I wrote a blog post on loneliness a while back, and I found the comments interesting and a bit depressing. The Mad Priest said this:
Competition in the church is not all about climbing the greasy pole. It is more like competition among siblings. You are the baby in the family now. Just wait to you grow up and start trying to get one of the increasingly fewer incumbencies. If, as in Newcastle, your prospective bishop is in on every interview, then pleasing daddy and showing daddy you're so much better behaved than your sister, can have life changing results. And if you remain an assistant priest until you retire, whatever you do, do not preach better sermons than your vicar.Sadly, I can see exactly what he means, and it increases the sense of isolation and loneliness, I don't know whether it is true in every sphere or just the church. I think it should be different to this. A little while back I recognised that I have contributed to this myself by discouraging others rather than encouraging them (see blog post). I am trying in all my conversations now to both be encouraging of others and call people when they discourage me. Perhaps this will change things. I was also struck by the poem below, (thanks to banksyboy) because I whilst I think encouragement will improve relationships, it requires the death of pride, and if we don't kill pride it can have devastating effects:
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb, for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an Angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by its horns,
A Ram. Offer the Ram of Pride instead.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.