I offered these words at the UUFSC’s Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday evening:
The most difficult work of leadership involves learning to experience distress without numbing yourself. The virtue of a sacred heart lies in the courage to maintain your innocence and wonder, your doubt and curiosity, and your compassion and love even through your darkest, most difficult moments. Leading with an open heart means you could be at your lowest point, abandoned by yourpeople and entirely powerless, yet remain receptive to the full range of human emotions without going numb, striking back, or engaging in some other defense. … Without keeping your heart open, it becomes difficult, perhaps impossible, to fashion the right response and to succeed or come out
whole. -Professors Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky
It is not just the most difficult work of leadership that involves us learning to experience distress without numbing ourselves– is some of the most difficult work of being human! When you experience distress, when there is a significant disagreement in an important relationship, maintaining an open heart is HARD. But if I were to list some outcomes of doing spiritual/moral/emotional development work, being able to maintain an open heart and listen while experiencing distress and disagreement would definitely be on this list. (A friend shared this list with me recently and I think it’s fairly accurate).
The truth is even when you are feeling pretty good and secure in your life, maintaining open-heartedness is difficult. But if you are struggling, stressed, and insecure? Well, it may be virtually impossible. That is
when the compassion and open-heartedness of others saves us! I often like to think of church as a laboratory or a playground where we get to practice behaviors such as open-heartedness– lord knows there is plenty for us to disagree about! But at least in church, we share some values and the UU Principles– we share being part of a tradition that proclaims that you do not need to think alike to love alike. If we can figure out how to disagree here, then perhaps we have a chance of figuring out how to disagree in the broader world, with people who are even more different. In this age of political polarization, we need people who can disagree with open-heartedness more than ever.
I look forward to worshiping with you this Sunday: 12 Steps for UU’s- Addiction touches so many of our lives– 12 step groups have provided so much support to many, despite a lot of the ‘theological’ translation work many have to do to participate in such groups. What wisdom can be gleaned from the 12 steps? Worship leaders: Rev. Darcy, Brian W., Carol F., and Sue C.