Welcome to the College of Transfiguration, NPC - a provincial centre for the training of Anglican clergy.

SOCIAL LIFE OF AN ORDAINED PERSON

Thursday, 28 April 2016 

  
Though you have invited me to come and address you on the matter of ‘a social life of an ordained person’. I have decided to broaden the topic to be ‘a social life and lifestyle of an ordained person’. In my presentation I’m going to highlight what I believe we shouldn’t do in the name of having a social life as ordained person, take what works for you from what I share. 
 

Lifestyle 
 
We think at times that our lifestyle doesn't say much, but our lifestyle determines the kind of life we will live and whether we will have a social life. This doesn't start when you are ordained, it starts while you are still here [at COTT]. Here is where you cultivate and shape yourself into who or want you want to be. Amongst numerous things that counts is how one physically appears, that says a lot about who one is. People look at you and they sum up what kind of a person you are. Presence and appearance says a lot about an individual. 

  
Calling 
 
When you ask a Methodist minister, Roman Catholic priest or a Pastor from a Pentecostal Church, they will have a different answer on who is an ordained person. But for me and hopeful for our church, ordination is a sacramental ceremony in which a person becomes first a deacon, then a priest and not all of us but some will be discerned to have a calling to be a bishop. Here a person is set apart to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. When you start to deal with the holy things of God, your life changes. You are no longer as ordinary as you used to be. You are now a person belonging to a certain sect in the life of the church and human race. You are now a mediator of some sort, the one who present the Ten years ago, being a priest was rated amongst the ten most stressful jobs in the world. We have somehow fallen off the radar, and it is not because our ‘job’ has stopped being stressful, but it’s that we have stopped doing the work. We have stopped caring for the people of God. We have stopped what the Americans would term “the first respondent”, this is when we become the first people to be called and sought after when something happens in the lives of our parishioners. When a child has fallen in a ditch, before they call the paramedics and the police, they call a priest. When someone is going to look for a job, they don’t go for a career advisor, they call a priest, what has happened to those moments when everything that could happen under the sun, the priest presence will be sort to comfort and reassure. What has happened and why has our people and the community(s) that we are part of have stopped calling for a priest?  
 

Take care of Self 
 
Many clergy persons are in danger of Spiritual dryness, some of our lifestyles and ministerial life are out of alignment, we are running dry as we are or have over poured one’s cup of wisdom, inspiration and encouragement without ever getting that cup filled. Some of us haven’t been on a retreat, the last one we attend was our pre-ordination retreat, some of us don’t take day offs because if we do, we think the church will fall apart. We don’t go on holiday because we think the parish will love us less and transfer that love to our assistants or whoever was standing in for us. As much as we have over-worked clergy we also have under-worked clergy. 
 
There are those who are too lazy to do anything and those who are stressful because they do everything. We keep on giving and giving. When one has given more than they could, we hear it from the pulpit and it is because one has taken away the privilege that the church has given to rest, revive one's self or finding other things of inspiration. It is important to do something that will take you out of the confines of your work and home life. Take time to get out and get away. If you don’t, you will have your cup empty and you won’t realise until you collapse or until a meeting has been called to say, “He or she has to go now!” 
 
When a clergy person fails to have a life outside of their professional life, they run a risk or danger of becoming addicted to substances and/or compulsive behaviour in order to escape from their intolerable burden. We have clergy who are addicted to alcohol, smoking and pain killers. They are always in some sort of pain and they take it to numb themselves. There is a danger of losing one’s own faith, and this is called the occupational hazard of clergy. The lives of clergy are characterised by the slit between the head and the heart, public and private lives, professional and personal. Some clergy feel they are more clergy when they have their collar on. When they get offended they even say, "I will take this collar off and you will see the man/woman in me". We live in a world where we would like to split our lives. Some separate their social life and priestly life, but your whole being and your lifestyle is that of an ordained person. It is important to assess the situations that one gets themselves into, and be aware of what to do and what not do. You need to know when it is the right time or not the right time to do certain social activities with those in your pastoral charge.  
 

Social life 
 
Make a rule in your life that when you socialise with some of your friends who are parishioners that, when they begin to talk [gossip] about other parishioners, you stop them, or leave them saying, "I'm no longer going to be part of this conversation or gathering". When you are an assistant in the parish, at times when on pastoral visits (in not all of the visits) you will hear how wonderful and amazing you are and how your rector is this and that, be careful because when you become rector they will do the same to you. The discernment does not stop. We discern everything. There will always be an implication on what we say and do. If you want to be "Bra Moruti", "Bra Mfundisi" or "Bra Mrev", you can go on with it, it’s up to you, but respect can be lost when "Bra" is put before the office you hold. Don’t ask for alcohol as a payment for sacramental ceremonies that by right you’re called to officiate and preside over. 

  
Impressions and perceptions 
 
Social life and lifestyle of an ordained person consist of impression and perception. One needs to be careful of the impression that we give and the perceptions that people have about us. Discern the kind of people you want to be part of. In socialising, be careful of the clicks even amongst the clergy, some groups that are created become destructive. 
 
We need to look after our bodies, we are good in telling others that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit while we are found wanting when it comes to taking care of this our own temple. Alienation from one’s own body has a close parallel to being out of touch with one's own feelings. Our bodies need food as the fuel to keep them running, not to create havoc by over-feeding our bodies and medicating with substances. Some are already on chronic medication, we need to look after ourselves.  
 
Balance your life: study, work, pray and recreation. Make time for family life. Reward yourself, it is always good to have little treats here and there. After God completed the work of creating creation…God look at what God has just created and said it is good. We are part of what is good and we should enjoy the goodness of God.  
 
 
Revd Canon Dr Vicentia Kgabe
Rector


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