Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Saturday, March 21, 2015

When to quit?

I collect pallets and chop them up and store for winter firewood. 
The Good News

I am a work place chaplain to two workplaces and I do the local St John Ambulance chaplaincy on a voluntary basis. In one of the chaplaincies there are a lot of people retiring. Twenty one years ago I became their chaplain. Back then I was the average age of the workers there. Now I am retired from Church ministry and many of these workers are also retiring. It is a bit sad. I have been with these guys in all sorts of circumstances for twenty one years, it is hard saying goodbye as each one leaves. There are younger ones taking their place, and I wondered if they would accept a chaplain wandering around? In the other paid chaplaincy there have been significant changes, with the workplace becoming more a national corporate identity than a local firm. In my ambulance chaplaincy sometimes it is difficult catching up with people.  Because each place is going through transition I had wondered if it was time for me to retire from chaplaincy?  But then I spent the whole of Friday afternoon in chaplaincy "work" and came home absolutely elated. I had felt accepted, useful and I had really enjoyed my "work".  I felt incredible privilege at being allowed to be part of people's lives. I enjoyed "real" conversations about life. It felt like this was what I am called to do and that I had real skills in this work. Simply I am good at chaplaincy, good at building bridges and establishing rapport.
But .... time to go?
I am chairman of a community group, and the last six months have been challenging, frustrating and complex. I have felt stressed and have put in many hours of voluntary time doing various things. There have been frustrating things happen which have taken me out of my comfort zone, stretched my patience and had me lying awake at nights stewing. My wife gets a bit annoyed with me. I am home in the room with her, but "not present" thinking about issues and uptight. We are retired and life is meant to be easier? I had a text the other day from my son who is building a home in Christchurch. He wondered if I could go up and help him paint the house? We are planning a painting excursion, but my responsibilities with this committee prevent me from spending much time with him. Because of Church ministry my wife and family have for forty years had to play second fiddle to my work, should that be the case in my retirement? Shouldn't I be free to be present for them in retirement? This committee work prevents that. Why am I doing it?  Then at our meeting on Thursday evening we were dealing with a difficult subject. One man expressed an opinion that I had not been fulfilling my responsibilities properly. I did not argue with him, feeling that the process of the discussion would be distracted if we stopped to sort that out. He had disagreed with me on another matter earlier too. As discussion went on I became depressed. Why should I put up with this hassle? I don't have to! I choose to do it! I could just as easily choose not to do it? I slept well that night, but the next day I sent the man an email pointing out my disagreement and he replied with understanding. I respect him immensely and he is deeply committed to the cause and does heaps of work. But that meeting was the "straw that broke the camel's back".  I could quit. I have been involved in this work for over ten years.  Feeling really flat I am of the mind to quit and concentrate my efforts on my chaplaincies. I know what I am doing there. I am in control, good at it and do not have to fit in with other opinions. I could give more attention to my ambulance chaplaincy?  I enjoy making a contribution there. As I have stewed over the last day or so, I feel like it would be good for me to quit.  I will sit with the decision into the new week and see by mid week if I feel the same way and confirm it. I have had enough. It feels like it is time to lighten my load.  Is it time to quit?  Watch this space. 

1 comment:

Linda Myers said...

I had a couple of conflicts last week on volunteer committees where I'm in a position of responsibility but the "decider" is a controller. I get annoyed because I'm giving my time and aptitude to this work and feel unvalued. I talked to a friend and realized that in both cases I had said yes to the work before I asked clarifying questions that would have sorted it out for me. I'll do it different now.