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Desert Notes September 14, 2023

Love is our Doctrine. Service is our prayer. Justice is our calling.

Desert Notes September 14, 2023

Developing our Capacity to Manage Differences

This month a lot has been going behind the scenes! Rev. Sam Wilson has been in 1:1 conversation with many member leaders and staff. Members of the Committee on Shared Ministry, the VUU Board and the Leadership Development Committee will also be meeting with Rev. Sam during our kick off weekend coming up September 21-24. The Spirituality of Conflict Small Group Ministry will begin as well and Rev. Sam will lead worship with Rev. Sarah on September 24. Later this program year Rev. Sam will lead a weekend workshop open to all and VUU will continue to receive coaching and resources to help us build our capacity to manage conflict and difference in ways that increase our ability to function as an organization and as a community of shared relationships. Thanks to each of you who has taken the time to engage with this work as we begin.  

I know some of you feel skeptical or worried about this work, uncertain of what it will require of you and of us, and uncertain of its outcome. I know that for many of us, learning to deal with conflict and difference is at the very least uncomfortable and potentially it may call up feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, or a desire to run in the other direction! We’ve all experienced relational outcomes that are less than ideal when it comes to conflict.  

Here are the ingredients I hope you’ll keep close at hand to make this a recipe for hope and renewal: 1) Curiosity and wonder–the ability to ask questions, be open, and consider other points of view, especially before acting. 2) Courage–the willingness to speak up even when you’re out of your comfort zone, and to make requests when you need something. The willingness to share a different perspective and your feelings about a situation and to listen to someone else’s. 3) Humility–the ability to reflect on your own role and responsibilities in a conflict and what you can do to contribute to a solution, including being willing to make amends and apologize (and sometimes be courageous enough to be the first one to do this.) 3) Commitment–to stay the course, even if you have to take a breather; willingness to resist the urge to run away and instead lean into the work of building community. This work is part of how we build, sustain and re-frame community and connection. When we do it well, we take that capacity into every area of life where conflict and difference show up. In other words, this capacity building has positive impacts for every aspect of our lives and at every level of social organization. We have a lot to gain in engaging this work with integrity and love.