went away for the last 24 or so hours with those who are being ordained along with me on November 6th. It was a great time, they’re a fun bunch.
Since we had several times of reflection, I thought I’d record some of my thoughts in those times. Particularly significant for me was the chance to reflect back on the journey of the past four or so years and the events, people, and decisions that have shaped me over that time.
One of the earliest memories I have of this process was having my psychological profile taken by the BUV psychologist. It was the Californian psychological index, and had something like 630 questions, and then an hour’s interview. I remember the test vividly, but even more I remember getting the results. I was devastated by what came back. I was completely convinced that was the end of that pathway for me: that no way would they ever let anyone with a psych profile like that become a pastor. Not because I was a psychopath or anything, just because it said things like, “Simon (or those who tested with scores similar to Simon) is more likely to be a follower than a leader,” or, “Simon prefers to be alone than with people”, etc, etc. I remember being adamant that most of it was not true, that it didn’t reflect me at all; yet when I went back and re-read it recently, it’s all pretty accurate. They let me through anyway – in fact, reading it now, it’s really not that bad, but I remember at the time just feeling like that was it, that this would destroy any chance of going down that pathway. So that was one memory.
People like Frank Rees have been so instrumental in my formation as a minister and as a person. He has consistently challenged me to go beyond what I want to do, has pushed my buttons at times, but I’ve always appreciated it (usually only in hindsight, but still). He’s not only brought out the best in me, but he’s been responsible for most, if not all, of the significant theological insights I’ve had at Whitley.
Another was the whole process that ended with us being at Whitley. I don’t entirely remember the order of events, but I do remember that simultaneous to Julie and I feeling dissatisfied with our middle class, house-in-the-suburbs life, it was suggested by Frank Rees that we consider going to Whitley as residential tutors. Around the same time, Simon and Brenda (who had earlier visited us and decided not to ask because they thought we’d never leave such a lovely situation) also asked us to come as residential tutors, a position that morphed into the chaplaincy. It’s fascinating to me now because all the events conspired to make the choice so easy, even though it was a hard decision in terms of giving up so much in terms of space, lifestyle, etc. But it was still the best life choice we’ve made, and it will have lifelong consequences (including setting up what I’m doing for the foreseeable future).
An argument with Daniel, a friend of mine, over how negative I was at the time, was also significant. That culminated in an incredibly significant experience of having a thought that was not my own pop into my head after some heated prayer time. “I am the God who made you” was the phrase, and I’ve never forgotten it.
Even the whole conversation/argument I had with my grandma which culminated in her snapping “Well if that’s what you think, why don’t you just go and be a minister, then?” is given new meaning in looking back.
It hasn’t all been easy: my depression was a tough time, especially while we were away in Cairns which I should’ve enjoyed, but couldn’t. We’ve barely made it financially most of the time, we’ve had our car broken into several times at Whitley, and I broke my leg as well. We had the time at Mentone that was so significant in shaping me as a leader, and yet involved some of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make. So many events, too many to talk about here, that have brought me to this point, and so many that are yet to happen. But I’m grateful, profoundly grateful, for all of them, and think I can honestly say that I don’t regret any of it. All of it has shaped me to where I am today. And for the moment, that’s a very good place.
So while I couldn’t have honestly said it before the retreat, I’m looking forward to November 6 now. Bring it on.