I had a conversation with The Wise Women today about admin. One of us (not me) said that admin was something she enjoyed. Others of us confessed that not only did we not enjoy it, we are not good at it.
It was a fun and insightful conversation, touching on gifting from the Spirit (highly appropriate for Pentecost weekend!) and involving some real theological reflection if the kind the Wise Women are so good at.
And ot as left me wondering – why is it ok, indeed, almost socially preferable – to confess to being bad at admin, and to disliking it. One of our number actually said “I’m sorry – I like admin”(And I hope she was encouraged by how many of us wanted to say that we craved her gifting!) It is something like saying “of course, I can’t do maths.”
I say both. But it wouldn’t be acceptable, for example, to say “I can’t read” or “I find working out how to dress myself so hard, and would rather not have to do it”. Why is it that some activities – like admin, or counting – which are deeply necessary and without which the world would not work, are somehow seen as ok to deny all capacity for, and even as the kind of thing that it is appropriate to apologise for being gifted in. how did this happen?
I treasure the encounter with Organised Friend many years go now. She came to my then study which was chaotic to the point that even with my capacity to tolerate a fair degree of messiness,I was finding it difficult to work, and helped me find a way to sort things out. There was a moment in the day when she said “all you need to do is to file this stuff” – and I remember with much laughter the look on her face when I confessed that I had no idea how to file. “But everybody can do that” she said. “I can’t” I confessed. “It involves categorisation, and that is something I can’t do.” Ad she helped me work out how to do it and finished the day by saying “maybe the things I take for granted because I can do them is really something I should value and recognise as having a distintive contribution”.
I can actually do the admin I need to. But I have had to learn how to, and I have to work at it. I am deeply deeply grateful for the people who are skilled and gifted in this area. And I am sorry that somehow I have become part of a culture that says that it is ok to boast about incapacity, and that leaves those who make the world work somehow apologetic for that!