For me that event was a big deal. I was a couple of terms into college and still feeling shy about being there. I'd arrived fresh from six months of running a church, alongside the church wardens, after beginning an admin job and being promptly told two weeks in that I was on my own as the Vicar was retiring! Suddenly I was the one filling out the marriage registers and booking in the Baptisms. I planned the services, fought with the printer each week over the news sheets, assisted at funerals and even had the great joy of swinging open the church doors for the entrance of the bride on a good friend's wedding day.
But despite all this the feeling of finally stepping into a role as daunting as offering leadership to a church congregation, many of whom are infinitely wiser and more experienced than I am, still left me decidedly wobbly. Who am I to stand up and give a sermon each week? Who am I to help shape the future of a community, to develop and to train people? I felt decidedly like a little girl in some oversized robes. And yet I had been selected for this role and in many ways prepared for it. I really needed to be told, 'Little Girl, get up!'
Now I look at the role I am going into a little differently. A place of leadership in the any organisation is one role among many and no more valuable than any other. Leadership is about encouraging and enabling. If you have felt like that scared little girl (or boy!) then you are in many ways even better equipped to lead. You understand what holds people back, you know what it is like to have obstacles and you know how to overcome them and how to help others do the same. I have been invested in and theologically trained to a level where, quite frankly, my brain is swimming. But I know I am enriched, that I am always pushing on to be better at what I do, and that what I have been given is a gift to be taken out into the places I go next.
So the next adventure for this little girl is another spell in a church without a Vicar but this time in Barcelona. I'm very excited, with just a little bit of wobble, and busy reminding myself of the things that I've been given in these last few years that I can take with me into this new challenge. My tutor reliably informs me that by the end of my exams in June, when I will be heading off to Spain for those few weeks, I will be at be my intellectual peak so if nothing else they will hopefully get some good sermons out of me!
I'm also reminded that this is just the beginning and soon I will be going to interviews for my curacy (an assistant vicar type to you and me!).The challenge is set, then, and I'm getting ready to go. It looks like this little girl just got up!!