to deeply consider everything and I probably should and I already do, thinking about what does and what does not bring glory to Jesus but as a minister can we really resist thinking about these things even more and is that right and will it be quite exhausting?

2 comments:

Judith Schultz said...

just a short comment - one of my husband's parishioners drives a very expensive car and now is a CE for a charity BUT he is loved and respected for who he is in Christ irrespective of what he owns or wears. People soon spot what is not a genuine article.

BTW really enjoyed reading your blog and am now a follower!! Judith

Rachel said...

Hi Judith
Good to meet you - in cyberspace :)
Keep dropping in and thank you for your contribution.

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