Sunday, April 28, 2013

Your Waiter Tips You Part 2a

This is just a short one, an addition to Tip 10 from a previous post.

#10a Tipping

Tipping in cake is amazing! Last night I had a table that was celebrating an 8 year old's birthday. As well as a £5 tip, they gave a a large slice of cake. It was amazing and really made my shift.

Other 'Your Waiter Tips You' Posts
Part One
Part Two

Monday, April 15, 2013

Called to be a Bureaucrat

This is a post that has been rattling around my head for a long time, but I've been unable to articulate myself. So let's see how this goes.

I've been thinking a lot about my role and calling within the church recently. A number of people have asked if I am going to become a local preacher, or even enter the ministry. I must admit that I would hate to be a local preacher! I led a service a number of years ago, and really didn't enjoy it. It's just not me, I'm not an 'up the front' kind of person. And I have struggled to explain to people that I'm not ignoring a calling, or running from it. I honestly don't believe I have had that calling. I'm not going to say never, because I know that God may call me yet, but I feel my place is elsewhere.

It often seems to me that the church values 'The Call to Preach' as the only calling you can have. As a young person active in the Church, the obvious next step is doing Faith and Worship (the training you do to become a Local Preacher, that is someone who is able to preach, but isn't a Reverend). But we can be called to so much more.

I am a bureaucrat. Some would prefer to use the term 'Methodist Geek', a label I am also happy to wear. I really enjoy meetings. I love being at Conference, being part of the decision making structure. It is where I am happy (sometimes frustrated, despairing, ashamed but happy). I know there are others who hate it, find it a bind to the day to day work of a church. But the 'business side' of the church is important. And it's where I think I best serve the church. I feel my calling is to the bureaucracy. Where that will take me is anyone's guess (except God, I guess he knows).

I was reading Jill Baker (The Methodist Women in Britain President)'s blog just now, and I quote from that now.

 [Rev. Peter Baker] recounted a tale (legend?) about Sir Christopher Wren visiting the site of St. Paul's Cathedral, incognito, during its construction and asking one of the labourers what he was doing.  The boy answered, "I'm just carrying bricks" to which the great architect replied, "No, you're not, you're building a cathedral". (You can read the rest of her blog here)

Being involved in the business side of church can often feel like you are carrying bricks. Doing a lot of the ground work. I don't say this begrudgingly. I am not a great ideas man, but I am happy to support those who are, to put frameworks in place, work on policy and procedure to facilitate great projects. As well as a meetings man, I am a bit of a techy. Tech support is so often a thankless job. The band stand up the front a get the thanks after the service, while us techies are ripping up gaffer tape, coiling wires and packing away the speakers. And doing the business side can be the same. Very few people stop to thank the person who did the risk assessment, the budget, the form filling. And again, I don't to sound like I'm hard done by. I don't do what I do for praise and glory, I do it because it needs to be done, and it is where I can serve the church.

I just ask that people think more widely about callings people can have. Being a Techie can be a calling; being a bureaucrat is a calling; doing the flowers is a calling. And all callings are as important as each other.
So next time someone asking if I have thought about local preaching I will say 'Yes, I have thought about it, and I think God wants be to be a Bureaucrat.'

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Radical Idea for Reforming Politics

I feel I should go and put my Che t-shirt on to write this, as I'm going to propose a radical change to the British political system.

Recently, I have been listening to old episodes of The Mark Steel  Solution (which can be found here), in which Mark Steel suggests radical solutions to social issues. These include that the Royal Family should be chosen by a weekly lottery, everyone should be force to move house and change families annually, and public transport should be paid for by the people who don't use it. (Although it is obviously a satirical programme, when you hear his reasoning, you do start to see his point.)

Anyway today I am going to suggest the Matt Collins Solution:

Anyone who wants to be a politician should automatically be barred from the House of Commons.

Maybe this is a bit of a kneejerk reaction to the last few days, but I am ashamed of the British Political system at the moment. Repeatedly we see big business and bankers, media types and millionaires getting tax breaks or bail outs, while we see those most in need being vilified, attacked and pushed deeper into poverty.
Public opinion is carefully selected to fit the message politicians want to portray, and debate is shut down. In the past couple of days, when four churches were critical of Benefit reform, the Chancellor dismissed this as the church having 'vested interests'. I fail to see how Churches have a vested interest in millions in poverty... And when a Cabinet Minister claims that he could live on the same amount as a person on benefits, people asking him to prove it is dismissed as 'a stunt'

Now I don't want to tarnish all MPs with the same brush, that would be unfair. Many do a great job of representing the concerns of their constituents. But it seems the higher up the party system you go, the less the public seem to matter. They only matter when elections loom, and then it is a rush to outdo each other in pandering to popular support. (I could go on a whole rant about the failing of the Party Political system, but I'll leave that for another time.)

But with the advent of career politicians, who go straight for their PPE course are a Russell Group university to a PR job or policy researcher, then gets parachuted in to a safe party seat a rocket up the ministries, I believe the wrong people are getting into politics. This is a planned rise to power, but someone who obviously has the drive to make it to the top, and stay there once they get there. It becomes about power, not about service.

And this is why, under the Matt Collins Solution, these kinds of people would automatically be barred from become politicians. Instead, people would be able to select a person who they believe would do the best job. These would most likely be people who never gave a thought to being an MP. You would be able to elect someone who has a passion for their community, and wants to make a difference for the people around them, rather than ideologues who seem more interesting in power for themselves.

Now this isn't perfect; there are details to be worked out, such as an effective vetting system. But Comrades, who is with me?