Happy new year! I hope your holidays were a time for reconnection with loved ones and rest and renewal for your spirits. My holidays were filled with an anxious Advent of awaiting test results about my wife’s health (which turned out as good as we could hope) and a week of being sick in bed. Coming back to and work and sifting through the piles on my desk and in my email box this week has been a little easier because I brought my rediscovered health with me.
December was a hard month for many of us. I have the fairly unique privilege of getting to talk to colleagues all around the world as a main function of my ministry. Even though most of those connections are during conference calls and meetings I get the chance to hear how people’s lives and ministries are doing. I don’t remember ever hearing so many stories of ministers dealing with tragic deaths, painful pastoral crises, challenging congregation leaders, imploding budgets, institutional dysfunction and downright orneriness. And that was before the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School happened.
I notice that my gratitude and appreciation for what ministers do, what youdo, grows the longer I am your Executive Director. When I was in parish ministry I would always warn people who got into leadership that they would see "behind the curtain” and might see some things about people, including their minister, that they didn’t want to see. While I could say the same thing to people who get involved in UUMA leadership (sometimes our flaws and weaknesses do get the best of us), the truth is that having the chance to watch what you do and how you do it from afar is more than inspiring. And one of the reasons it is inspiring is that most of you don’t even realize how amazing you are. You just do what you do.
Ministry is hard work. Lots of jobs, of course, are hard work. But there is something different about being a minister. The last few months I have meeting with people to talk about the intersection between business and spirituality. In late November I met with a former CEO of a Fortune 50 company who is now the dean of a business school. As we talked about business, spirituality and religion he shared his admiration for the ministers he has known in his life. We shared our personal stories of business and religion and he shared with me his perspective that ministers have the hardest jobs in the world. I was surprised to hear this from a man who was a CEO of multi-national company responsible for thousands of employees and billions of dollars in sales.
The new year always invites us to look at life, and our self, in new ways. May each of us have the gift of seeing ourselves, and the difference we make in the world, in a new light. As we notice and appreciate the small and large differences others make as well.
UUMA Executive Director