When I was younger.... and before I was a minister...
I worked in retail
I loved talking to my customers, getting to know them, helping them choose things they loved, and generaly following thier story.
My retail job was as manager of a small childrenswear and nursery goods shop.
So many of the journeys I followed included helping expectant parents choose equipment, and watching as they turned into new parents - it was fun and for the most part totally joyful
Twice per year in the autumn and the spring we had a stock take - just before the new season's stock was delivered
It was a time for me as the manager and buyer to work out what had sold well, what staples were no longer in high demand, what would work better... lists, upon lists, upon lists. Because this would inform my buying for the next season, and give me an inkling of new lines to introduce.
I kept a book which I got the staff to use, so every time they got asked for something we didn't have they would enter it - really good way of seeing new trends develop.
Sometimes, I was forced to admit I'd got it wrong - somemthing I'd bought was still hanging around; and even after it was discounted still wasn't selling... so it was time to review, renew and restart
This past week I have been doing a little stock taking of a different sort; having returned home from holiday rested and relaxed and choked with the cold, I finally admitted this week that two weeks was long enough and took a visit to the doctor who informed me I was an infection risk, and should sign myself off for the week to recuperate.
One of the comments to my facebook update was along the lines of - why do we wait so long to admit when we are under par, unwell, in need of a stock take?
Being in ministry compares with being in retail; we meet people, get to know them, listen to their stories and try to supply them with what they want or need. Not clothes and buggies any more; but something of God's light; the Spirit's inspiring and the love and compassion of Jesus
In ministry we have seasons, summer is the time to kick back - meetings are fewer and the routines change, so we can pick up some of the stuff that has got put on the back burner, it's time to catch up on visits, do a little (or a lot) of filing, plan some future events and things you hope people will like. I no longer have a suggestion box - but I do get requests for particular things - time for reflection, mid-week worship, explanations of faith and life... all good and exciting propositions. Thus for autumn I offered some new ventures - church open for quiet and reflection; mid-week worship and a course to explore faith & life issues.
It's too early to say whether these things will work or be successful... though the Faith Exploration Course has stopped - no one came!! Awaiting feedback on that - time to do a little stock take.
And the first evening service had to be led by someone else as I am not well - but was well attended and well received - a blessing to others indeed
As for me.
how do I take stock?
What do I need for me?
Something to feed my intellect; something to challenge me and take me out of my comfort zone
Something to take me to new depths or heights - on my journey
I have plans afoot that take me right into 2015 - 2015!!!
And a new venture as a student, which I have been in two minds about for the past six months - but, spending a week taking stock has given me new clarity on that one! So, in approximately three weeks time - Glasgow University here I come!!