What are your current developmental needs, and how might a congregation assist you in addressing them?
The things that I struggle with include discerning when to be open about myself without overstepping professional boundaries and being realistic about how well I’m meeting the congregation’s needs. The way a congregation could help with these things is by giving frequent, direct, and honest feedback to me.
Describe a mistake you have made in the past, and how you have addressed it:
As Interim Minister I advised the congregation to replace the Administrator, who was also a Board member, with someone who didn’t have that conflict of interest. I then was involved in the search process for the new Administrator. Even though I tried to help the Administrator/Board member prepare for this eventuality, when she was replaced by a new Administrator, she was very angry and her anger was directed at me.
If I were to do this over, I would stay out of the selection process so that the Administrator/Board member might have had an easier time getting pastoral help from me as she experienced the loss of this job.
Ministerial roles and functions:
How would you wish to function with lay leadership? Comment on your leadership style:
I like to work in a collaborative way with lay leadership. While I would expect the lay leadership to make decisions about the running of the church, I hope to contribute to their decision making and would be active in supporting the goals of the leadership. My leadership style varies with the situation and with the communication styles of the people involved. Where there is a need to make a change, I can be directive, although I do communicate with and endeavor to consider the concerns of all involved. With an established congregation I tend to take the longer view more often than not, expecting changes to evolve over time. Although I enjoy creative problem solving, I don’t feel like I have to be THE ONE who comes up with the solution. It seems to me that the more responsible and thoughtful ideas there are to work with, the better the solution will be, and I enjoy that kind of team effort and collaboration. Some of the most enjoyable interactions with lay leadership involve brainstorming and collaborating around a particularly complex or challenging situation.
One strength I bring is the ability to ask questions that often help to bring out what people are not saying or are having difficulty articulating, and this can be the key to going forward. Given that many UUs are natural introverts; this particular skill has served me well in church work.
How would you wish to function with (paid) church staff?
I am quite comfortable in the role of supervising the staff. I offer mentoring and support to allow staff to contribute effectively and creatively, and do not hesitate to give clear direction when needed.
I have found that regular staff meetings are extremely helpful in keeping morale high, and in maintaining joint focus on goals and addressing any issues or challenges that arise. It is helpful for the staff to have a strong identity and connection as a team.
How would you wish to function as part of a ministry team?
I enjoy working with teams where all are actively involved. I enjoy a collaborative approach to planning, creating, and problem solving. I have found that some typical church committee structures can be cumbersome and draining to volunteers’ energy and time. In our culture today, especially among young families, having smaller more contained tasks to accomplish is really helpful to getting and keeping volunteers. This is also true in a wider sense with social action and other projects. I believe there are opportunities to be creative in our approach to shared ministry, and to experiment with different approaches to engage and involve a broader segment of our population.
How would you wish to function in the communities beyond the local congregation?
I enjoy participating in the local interfaith group, as I have in other ministry settings. I have also been active in the denomination collegial meetings and conferences. The congregation I currently serve is active in community affairs and I have enjoyed attending events at their request where I have been asked to lead a service, participate in our community service work, or say a few words during an event. I would enjoy the chance to support or seek opportunities to make connections between UU’s and other people in the community.
What has been your experience in leading organizational change in multicultural settings?
I believe that when we lead change in any organization that it is within a multicultural setting. Leading change effectively requires an awareness of the fact that people participating in the change may have a completely different perspective than my own and different from each other. Effective change results from careful listening and good communication. It isn’t always possible to know how the various people involved will respond or what they will need, but by staying present and alert to what is being said, a leader can offer an empathetic ear and clarity as concerns and objections arise. I have experienced this in different ways during each of my church experiences. Each church I have served is located in a part of the country vastly different than the one I grew up in. And the differences in culture played a part in how change was understood and accepted. Each church has a culture of its own based on its history and the founding members’ personalities. A leader has to be alert to whether changes trigger fears based on what happened in the past or because of present day concerns. I find that significant change takes time and many conversations, sermons, and explanations to really come into effect. And I have learned the most about myself and the congregation during times of significant transition and change.