Ponderings of the Spiritual Life Director 1-2-2019

Ponderings of the Spiritual Life Director

Happy New Year! I hope this newsletter finds you feeling renewed and refreshed and ready to move forward in love.

Last month, I started to write about our congregational covenant and I presented you with the first two lines. This month, I’d like to look at the 3rd line of our promise to each other:

I will promote a harmonious spirit and a truly welcoming congregation by my personal caring and positive attitude.

What does a harmonious spirit look and feel like? Is it just a matter of getting along? Smiling at each other and being agreeable? Of course, it goes much deeper than that. A culture that truly operates with a harmonious spirit is a lofty vision, but it becomes more feasible to promote a harmonious spirit when we look at the “how” of how we do things. I find it very useful, as I’ve done before, to turn to the “White Supremacy Culture” document by Tema Okun. I think her explanation of “perfectionism” is relevant to making the changes we need to make in order to promote a harmonious spirit. Here’s a couple of highlights:


●Little appreciation expressed among people for the work that others are doing

●Appreciation that is expressed usually directed to those who get most of the credit anyway

● More common is to point out either how the person or work is inadequate or even more common to talk to others about the inadequacies of a person or their work without ever talking directly to them (this is called “triangulation” and is something our Right Relations Committee will be addressing)

● Making mistakes is confused with being a mistake; doing wrong with being wrong

● Little time, energy, or money is put into reflection or identifying lessons learned that can improve practice- in other words, little or no learning from mistakes

● Tendency to identify what’s wrong. Little ability to identify, name, and appreciate what’s right


● Develop a culture of appreciation where the organization takes time to make sure that people’s work and efforts are appreciated

● Develop a learning organization where it is expected that everyone will make mistakes and those mistakes offer opportunities for learning

● Create an environment where people can recognize that mistakes sometimes lead to positive results

● Separate the person from the mistake when offering feedback

● Always speak to the things that went well before offering criticism

● When offering criticism, realize that being your own worst critic does not actually improve the work and often contributes to low morale among the group and does not help you or the group to realize the benefit of learning from mistakes

I think we have started to do very well in expressing appreciation for each other’s work- but let’s not stop improving! It can certainly show that we care for one another. I like how the above antidotes can help us see that by expecting and learning from mistakes, we can cultivate a positive attitude within the group, thereby raising those harmonious vibes! We can even look forward to, with much curiosity, future mistakes and all the valuable learnings we will gain from them.

What else can you find in the White Supremacy Culture document that would help us to promote a harmonious spirit with a positive attitude as we care for one another? How does it help us to understand how to be a truly welcoming congregation?


What an exciting year we have ahead of us!  I look forward to journeying towards a culture of “harmonious spirit” with all of you!

In Faith-