Reading up on a book by Richard C Brown on "When Ministry is Messy: Practical Solutions to Difficult Problems". I started reading this much earlier some months ago after getting it from Wellsprings Catholic Bookshop. I had went there to meet up with my old friend, Peter Hong (with his wife, Belinda), whom I have not seen for some years now, since he moved his book shop to Lavender Street.
Why am I reading this book now? Well, apart from the obvious title that relates to my ministry, I am also currently on leave and using this time to catch up on some engaging reading material. I also need to find out what else I may need to consider when I am in the midst of such messy ministry.
It is a messy place out there in the parish ministry. When it is being run well, problems are kept to the minimal. Mostly, and this is found in all parishes, the ministry tends to be run in a manner where personal interests abound and fill with the intrigue of a spy/thriller novel that can make Ian Fleming proud. It may not start off as such. Everyone wants to head to a direction that is to serve the needs of the parish and, ideally, the vision of a Kingdom of God in which every one has a fair stake in it and engaging with the commandment of loving God and neighbour.
But, always along the way, someone must have forgotten the neighbour part and it then becomes a race as to who can do better to get God's attention and points.
I find it utterly tiresome and exhausting to be in the middle of all this, and wondering why are people fighting over a turf that was never theirs in the first place and why this myopic view of a Kingdom that centers on a particular ministry or post as if it really had their name written all over the place for them to use (or misuse) as they see fit.
The book suggests three main reasons why we have such messiness: personality differences, emotional illness and sin. These are nothing new and they can be found in various degrees and intensity in any ministry of any parish. The challenge is to identify them and work towards solving them and to come to a peaceful settlement. We are extremely complicated human beings - no wonder we are so messed up!...