Shown the door


Doors closing or opening?

I’m not paranoid, I know people are watching my every move.

As you try to discern if God is calling you to be ordained it can feel as the Church is watching and analysing your every move: CCTV cameras trained on you, hidden cameras in place to catch you unaware, spies and informers reporting back to headquarters. Of course that is nonsense, there is no need for the church to watch or inform you because you will be informing on yourself, and willingly so.

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One Foot in the Graveyard


Moving age-groups not houses

Shortly after finally making contact with the DDO (see Communication Breakdown) I attended a workshop for those on the discernment path. I had been to several before, including one a year ago which covered the topic this was to cover: the dreaded and artificial BAP Pastoral Letter Exercise. Back then I had spoken to the other candidates not just about what it was like to go to a BAP but what it was like to be rejected, or not recommended as the Church of England like us to call it. Giving the talk had left me unable to focus on the Pastoral Letter Exercise so a second opportunity to do so in the company of others, and with the insight of the DDO and a particularly caring and constructive BAP Advisor, was to be welcomed.

The time I had spent over the past year picking the brains of those with good pastoral experience and skills, coupled with the thoughts of others present on the day, meant that I finally felt I understood what BAP Advisors expected to see in a candidates response. Even more encouragingly I felt like I might be able to write one that would at the very least be acceptable and not spat out like a rancid piece of food. That was just as well for the DDO dropped a bombshell into the conversations that shook several of us to the core.  There was no sugar-coating of the pill, there was just the bare facts: the funding and training pathways for ordination had changed. 

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T minus 3 weeks

Will my application be accepted?

Will my application be accepted?

The date is getting closer.  So much to do, such little time. Or is there?

As I continue my preparations for attending a Bishops’ Advisory Panel (BAP) there I the list of things I want and need to do beforehand at times feels impossible to achieve.  Yet I also feel a the sense of peace and excitement I feel as I pass through each day is palpable.

There isn’t just the BAP to prepare for, there is life away from it which continues regardless and needs time and attention.  I have my day-job, my role as a school governor, a house to sell and of course my children and wife to attend to and spend time with.  Such things keep me grounded and from becoming tunnel visioned and obsessed by all things ordination.
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Taking Stock – Part 2: The Vocations Chaplain Experience

Patiently waiting to move on

Patiently waiting to move on

In this the second of a two part post I am looking at my experience of meeting with a Vocations Chaplain, having looked at the preceding stages in Part 1.

In the Anglican Diocese I find myself living within those exploring ordination are asked to first meet with their vicar before meeting with a Vocations Chaplain if the vicar feels there is a reason to explore.

As with the vicar and those met at later stages, the Vocations Chaplain (different titles are used for such people, even within a single diocese) is tasked with the job of discerning whether God is indeed calling a person towards ordination. This may take several meetings but if a calling is sensed the person is passed onto a Diocesan Director of Ordinands, or DDO for short. The process continues along similar lines before a person meets with a local bishop and a Bishops Advisory Panel (often simply known as a BAP). Continue reading

Taking Stock – Part 1: The first steps on the road towards ordination

The road is long, with many a winding turn…

I met with a Vocations Chaplain for a second time last week so that he could affirm or quash my sense of calling.  As it also turned out to be our final meeting, and the start of a new stage on the exploration of ordination, it seems a good time to take stock of my experience so far.

In this, the first of a two-part blog I’ll document what steps I took before formalising the process and getting the wider church leaders involved.  Hopefully they will be helpful, especially if you are exploring a calling too.  The second part will look at my experience with the Vocations Chaplain. Continue reading

Take me to your Leader

When I met with a Vocations Chaplain a few weeks ago (see Can I see clearly now?) I was  encouraged by his confidence that I was being called by God to be on this journey that may lead to ordination.  He left me with 3 issues to ponder ahead of meeting him for a second time this week.

It took me a week to simply take in and comprehend what had happened during the meeting but then I began to look at each issue, one at a time.  In my post Who is He? I looked at the image of God that I carry with me.  His second topic, the ‘sin of the helper’, was more challenging but certainly helpful to consider (see Is it ever wrong to help someone?).  Now it is time to look at the final topic of what leadership means.

The Toy Story aliens

The Toy Story aliens

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Is it ever wrong to help someone?

The Beatles album Help!

Help! I need somebody, not just anybody.

My Vocations Chaplain left me with a few things to think about after our first meeting. I looked at the first of them, my image of God, in Who is He? Now it’s time to consider the second, the sin of the helper.

I admit, it sounds rather heavy but as he explained it to me it intrigued me.

A starting point for me in consciously exploring ordination was being prepared to be a vicar if that is what God is asking me to do. Vicars play a wide range of different roles: leader, preacher, teacher, pastor, encourager, reconciler, manager and administrator to name but a few. One thing that is central to them all is that of a helper.

Vicars help us to connect with God. They help people and communities to overcome obstacles, tough times, and grief. They help people to understand God’s love. They help.

The phrase ‘the sin of the helper’ raises plenty of questions, most obviously is it ever wrong to help?

Perhaps the question should not be whether it is ever wrong to help someone. Perhaps the ‘sin’ of the helper is found in why you want to help.

The reason behind being asked to consider the phrase was around my identity and source of self-worth. The reason behind wanting to help reveals much about ourselves. Do I get my feeling of being valued, even needed, from helping people? Is my motivation in helping people one of seeking to assist them in anyway I can or is it to make me feel good, needed and important?

Does it actually matter if I’m helping to make myself feel good? After all, if someone benefits from my help does my reason for helping matter?

Our motivation shows where our heart is and where we find our security. If we find it in worldly things we are more likely to be disappointed or hurt when our efforts are rejected, abused, or not even recognised. If we are secure in ourselves and find our motivation in honouring God in what we do, any negative consequences we might face can be easier to cope with.

Loving ourselves as God loves us is, I believe, fundamental to ensuring our motivation in helping others is healthy and fruitful.

There have been times in the past when I didn’t like myself. There were the dark days when I couldn’t accept that I was of value to anyone, and it took time for that to change. God was instrumental in that change and I grew to see how He loved me, not only through Jesus’s atoning sacrifice. I began to understand that I was a valued person, with much to offer God and the world.

I found my source of security in God, not in others. It was then that I could be effective in serving people, my motivation was not to feel needed. It was also when I was ready to be in a relationship and not place a burden of dependency on another person, the saviour-syndrome as I like to call it.

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

Have you ever stopped and analysed your emotions when you are the helper? When do you feel best: in the act of helping, the giving phase; or in the praise and thanks you may get after helping, the receiving phase?

I didn’t include the scripture to condemn or suggest that there is only one answer, but as a challenge. You may be like me, someone who finds it easier to give or to help than to receive or be helped. My fear of an overinflated ego sometimes stops me from giving adequate thanks to a compliment and reflecting on it.

A loving friend once challenged me, helpfully pointing out that if everyone only helped or gave we would reach a stalemate and no one would be able to receive. There is also the flip-side to being helped, by being blessed we often bless the helper. I’m not the only one to have noticed that after helping you can feel as though you have been given much more back than you have given.

Helping in order to be blessed though is different and, for me, is the sin of the helper. I would be fooling myself and you if I didn’t acknowledge that failing to have your efforts recognised doesn’t hurt. It may simply be that we are not there to our efforts bearing fruit in that person’s life. From that perspective, the blessings that I do receive when I help are an added bonus, they are not what I seek in helping, they are not my motivation.

I love helping people. I love to see someone smile when they realise that they can do something, when it clicks and they understand something new. I love it when they realise their potential.

Releasing potential is a passion that I find burning increasingly brightly inside of me as I explore God’s calling on my life. It seems as if the place God is calling me to release that potential from is in ordained ministry. But of course I could be wrong!

  • Day 31 (
  • Motives (

Who is He?

Think of God, picture Him in your mind. What do you see? What do you feel? Do you know why?

The picture of God we carry with us is likely to have been formed by our own past, our experiences and how we have come to know God. The image of God we carry with ourselves may well be quite different from other people’s. My Vocations Chaplain has asked me to think the image I carry and about who God is to me.

I grew up an agnostic. I always felt that coincidence and chance alone could not explain the existence of the world. Yet I couldn’t accept a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis that says the world was created in 6 days, and not only because of the apparent conflict with the existence of dinosaurs. Then there was the Big Bang Theory, way before it moved from a hypothesis to a replacement for Friends – something can’t come from nothing so something must have existed before the Big Bang. Continue reading

Can I see clearly now?

Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

Luke 9:44-46

Last week I met with a Vocations Chaplain as part of my exploration of whether God is calling me to be ordained as a priest in the Church of England.  In my previous post (“Who I am I today?“) I wrote of the challenge I felt to not pretend to be the person I thought the Vocations Chaplain would want to see, but to be true to myself.

During my meeting I came to the realisation that my life has had, in one respect at least, something in common with Jesus’s disciples.  Just as the true meaning of things Jesus said or did was kept from the disciples, it seems that I may have been prevented from seeing and understanding certain things until now.

Let me explain! Continue reading

Who am I today?

When a time comes that you, your personality and everything you say are under intense scrutiny do you show your true self or put a mask on and be someone else? If that person has the potential to alter the path you take in life do you try to be the person you think they will want to see, or do you trust that the right thing will happen when they see who you really are?

We’ve all been there, first dates, job interviews, important meetings, etc. We take extra care about the clothes we wear, we get there early, we are keen to impress. But in our nervousness to impress we can make mistakes and it can go horribly wrong. Continue reading