Being an intern instead of a student in a classroom is big change, and like any big change, it has its ups and downs. On one hand, I love being able to put my learning into practice in this congregation, and to continue learning here in a more experiential way than classroom settings provide. On the other hand, it is sometimes a bit daunting to let go of a familiar role or routine and step into another–to be ministering instead of learning to minister, for example. Change is like that, and we all deal with it at varying levels throughout our lives. Even the exciting ones bring with them a bit of tension.
Organizations actually experience many of the same feelings about change that individuals do: a blend of excitement and fear, of anticipation and resistance. The difference is that in an organization, not everyone is having the same feelings at the same time. In one way this is good–it allows the enthusiasm of those who are looking forward to the change to carry the organization forward to the next step. On the other hand, it can lead to tension when individuals or groups feel invisible or unheard, or believe that they are the only one feeling stress about something that everyone else is excited about. I’ve seen this happen many times, in corporate, academic, and religious settings.
This year, of course, is one full of change for UUCB. The Search Committee is working very hard to make sure everyone has the opportunity to be heard in the process of choosing this congregation’s next called minister. (If you haven’t attended a Searchlight Gathering yet, I urge you to do so this month!) It is also true that even with a perfect process, there would be those who are worried or hesitant about change. It’s human nature–we like what’s comfortable and familiar, so inviting change into our lives when things are going well (instead of only changing things when something is not working) can feel like a big stretch.
Whether any one of us defines this year as “exciting” or “stressful” (or both) is our individual interpretation. It’s important to recognize that in community, however we define a change, there will be someone who is experiencing it differently.
This is where the covenantal nature of this community comes into the equation. Because we have pledged ourselves to be in covenant with each other, we are committed to listening deeply, to speaking the truth in love, and to putting the needs of the congregation ahead of our own personal desires or fears. That is explicitly the job of the Search Team, but it is also the work of each member of the congregation. May we do that work with love and respect.