I have worked for Royal Mail for almost 10 years, over various roles and stints, starting life as an IT Engineer in Manor Offices, Chesterfield and now running the IT Service Improvement programme from Rowland Hill House. Throughout my time here I have met many, many wonderful people and enjoyed the ups and downs of working within a big, well-known and trusted organisation.
However, I look back at an event at a Christian Youth Weekend some 30 years ago and, for a long time, wondered how that teenager ended up working in IT. For at that conference weekend, as clear as day, I felt called to serve God as an ordained member of the Church.
I was at university at the time, with a plan to learn all aspects of Social Policy and to graduate with a degree that would provide a solid base for a life as a teacher. I was preparing to do my PGCE upon completion of my degree when life took a turn. Following this Youth Weekend, I began to feel a sense of purpose in Christian Youth Work and applied for a variety of roles in the summer of graduation. I took one such opportunity in the Lake District and spent a year working with a group of churches and charities in outreach and discipleship of teenagers and young adults.
Unfortunately, funding lasted only a year, so I sought what I thought would be a temporary job within a Housing Association. There I began to help with the IT and found myself propelled into a career that I had not expected. After a short spell with the Housing Association, I was offered a permanent role with a national manufacturing business, managing their email system. A year later, with children on the way, my sights had turned from Christian Youth Work to a desire to join Royal Mail’s IT department and lay down what my mum called ‘sensible roots’.
Life can bring such changes and doors opened in IT where they hadn’t in Christian work. In those early days there was a sense of frustration and confusion, but my church minister at the time encouraged me to embrace the life experiences that were coming my way and seek God’s path through it, wherever that may lead.
Throughout my IT career I have challenged myself to be the best I can, working my way to a senior technical role before moving into management. I rose to be Head of Service Management for a global organisation before Royal Mail came calling once more to lead on IT Service Improvement. It seemed that would be my lot, but the return to Royal Mail was accompanied by a renewal of that call, 30 years ago now.
For the last few years my career at Royal Mail has run in parallel against working out that calling. Firstly, as training to be a local preacher in the Methodist Church, then offering myself as a candidate for ordained ministry. The stringent process the church undertakes to test such a calling is both intense but reassuring, as we worked together to ascertain God’s will for the rest of my life. I was selected for training and began a three-year, part-time course to run alongside work, raising a family and practical church-based experience.
Those three years, which has included regular travel to the Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham for weekend training, is now drawing to its conclusion. The college lectures, the relentless reading lists, the many assignments and the multiple placements have all worked together to form and prepare me for a life of witness and service as an ordained minister.
A key part of that formation and experience has come outside of formal study in the working environment of Royal Mail. Supported in work by like-minded Christian colleagues has been a valuable and essential part of my journey. Meeting together for prayer and fellowship has sustained me along this journey and has helped me realise my calling.
So, it was with great delight to meet Alisdair Rusk this past summer and learn a little about the rich history of Christians in Communication, operating within Royal Mail down the years. Learning how small groups came together back in the 19th century to create a work-based fellowship is inspiring as we continue to do likewise today. Recognising their achievements has spurred me to on to see growth amongst those who share our faith into the 21st century. I will take that desire into my new role which, I hope, will retain links to industrial chaplaincy and work-based fellowship.
In January, the Methodist Church will confirm the group of churches to which I will be sent next September to work out my probationary period of two years. Such as itinerant ministry that those churches could be anywhere in the UK and so there will be a period of change for our family in 2020. Moving to a new house, a new school for our young son, maybe even a change in employment for my wife, will once more bring joy and sadness in equal measure as we embark on this calling, whilst having to leave family and friends behind.
Yet as I look back on this journey, one I thought would happen 20 years ago as a result of that calling received as a teenager, I realise God’s plan, whilst not our way of doing things often, is perfect. I sometime feel like Moses, whose life changed quickly upon birth, once again as a young man, and then again in his later years, but one that combined all his experiences and maturing into the man of God that was called to bring a specific ministry to God’s people. The life I have lived and the experiences God has brought me through have strengthened by faith and my desire to serve Him. My future is, as it has always been, safe in His hands and we will go where He sends, to serve those He sends us to.
My hope for 2020 and beyond is simply that I will be worthy of that call.
The LORD Jesus Christ taught his Disciples to pray, and to address God as their Father. But how can this be? How can we address God as our Father? He is the Almighty, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps90:3). He is the...
I have worked for Royal Mail for almost 10 years, over various roles and stints, starting life as an IT Engineer in Manor Offices, Chesterfield and now running the IT Service Improvement programme from Rowland Hill House. Throughout my time here I have met many, many...
THE LORD’S PRAYER (2b): OUR FATHER …. The LORD Jesus Christ taught his Disciples to pray, and to address God as their Father. But how can this be? How can we address God as our Father? He is the Almighty, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is...