Taking a role on TUUC’s Board of Trustees beginning in early 2014 and growing into the role as the board’s President, I have been anxious about dealing too much with the administration of the congregation and not enough with the programs and mission of my spiritual community.
A small book I read last winter and spoke about on July 3 helps me through this: showing me that my service is a spiritual practice and the time I spend on governance and policy issues, with our minister and other board members, is my way of engaging in and building our spiritual community.
The book is “Serving With Grace — Lay Leadership as a Spiritual Practice” by Erik Walker Wikstrom. Wik launches this book from three key ideas: our congregations are voluntary associations, whose members are at our best when we’re doing the things that make us come alive, and there is no separation possible between our work and our spirituality. Hearing this helps me see that serving the congregation is a spiritual practice.
First, note that we come to TUUC not as consumers but as co-owners and co-creators of the community that we have voluntarily joined. We are the forces that will create the future we envision. Without knowing TUUC specifically, Wik understands that we join together as a congregation to: build supportive, collaborative community and build the world we dream about.
Second, heed the advice of Howard Thurman who calls each of us to “ask what makes you come alive, and then do that thing.” We are rich with gifts. We are enough. Wik encourages thoughtful, heartfelt self-discovery to answer: who am I? what do I bring? where can I grow?
And third, trust and embody the wisdom of many spiritual traditions in their teaching that life is ultimately One. Wik’s version: “we must be able to find our calm in the midst of confusion, our peace in the heart of our problems, our spirituality in the center of everything else.”
This helps me see that a conversation about managing TUUC’s finances can be a spiritual practice. This helps me remember that the quality of engagement, conversation, and work is what matters most. This helps me see that as we each step into work that is right for us, and as we each attend to that work with care for ourselves and one another, we are building collaborative, supportive community, and advancing our mission.
Let’s lean into the work of coffee making, preparing RE rooms for the fall, planning a worship service, or signing checks. Through this work, we’re creating the community of our dreams. Let’s make it so.
President, Board of Trustees