Each day in my ministry I'm asked to weigh in on situations or advocate for what I believe is what the Congregation wants or what is most healthy for us. I'm aware that I am not the type who has to win or who can never lose. In fact I think using the win-or-lose model is dangerous in our congregational life and work. It lacks spiritual and faith maturity. That is, if we employ that model we are operating from a place far below our best selves and far below what our tradition calls us to be. Win or lose instantly sets us up as adversaries, which we are not. I often wonder about what the baggage is that we carry that pushes us to risk dignity and relationship in order to win. What elicits the anger and resentment when we feel we've lost something. These are some interesting dynamics for members of a congregation, and their minister, who are on the same team with the same goals.
Desperate are we when we must win and not lose. Forgiving and understanding are we when we must win while others win. Yes we've all heard that our goal is win/win, and it is. But how do we bring our emotional and spiritual maturity with us versus our baggage? One excellent way is to think and meditate on before we gather with others is -- I am okay, no one wants to harm me or take something from me. Another way is to ask yourself before you speak, "will these words harm another?"
Such pauses will help you communicate and support and love others around you in a way that you will be grateful for and proud of. These are emotional skills. Learning that nothing is personal and the game is not win or lose.
We have a couple of times to practice those emotional skills this month. We have a pre-annual meeting and an annual meeting scheduled. Those meetings are offered to give voice to all members. Using our newly developed skills we will be able to disagree, debate, and decide without feeling that we or others have lost something. It's quite easy really. Simply see the person as a partner in trying to decide what is best for the Congregation, rather than our enemy.
So you see, win or lose has no place in our home. We are all working toward a win/win. If something is decided that you don't agree with, but could live with for the sake of the health of your partners and the Congregation, it's a win.
It is not unusual for any UU congregation to experience some interpersonal issues. It's also not unusual for congregations to decide that they aren't interested in personal attacks, harmful words, and hateful divisions. If I can claim to know you well I'd say we've moved beyond all this. But it may be lurking this time of year. Simply practice and encourage new emotional skills. Our community and our work depends on our practice. This Congregation's talent and commitment to meaningful relationships will surely arrive at our gatherings. Practice, practice, practice!
In faith, Rev. CJ