Quite a few people have been asking me recently how work is going. So I thought I’d say a little bit about how work is going: Work is going very well, thank you for asking.
I can hardly believe that I’ve been in the job for ten weeks now. In some respects it feels like I only started last week, and in others it feels like I’ve been here for ever. It feels like the most obvious and natural move that I could have made.
I did wonder how it would feel returning to St Andrews to work having been an undergraduate here, but it doesn’t feel weird at all. Apart from the fact that I know where everything is. Almost every other job I’ve had has been marked by the first three months or so of wandering around lost, trying to find out where shops are, or work-related buildings, or whatever. So in that respect it felt like a coming home; oddly.
Which is odd because between the time I left (1993) and I don’t know, maybe a few years ago, I really felt that I’d failed, somehow. That I’d not lived up to the potential that my St Andrews educated expected of me. Which is nonsense, I know, but hey! I was feel all insecure about a whole host of things during that decade. Like failed relationships, and weird part-time jobs, and my dad dying and stuff.
And now this job. And it feels the most natural next step. It’s as though so many of my past experiences and interests and skills have come together at the right time.
Someone said to me recently how sad it was that I’d moved from a parish job to one that saw me stuck in front of a computer screen all day. And yet it’s nothing of the kind. In my first month here I was having about three meetings a day. Meeting people, listening to what they do, who they are, how their job fits into the larger picture of the life of the University, so that we can pull it all together in the end and create the best website that we can for staff, students, parents, alumni, press and Joe Public. This is very much a job with people at the centre of it; this is about person-to-person communication, and it begins with listening.
It’s been interesting adjusting to this new pace of life. Obviously it’s doing me the world of good, what with my blood pressure returning to normal for the first time since about 1997, and my doing weights and going out cycling and not getting ill.
Mind you, I have dumped my old bicycle built from recycled radioactive waste!
I love the boundaries of this 9-5 lifestyle. There is a kind of monastic discipline that I love about it. I love that I can come home in the evening and that’s me off until the next day; no 24-7 on-call; the last time I had that I was working in a homeless hostel in South London, and even with the abuse and assaults I still found that less stressful than aspects of public ministry. I found that always-on-call lifestyle and expectation very stressful; that’s just me. I also love that I work within a geographically-close community; not quite a campus, but not far off.
In so many ways this post works to my strengths and allows me to work to my best abilities. Except in one small respect: I do mornings very well. And I do (late) evenings very well. But I’m not great in the afternoon. But hey! You can’t have everything.
I mean, where would you put it? (with apologies to Steven Wright, for ripping off his gag.)
The transition from full-time ordained clergyman to Assistant Information Architect/Web Manager has been interesting too — from Reverend to Mister, if you like — and at times painful as I adjust to a new role, new expections. It’s funny, I think people find it easier to understand someone who moves from IT into “the Church” than the other way round. The idea of someone moving from “a proper job” into an ordained role has a certain romance about it, but the other direction: is that not just selling out?! (Personally, and predictably, I don’t think so.)
I was encouraged today by a friend who told me that they appreciated that I didn’t shovel religion at people, but that I try to live my life as an example of who Jesus Christ is. Because that’s what it’s about for me. My faith in Jesus, and also my ministry, has something to do with just being with people, and journeying with people (there are plenty of stories in the Bible of God journeying with his people); it’s about relationship with people and God. It’s partly why I blog such personal things, too: a recognition that sometimes what is most personal is also most universal. And so if there is anything that I’m going through that can be some kind of encouragement for someone else going through something similar, then great.
And … erm, that’s a bit about how work is going.