Archive for March, 2010

A Difficult Truth

My friend Sally, a very smart person, encouraged me to start blogging.  So here goes.

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop in my congregation.  The facilitator – another smart person – asked those in attendance what we thought the soon-to-be-selected minister’s job was.  Someone said, “to make us happy.”  The facilitator politely, but directly said, “This may come as a shock to you.  But the minister’s job is NOT to make you happy.  It’s to carry forward the mission of the congregation.”

THUD.  I watched the faces around the room as this difficult truth was taken in.  Not to make me happy?  What?  In a congregation?  Aren’t religious institutions here to support our personal needs?

Not long after, in a meeting of a volunteer organization-within-an-organization I’m involved with, a discussion arose about the management of the corporation and why they weren’t more focused on paying attention to what all of us wanted.  And again, it was clear:  because that’s not their job.  The management is there to make sure the parent organization survives, and perhaps, thrives.  We’re responsible for the happiness part.

It’s a difficult truth:  sometimes it just comes back to us.  In congregations, the call to shared ministry emphasizes the responsibility each of us hold for ensuring that there is balance, respect, embrace of commonly-held goals, and ultimately — just maybe — achievement of some amount of satisfaction all around.  It seems to me the same holds true for other organizations and businesses.  We all share a part of making success, or bringing about conflict.

In a time when more and more people seem focused on what *I* want as opposed to what serves the common good, it’s sometimes difficult to keep the ultimate goal in perspective.  “Not here to make me happy” can come as a shock, until we acknowledge our own power – and promise – to achieve that most important of personal desires.

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