WHY TWO YEARS ARE BETTER THAN ONE
By April Chivers
Over the course of my two years with MTS, I’ve had a few interesting conversations about the perfect length of an effective apprenticeship. So here are a few of my reflections on why I’m happy I did a second year.
YOU NEED TIME TO ADJUST (AND FAIL…)
The first year of an apprenticeship can be hard. Hard in many different ways, but ways that I think are all related to adjustment. Working out a new timetable, lifestyle, financial situation, skills set etc.
You’re also working out your strengths and trying to hide your weaknesses (because let’s face it, no matter how many times we hear “apprenticeships are great for working on your weaknesses” we all think we will be the special one that will never fail… anything.) My first big fail came a little later in my first year, which meant I lured myself into a false sense of awesome-ness, so my fail hit hard. I suggest you get your first fail over with quite early so you have a more grounded view of yourself.
Failing is important. And we will all fail at something (if you think you haven’t, you’ve probably failed at either pushing yourself or having a proper view of yourself). But failing can be so very hard on our sense of self.
Having a second year to try again helps to vindicate failings and will help you get the confidence you will need to be a more dynamic force in ministry. It will also help you to adjust to your new life as an apprentice so that you spend less time freaking out and more time working hard.
YOUR NETWORKS AND RELATIONSHIPS ARE STRONGER
To begin with, nobody really knows who you are and what you are doing. You will probably get a few random introductions when you are speaking up the front of church and many people will ask you, probably multiple times, “so who are you working with?”.
By the second year, people start to remember you and you become known for your apprenticeship.
This also works within ministry circles too. I was so lost in the first year of my apprentice, trying to remember who was who and what their particular strengths and areas of interest were. But by second year, you get to know your networks and they get to know you too.
SECOND YEAR HELPS IT TO FEEL MORE REAL
I think during your first year what you are doing is still sinking into you and to others around you.
The glitz of “being in ministry” wears off and you start to get a real idea of what it’s like to actually work in ministry. It’s easy to begin with to think you’ve just joined this league of uber-spiritual super humans, especially as you start to notice people treating you differently (asking for your opinion at Bible study, asking you to pray at public meetings, inviting you to be a guest speaker at a youth event etc.) but by the second year you’ll get over it and realise that ministry is hard work and you are still broken and sinful.
Finally, you feel less unsteady and more equipped while still having the safety net of “being an apprentice” to help give you the confidence to test who you are and what you’re good at. In second year I felt more like I knew what I was doing. That meant I could try new things and know that if I did fail, I would still learn from the experience and that’s what apprenticeships are about anyway.