There is a classic Zen story about Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912).
“Nan-in received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. ‘It is overfull. No more will go in!’ ‘Like this cup,’ Nan-in said. You are full of ideas!! How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
Many of us are busy with so many responsibilities that we often get overwhelmed. With every new request, our cup overflows, often until the point of frustration and we say no more!! It is important to know what our limitations and boundaries are. If we take on too much and fail, we feel we have failed not only ourselves but others. So we need to learn to say no gently. To do this we need to determine what our priorities are. We cannot all be on every team and make every decision about everything that happens in the Congregation. We have to understand what our gifts are, and where those gifts intersect with a need in the Congregation. We also might want to consider what committees or teams in which we would like to participate, that might challenge us a bit and help us personally grow. When we take on a project, we have to be willing to see it through, and when we let go of a project, we have to let go and trust others who take over.
Our Congregation has come again to the point in time where many are stretched very thin. In the past, when we get to this size, something happens that causes us to pull back into ourselves. Anticipating this, last year the Board created the Growth Task Force and Strategic Planning Team to find a new way to allow us to overcome the challenges we have faced in the past. The Strategic Planning Team proposed hiring additional administrative staff to free up Volunteers and Staff from administrative tasks, so we can all focus more on programing. In May, at our Annual Meeting, the Congregation approved a budget that affirmed this vision. This means we have to be willing to let go of some of the tasks we currently perform and delegate them to others. Delegation is a difficult thing. It does not mean we abdicate responsibility of everything. It means we don’t have to do everything ourselves. It means we allow others to help us do the work that needs to be done to achieve the Vision and Mission of the Congregation
The hardest part about delegating work is that we are not always directly involved in making decisions about everything. This past year, I have felt the burden of not being able to do everything I wanted to do. In truth, there is always more to do. I also need to prioritize where to share my energy. I am hopeful, with the additional administrative help, that I will be able to have more time to take on a leadership role in Community Social Justice issues and to ensure quality programs continue to grow within the Congregation. My focus will be on newer programs, programs that need more direct leadership, and programs that stir my own personal passion for ministry. Yet, even for myself, as we add programs, I will not be able to attend every meeting.
I know that my changing priorities may cause concern for some of you. This is one of the challenges of a growing Congregation, and I want to identify that challenge. The only way to deal with this challenge is to recognize what it is we are hoping to create. We want to create a vibrant, welcoming, diverse Congregation. We need to create this, not just for us, but for and with others in the community and for generations to come. As always, I look forward to meeting with members to hear about your hopes, dreams, challenges and anxieties as they arise.
Additional programs, delegation of authority, and the empowerment of teams, also comes with a need for policies and procedures, so that members can know what is expected of them, what are the boundaries to work within, and how to find guidance regarding how things work. This is an ongoing process, and we are all working together to help build a quality organization that helps us reach our vision and mission in a collaborative way. Let us empty our cups and make room for something new and beautiful in our lives. Let us be willing to let go of old ways and help each other and those who have not found us yet. Let us build a new way, a better way, to be together in religious community.
with a grateful heart