Ian has been talking a lot about work/life balance and has had some responses back. I'm someone who used to be VERY bad at taking time out, partly because I love what I do, partly because there is ALWAYS plenty a youthworker can do and partly because, being single, I sometimes have evenings with nothing particular to do and end up working. However I am much better now. I still work too many hours but I try to ensure that more of the work I do is towards my personal development (and I'm not just saying this because I have a review tomorrow eeeek!).
Intriguingly this is something that I learnt in my former career (which is one people often consider a bit ODD for a youth worker). I used to be a lecturer in History and Latin. People think that this was a whacky change but I have brought a lot from my former role to my youth work.
One of the founding principles of university work is that ALL teaching staff are active learners. All those who encourage and instruct students are themselves students of something. This is why university staff get such LONG "vacations". What this means for me as a youth worker is that I spend quite a lot of time in personal development and more recently I've been spending more time READING which is something I "didn't have time for" when I was working ridiculously long hours.
Well I've not blogged this week until now because I spent Tuesday having an indulgent training day. During the day, I joined my friend Mark at his Methodist training course for a session on Black Theology run by Anthony Reddie and in the evening we went on to the SAOMC theology course that I used be a member of (nostalgia fest - I've SO missed them all - let's not go there!) for a session on the Reformation and a session on Paul and his first letter to the Corinthians.
The day with Anthony Readdie was REALLY good. I learnt an awful lot about the practice of tolerance and our need to work from within ourselves and encourage people to share their stories (reminded me of Bob Mayo’s session at Matrix too!) and in the afternoon we did a bible study which was very challenging.
Anthony had us read the story of Pentecost and challenged us saying that a traditional reading is that the Holy Spirit IGNORES difference and says we are all the same so we ALL hear. An alternative more challenging reading is that the Holy Spirit highlights and celebrates the difference.
One of the most challenging thing Anthony shared was about the invisible WHITENESS of society. The fact that we consider what WE are and what most of society is to be NORMAL. In fact WHITE is, subconsciously, the default setting for society. This means that, when reading the text of the Bible, even though it doesn’t SAY that the people are WHITE, people assume they are. The shocking news came from a survey of young black people reading the Bible. Anthony asked them to describe the people in the stories and the young people described them as white. When he asked them why they responded:
“Because if they were black, it would say so!”
So even though the Bibles don’t seem to be racially biased there is INVISIBLE WHITENESS. What other INVISIBLE things might there be? Surely our young people find that there is often an INVISIBLE ADULTNESS about our churches
“Because if it was for young people, it would say so!”