7 Questions with Paul Hendricks
Name: Rt Rev Paul Hendricks
Current title: Auxiliary Bishop
Current organisation: RC Archdiocese of Southwark
First degree in physics. Then I worked for GEC. Felt call to priesthood. Applied to Southwark and sent to study at English College in Rome (1979-85). Assistant priest in Tooting (1985-89). Taught Philosophy in local seminary (1989-99). Parish priest in Peckham (1999-2006). Area Bishop for SW London (2006 onwards). National role: Churches Together and other ecumenical work. Also Co-Chair of Christian-Muslim Forum.
1. What have you found most challenging as a church leader?
Having to relate to the same people in different roles (as a pastor and as an employer, applying both church law as a bishop and civil law as a trustee). Not always being able to tell the whole truth because of the demands of confidentiality. Maintaining the balance between work and prayer.
2. How did you become a church leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I received a phone call from Nuncio (the Vatican's equivalent of an ambassador). I went to visit him and he told me I'd been chosen to be an Auxiliary Bishop. It's as simple as that. Being a bishop isn't a job you apply for in my tradition. And if you're asked, a refusal is only accepted if you have a very compelling reason.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
First 4-5 mile walk (while saying Morning Prayer, listening to Bible audiobook and saying the Rosary). Mass before breakfast if not part of the programme later in the day. Office of Readings and silent prayer after breakfast. (These are the fixed things, which are only possible if they're done as early as possible). Rest of the day is extremely variable. Could be church services, diocesan or ecumenical meetings, trustees' meetings, visiting a school or a parish, individual visits. Emails and other correspondence fitting in around these. Reading and study is often done while travelling on public transport or listening to audiobooks while driving. Fairly strict about finding time for homily preparation, which I find very rewarding. I also try to find time each day to read from large Bible commentary. Prayer During the Day and Evening Prayer fitted around the rest of the programme, but rarely missed. Usually some opportunity for relaxation and leisure, sometimes in the evening, sometimes at other times of day. I live on my own and do my own cooking, so able to be flexible. On average I can fit in a day-off per week, usually visiting family or friends.
4. What's one book apart from the Bible that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Have to mention three somewhat similar books: "Divine Renovation" (James Mallon), "Forming Intentional Disciples" (Sherry Weddell), "Rebuilt" (Michael White and Tom Corcoran). Helped me to see that it's more about helping others to discover their potential and actively share in leadership, rather than about what I can do myself directly. Looking to move people from being religious "consumers" to being disciples. Emphasis on relationship with Jesus rather than older, more institutional models. Learning from other Christian traditions. (Fits in with keen interest in Receptive Ecumenism).
5. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Pope Francis has been a particular inspiration in recent years. Shows that the bold approach is sometimes necessary, rather than the safe option.
6. How do you develop a healthy leadership pipeline in a church?
By encouraging active engagement of people in different forms of leadership, locally. And by letting them do this, rather than trying to control everything oneself, which is where some of our clergy fall down!
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a church leader so far?
More vivid in my mind than my own experience: the chapter in "Divine Renovation" where Mallon describes a parish where people were more concerned about not having their routine disrupted than doing something about the fact that the parish was dying around them!