I guess for many people there is a bit of a mystery as to what a vicar actually does. As in many other professions, people tend to see only the stuff that is done up front. The old joke about vicars working only on Sundays comes from this popular misconception. But of course there’s a lot more to a vicar’s week than simply taking services and preparing for them, just as there is far more to a teacher’s life than delivering lessons or a doctor’s than seeing patients.
Of course what makes the life of a vicar different is that he (or she!) is not directly employed by a company or an organisation, although there are responsibilities to the wider diocese and there are now requirements for in-service training. So to a lesser or greater extent your week is what you choose to make it.
For me, I aim as far as possible to spend the morning in the study. This is the time of day when I think most creatively, and nearly every week I have to write a sermon and prepare for a small group. Also I am the primary point of contact for most enquirers so there are phone calls and e-mails to deal with, meetings to arrange and diaries to be co-ordinated. In larger churches a vicar would have a secretary or a PA, but here I have to deal with most of the administration. I am fortunate, however, to have Lynda to produce the publicity and communications, and we find that increasingly people make contact with the church through the website and Facebook.
In the afternoon I aim to visit, or meet with other ministers, or bring Home Communions. On a Tuesday afternoon Contact down at St Barnabas is a fairly fixed point, and as far as possible Evening Prayer at St Michael’s provides an anchor to the week on other days. Then after tea it’s either time for visiting and meetings, or taking the Bible Explored groups. Although our Bible Explored groups are small, they are becoming an ever more important part of our church life as people learn to share their faith and their lives.
The challenge in all of this is to keep a fresh vision of what the Lord is doing, and to remain rooted in prayer and Scripture. As was said at the diocesan training course this week, “The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him” (Oswald Chambers). And of course this is something that is true for all of us, no matter what role we play. While I like to be busy, it’s good to be reminded the Lord is more interested in how much I love Him, rather than how full is my diary!