Apr. 9, 2018.
By Intern Minister Pippin Whitaker.
I am delighted to share with you that on Mar. 24, the Ministerial Fellowship Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Association welcomed me into preliminary fellowship as a UU minister (I still have to complete my internship and graduate from Meadville Lombard to finalize this). This means that I am cleared to enter search this fall and to find a congregation to serve as minister beginning in August 2019. Being granted this status also clears me for ordination, and I am exploring ordination possibilities for spring 2019 once I am approved for graduation. I will continue to serve UUCF as your intern next year half-time as I complete internship requirements for my seminary.
This is an incredibly exciting stage in my formation as a minister! The journey has been a rigorous 4-year process from deciding to apply to seminary to being cleared by the fellowship committee for ministry. And all along the way, people repeated a phrase I want to reflect on with you today: “Trust the process.” Aspiring UU ministers hear this phrase continually – any time they ask a question about going through the at-times-bureaucratic process of becoming a minister. But what does “trust the process” mean? Does it mean we believe the process is magically going to make us ministers? No way. For me, “trust the process” is a slightly annoying phrase (I’ll admit it) and an invitation into a practice of mindfulness.
By mindfulness, I mean noticing how you habitually react, and being able to choose a new way that leads toward your aspirations. As I moved through the process of seeking preliminary fellowship, I decided to be intentional about how I reacted to the process. Instead of going through mountains of readings, interviews, assignments, chaplaincy and more to get them out of the way and be called “a minister,” I chose to use the process to grow as a minister. For each stage, even if it felt bureaucratic, I asked what I could learn and develop from it. So, trusting the process became about trusting that I can use the process for growth and emerge transformed. I have emerged with a clear sense of my calling as a minister.
We can do this for any process. Consider some task that you do not especially enjoy but is nonetheless required. Think of doing taxes. It can be frustrating, right? (If you enjoy taxes, think of something else.) What if every time you got frustrated with tax filing (or whatever frustrates you), someone said “trust the process”? What if that was not just a slightly annoying phrase, but an invitation into mindfulness? I just finished filing my taxes. As I looked through receipts to shrink the amount owed, I chose to orient myself to growth instead of frustration. I asked myself, how much am I sharing with my local community, with the nation? I know I wish more of my tax dollars went to programs of social uplift, so are there things I can do about where my tax dollars go? It changes how I emerge through tax time. I emerge with a sense of generosity.
Like many of you, I am in the middle of another process worth reflecting on with intention. My home congregation in Columbia, SC, is in the midst of its annual giving campaign. I can look at this as just another ask, or I can orient myself to growth. If I orient to growing personally and growing a world that affirms my values, then I have an opportunity to give to my congregation with joy and hope. Supporting my home congregation is an exciting and rewarding way to help a community of spiritual uplift flourish. Reorienting myself to grow in generosity and creativity with my community changes the way I emerge through the annual campaign. I emerge with a sense of hope.
So I invite you, as you go through annoying or frustrating processes in your life, to ask yourself how you are responding. Are you oriented toward growth, toward your values and aspirations? As you notice your typical ways of reacting and choose a new way that affirms your values, may you emerge transformed, empowered and joyful. Blessings on your way.