In this chapter Osborne sets out various expectations that are placed upon the country parson. Drawing upon the terms used by St Paul and the Church, as well as a twentieth century one, Osborne describes how the country parson might attempt to fulfil the various roles expected.
Osborne does come around to the conclusion most would expect, that the country parson is not likely to fill all roles equally well.
No vicar is going to get by taking on just one of these roles. Some roles will be thrust on unsuspecting ministers against their wishes. The vicar who wants to sees herself as the pastor of the flocks will have to spend some time dealing with paper, filing, forms, registers, correspondence and phone calls attending to matters of gravestones, wedding music, attendance figures and faculties. The chaplain who wishes to stay quietly available, a specialist in corner conversations about 113significant matters, will sometimes have to step forward and represent the church to the local radio or press. The evangelist who sees himself as one of the church, a friend and companion with a particular gift for helping people come to know Christ in a personal way, will find that at times he has to be formal and up front, representing God and the church as the parish priest.
There might be other roles, chosen by or thrust upon the country vicar. The vicar might be everyone’s uncle, an agony aunt, a social worker, a saviour, or the new romantic interest in a tight-knit community. The vicar might be seen and treated as a fool or a freeloader. Some of these the vicar might resent. Some they might be happy with. Some roles they might take reluctantly but realise the roles are necessary for the time or that plenty of people before them were cast in the same role, including perhaps Jesus and the apostles.
This chapter closes out with an episode called the “Trainers”, a story about a curate who wore red trainers hatching, matching and dispatching! You get the picture.