This Reflection was offered at the Morning Worship Service of The Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron, June 10th 2007, by Jamie Goodwin
About a year and a half ago I was sitting in a meeting when I heard the Nominating Committee Chair say something like “We are having a hard time filling openings in the board, and we are running out of time.”
Cool I thought, I mean I haven’t been here at this church for all that long, less than 5 years, but I know a lot of people. I am really active in the online UU community. At that time I was on about 7 mailing lists, a blogger, and a member of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, which is a national congregation of Unitarian Universalists. Not to mention I was newly elected onto the Ohio-Meadville District board. Although I would have never admitted it at the time, I was thinking to myself… come on, you know this stuff, show up and blow them all away.
Suffice it to say, that is probably not the best attitude to take when starting out on a board of trustees. That is not to say my experience didn’t help. I like to think I brought insights and ideas to the board others might not have. I like to think my national and district connections have enabled me to look at issues with a scrutiny I might otherwise have not. But in the last year I have learned a few humbling lessons that I would like to share with our new board, with whom I will be working with in the next year, and all of you.
First of all, everyone on that board, everyone… in fact I would venture to guess nearly everyone in this congregation… knows this stuff. We all come from different perspectives and experiences and passions, but we know this stuff. We carry with us the hopes and dreams of what our future will be, and for each of us those hopes and dreams are a little different.
Which brings me to the second lesson I had to learn, our hopes and dreams may not be quite the same, what we each envision our tomorrows to look like will not be identical, and that is ok.
That is ok, because, the whole point of what we are doing here in this wonderful and sacred place, is trying to show the world that people are not required to believe alike, or to love alike, in order to live in peace and strive towards a better tomorrow.
A few months ago heard someone say, I have thought about serving on the board, but I have heard so many horror stories that I am afraid to. That makes me a little sad. Now I am not going to stand here and sugar coat it for you, being on our board takes a great deal of time, a strong commitment to this church, and a passion to help shape that “whatever that tomorrow will be”, but it is not a horror.
For me it has literally the most profound opportunity for growth that I have ever experienced. I have learned to say “I don’t know” and “I cannot”. I have learned that sometimes being a leader means, letting go. Letting others take the lead, and trusting their vision, their passion, to do the work.
So to those of you who are leaving our board, I want to say thank you, you have literally changed my life. Your passion and drive have been an inspiration.
And to those of you who are joining us now, I commend you and am honored to get the chance to work with you.
And to the rest of you I just want to say; being a leader in this church is not about knowing all the answers, or having the best connections, it is about living our faith. It is about standing up for that better tomorrow. If you go, I will follow… I encourage you all to share your knowledge, your strengths, and your passion. We are in it together.
May it be.