Skills and Character
One of the key strategies for the future of work and of wellbeing is the Government’s commitment to apprenticeships. In a world of less predictability about career paths, job opportunities and regular work, there is a welcome move to equip people with both the skills and the character to find useful employment – to develop the self and to contribute to the needs of society. This is true at every level. Training for the traditional ‘professions’ involves a mix of practical and theoretical learning – as much as preparation for more traditionally ‘hands on’ occupations. This “apprenticeship model” is recognised as an especially important approach to the preparation of young people for the world of work. Apprenticeships produce a creative mix of skills and character that equip people with ‘life skills’ that are flexible and the basis for future development. What can the Gospel contribute in this kind of world?
1. Master and Apprentice
Jesus uses and endorses the model of master and apprentice. A student will never become greater than their master (“it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher”. Matthew 1024). Rather there is a profound mutuality. Jesus gives Himself to those He calls to apprenticeships. In turn, like those first disciples or learners, we respond by giving ourselves into the great enterprise of His kingdom – in which we are given a share. The key to the Master-Apprentice relationship is not ‘what is in it for me?’ – but what am I learning to develop myself and to contribute to the enterprise. Self called into service for the sake of society.
2. Apprentice and Master
The learners/disciples called Jesus ‘Master’ but between them they were called, equipped and commissioned to offer particular leadership and ministries. Apprentices are learners discerning and responding to a call, accepting the responsibilities of a commission, and always open to future development, challenge and change. The Gospel places the exploration and ownership of vocation at the centre of each human journey, and as the key to the flourishing of society.
3. Apprentices for God
The Gospel witness is entrusted to Christ’s church. We must model and offer this commitment to ‘formation’ for ourselves and for our communities through our relationship with our ‘Master’ and Lord. Each parish is, at its most basic, a community of vocation and formation. In our Diocese the Director of Vocations and the School of Formation offer particular wisdom and resources to enable us to fulfil this kingdom responsibility most fruitfully.
Take Time to Reflect
In the ‘quiet’ month of August, when meetings are less and many church activities pause, it would be good if each of us took time to prayerfully examine our own apprenticeship – our vocation and our formation. Then, we need to play that part in the calling and forming of our churches, and in the further development of our own skills and character. A small step keeps the journey alive.