by Leadership Development Team Chair Craig Bennett.
Three years ago, former UUCF Associate Minister Rev. Laura Horton-Ludwig brought together a group of lay leaders at UUCF to consider how we, as a faith community, could inspire, support and nurture lay leaders in our congregation. We began by considering what makes a good leader, what tools and support a leader needs and how leading in a spiritual community differs from leading in business or government. We asked ourselves “what motivates and inspires people to take on leadership roles in a UU congregation?” We found many answers to that question, but one that kept coming up was that people step into leadership roles because they believe in the mission, love the congregation and see how their skills and passions can serve the congregation. Most of us can say yes to the first two pretty easily, but what about that last one? We decided to focus our attention on helping people see how they could contribute to the health and vitality of UUCF.
Over the last few years we’ve done a number of things to that end. We realized people need to know how the congregation is organized in order to consider being leaders, so we developed a Leaders Guide. We reached out to leaders and volunteers at UUCF to ensure they were aware of opportunities for training and spiritual development offered by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the UUA’s Central East Region, like the online UU Leadership Institute. We conducted in-person interviews with current leaders to ask them how UUCF could better support, train and prepare people for leadership roles, and we’ve begun to try and make that an integral part of the culture at UUCF.
Leadership in a spiritual community provides tremendous opportunities for spiritual and personal growth. Contributing in some way to the health and vitality of the congregation offers the personal reward of knowing you have been of service to your community, but it also gives you countless opportunities to practice your values in a supportive environment. In a spiritual community we can take risks, be forgiven our mistakes and lead with love. Leadership can be a spiritual practice if we remember that how we lead in a spiritual community is at least as important, if not more important, than what we accomplish. This is a very different message than most of us receive in the rest of our lives where “the bottom line” is of the utmost importance.
So what about you? Have you thought of getting more involved but aren’t sure how? Would you like to help develop your leadership skills in a supportive community? Do you have ideas about how to nurture a culture of spiritual service at UUCF? The Leadership Development Team will be continuing our work in the fall and hope to hear from you!