Friday, September 5, 2008
A Vulnerable Friday Five
Sally at Revgals has come up with a very interesting Friday Five. It seems to be a way to get back to blogging after vacation:
“I have recently been reading a book entitled Jesus wept, it is all about vulnerability in leadership. The authors speak of how Jesus shared his earthly frustrations and vulnerabilities with a select group of people. To some he was the charismatic leader and teacher, to others words of wisdom were opened and explained and some frustrations shared, to his "inner circle of friends: Peter, James and John, he was most fully himself, and in all of these things he was open to God.
So I bring you this weeks Friday 5:”
1. Is vulnerability something that comes easily to you, or are you a private person?
For all my extroversion, I have a private side that I let few see. I see this as a necessary thing in ministry because when I have been too vulnerable, I have been badly hurt. It took me a long time to know where the edges of that private side were and to respect them.
2.How important is it to keep up a professional persona in work/ ministry?
I railed at the idea that I needed to keep a ‘professional persona’ in the congregation. But I found it was necessary. When I wanted to cry, I found that there were those who needed me NOT to cry. I learned I could cry later for their sakes. I learned that when parishioners were angry, they needed me NOT to be angry with them. They need the safety of my calmness. This ‘professional persona’ was not only my safety net, it was a necessary part of what I needed to be the kind of pastor/priest I wanted to be. Sometimes this ‘persona’ has slipped –usually on the anger side—and I have regretted it. And so I always stand in the need of forgiveness. But when emotions are high in any way, it is important for that ‘persona’ to be there for the sake of the congregation.
At the same time there is a difference between ‘persona’ and being not y0urself. There is an important piece of one’s integrity that has to include one’s own ‘realness.’ This was what was so hard for me to learn. If I was angry, I thought others should know I was angry. But that isn’t helpful. I am a big woman and angry big women, for some reason, scares the bejesus out of some folks. I had to learn that especially when I was feeling anger, I needed to drop into an authentic part of me that could be calm and non-responsive to my feelings for the sake of the other. I think it is has been one of the hardest things that I have had to learn in ministry and it is still a challenge.
3. Masks, a form of self protection discuss...
A mask seems to denote a way of protecting one’s self with a form of deception. It means a way of being inauthentic. Maybe that is just the word, but finding the ‘persona’ that conveys one’s personal authentic self that can face the various emotions, circumstances and especially emergencies is quite important. It is much more important than a mask. It is like having to be strong enough not to fall apart when being with a family who has to identify the body of their child who has been killed. It is allowing the compassion to come out when a sick patient is being whiney when you have had a lousy day. It also knows you can face a high emotional situation when you are not your best. I find masks far too limiting, but ‘persona’ more authentic.
4. Who knows you warts and all?
There are a couple of people who know me warts and all. And a couple who know parts of me better than I know myself. My long-time colleague J. knows me best. She has lived with my ups and downs and in-betweens for over 30 years and been willing to put up with me. I know her too and we share our vulnerability and respect it. I doubt if I could have so close a companion if I were married or “partnered”. We feel lucky to have each other and I wish that many of my married/partnered friends could have such a friend.
5. Share a book, a prayer, a piece of music, a poem or a person that touches the deep place in your soul, and calls you to be who you are most authentically.
I go back to Ecclesiasticus (Ben Sirach) from the Apocrypha—Chapter Two. It has been my support from the beginning of my relationship with God.