2019 - 20 BOARD PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
How Leaders Show They Care
It is a fairly common thing in churches to talk about how we care about each other. In Unity, we take that one step further and affirm that we are One. Yet, as we have all heard, talk is cheap. Words ring hollowly if not backed up by caring concern, willingness to listen deeply, and concerted action. In other words, we have to show you that we care. And it is up to you to tell us whether you feel cared about and whether our actions are aligned with our words.
My work with A Course in Miracles (ACIM) led me back to the Center for Attitudinal Healing. Their work incorporates what they call empathic listening. This is listening to what someone has to say, as well as listening for what underlies that person’s words – their intentions, feelings, and what is important to them. It demands our full engagement – at mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. It also requires us to be vulnerable, which calls to mind one of my favorite ACIM lessons, “In my defenselessness my safety lies.” If we, indeed, believe we are spiritual beings in the process of creating a more wholesome human experience, does this not sound like a challenging and amazing opportunity to show and/or develop spiritual awareness and maturity? It certainly does to me. It calls me to be simultaneously present to Spirit and another person, to listen with my full attention and the intention of hearing and feeling all of what they are communicating, to let go of all of my resistance and defensiveness, and to consider that this person is expressing love or a call for love. This takes our communication out of ego level concerns about who’s right and who’s wrong to an experience of communion in which we have said “Yes!” to Spirit and become willing instruments of understanding and peace. Is this not why we are here?
That said, let’s get back to the issue at hand, How Leaders Show They Care. Here’s what I have come to understand and believe:
1. I believe that empathic listening is a great start, as participants feel heard, understood, and cared for. This also involves our ability to stay present to each other in the midst of uncomfortable experiences.
2. I think another element is the awareness that how we do things (including how we treat each other in the process) is in many instances more important than what we’re trying to accomplish. You may have felt this in the whole discussion of wearing masks. The jury may still be out on how effective masks really are, yet wearing one is an important statement to others that I care about them, and that takes the discussion out of the realm of right and wrong, to I celebrate our connection by showing I care about you.
3. Another element is being willing to release our control over how things get done to allow broader participation. As a leader, it is an opportunity for me to recognize that you love our community enough to want to contribute and to trust that Spirit is working in and through you just as it is in and through me. My desire to control is an expression of ego -- not Spirit.
4. We need to regularly express and show our appreciation to our members and, perhaps especially, to those who criticize us, bring up uncomfortable feelings, and maybe even thoroughly push our buttons. Our gratitude blesses and opens the Divine Flow to all involved.
What else occurs to you? Do you look at this differently? Please e-mail and let me know.
Now, how do we begin walking this talk? Board VP, Darla Henry, and I are going to initiate a series of Zoom open forums. Maybe we’ll call them Come Dance with Spirit and the Board. In any case, the idea is to have a series of open conversations about Unity of Harrisburg – whatever is on your minds. We will do our best to be continuously present, engaged, and grateful no matter how many toes get stepped on and how uncomfortable it may feel. This, of course, includes a standing invitation to all Board members and to our Senior Minister to join us in this expression of servant leadership. What are your thoughts about this?
You can reach me by e-mail at email@example.com and/or by cell/text at (717) 778-7247. I look forward to your feedback. And please remember – you are important to me.
Board of Trustees
Unity of Harrisburg