Thoughts from the Board President
As I write this, the Board and the UUFA congregation are involved in a wide range of activities. We are completing the yearly pledge drive which forms the basis of our budget, monitoring our upcoming expansion process, and engaging in the usual day-to-day decisions and issues that any non-profit organization of any kind must face.
However, UUFA is different from “any non-profit” because our governance in in service to our ministry. Love Calls Us On, our theme for the year, orients us to the purpose underlying our day-to-day interactions.
This month, Love Calls Us on to Humility. An online dictionary search (always my starting point for considering a theme) provides the following definitions:
Humility: freedom from pride or arrogance; the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people; the quality or state of being humble.
What does that mean as from the perspective of the Board? From the perspective of any member? From other leaders?
In my view, humility calls us to listen deeply prior to making decisions. It calls us to accept that viewpoints differ, and that perspectives other than our own have value.
It also calls us to recognize our own humanity, and to accept that we make mistakes. It calls us to admit our vulnerability… and to be kind when others admit their own imperfections and errors. It calls us to reject the false assurance of self-righteousness.
When in our respective roles we must make decisions that others may disagree with – and let’s face it, very few decisions are totally immune to critique – humility calls us to face disagreement without arrogance or “making it personal.”
In researching this month’s theme, I came across the “Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess,” from which I share some excerpts that struck me as indicative of true humility. My own comments are added in parentheses.
Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity. (Meetings would be so much shorter if we all could remember this!)
Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends. (Recognizing and respecting one’s scope of responsibility is a crucial aspect of leadership.)
I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong. (Sigh. Enough said.)
Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces. (Even justified – or necessary – criticism can be delivered with kindness and tact.)
Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so. Amen. (Everyone makes different contributions – and all are of value.)
And a final quote on humility: “True humility is staying teachable, regardless of how much you already know.” (Anonymous). That’s an especially important quality for leaders. ~ Linda Gilbert, UUFA President