To become a minister is to answer a deep calling. It is a willingness to be open-minded and open-hearted in the face of all circumstances and emotions that stir people up. For me as a minister and as a life coach for leaders and organizations, one thing I am sure of is that we are living in a fast-paced world. Information bombards us constantly and we often find ourselves drained and overwhelmed by our to-do lists. There are so many requests for our input in leadership that unless we are clear about our purpose and mission, we find ourselves spending time on tasks that don’t move us forward.
We long for peace of mind and a sense of balance. Ministry requires us to master specific skills in order to meet the demands of our organizations. We have access to lots of knowledge and that is great, but more importantly in order to be effective we are called to demonstrate what has been termed Emotional Intelligence (EI) by Daniel Goleman. These skills are people skills and determine the success of a leader.
Leaders aren’t born. They practice learning how to communicate with others skillfully. Leaders who have learned how to be emotionally mature have developed deep listening skills. They are confidant and decisive. In any situation, they know what to say and how to say it without offending or upsetting others. They are caring and considerate and leave people more hopeful and optimistic. In these chaotic times, EI is imperative for ministry. Our role is to engage people as quickly as possible to focus on possibilities. Leadership from the top down won’t work anymore. We must work collaboratively for the purpose of making a difference in the world.
Daniel Goleman explains, “People who want to be effective and create impact as leaders need to connect with an inexhaustible source of power. Whether that work involves dismantling systems of racism, undoing the patriarchy or building power in community, the tools they learn to use go far beyond the ‘hard skills.’ To create the change we need, leaders need not only hard skills, but the ‘harder skills’ of emotional intelligence, mindfulness, adaptive leadership, self and community care, authenticity, deep listening and many more.”
In fact, I recommend throwing away the to-do list and first develop your to-be list. Life flows from the inside out. Effective leaders are ones that demonstrate certain qualities which in turn inspire greater levels of engagement from people. With church attendance dwindling, and resources diminishing, we are called to be more creative. I am not talking about ministers doing more in their churches, but inspiring more engagement in their communities. Without knowing our “why” to ministry and to our world, we get lost in all our responsibilities. We are not called to over-function but to allow the voice of spirit within to guide us. This means being willing to be clear about who we are, what our gifts are, what support we would like, and engaging with our spiritual communities in new, creative ways.
Life at our current pace, requires us to be more adaptable to change and more open to support. It is not about saying more, but deeply listening to others. Saying yes to change is uncomfortable for all of us even when the change is pleasurable because it calls us to grow and be even more present, engaged in life. We no longer can ignore what we don’t want to face. Change show us we are not really in control.
I love that change allows for new possibilities to emerge. The leadership that is being called for now asks us to pay attention to what is working and allowing more conversations to take place. The wisdom of the group is more important than our particular insight. We allow this wisdom to emerge by being more present to our principles and each other. Relationships are our mirror to where we are being called to grow. Our principles practiced together produce certainty in uncertain times.
I love that our Unity principles are simple. We must learn to integrate these principles into every aspect of our being, and demonstrate them so people recognize what we stand for and on. As leaders, our role is to inspire, empower, and serve. We aren’t in ministry to respond to every need but to model how to show our love and compassion in difficult times. Principles are statements of truth upon which we base our beliefs and our behavior. Can you easily express your principles? People respond enthusiastically when we confidently assure them all is well, and we must believe it is true.
When we answer the call to ministry, we embody the very nature of God. My coaching tips for leaders is to ask yourself these questions as you begin each day:
- Am I willing to be empathetic, aware, present, expansive, resilient, authentic, and empowering today in order to produce an extraordinary result?
- Am I willing to observe rather than analyze?
- Am I willing to tell the truth even if it’s uncomfortable?
- Am I willing to ask for support?
- Am I willing to let go of having to be in control?
- Am I willing to learn the lesson right before me?
We have been called to ministry at this time so rest assured that what is wanting to emerge is a new way of doing it. One that calls for cooperation and collaboration. Let’s have fun. It will take effort but it doesn’t have to be a struggle. Let us find the answers together because our truth tells us it is already done in consciousness. Let’s vibrate our energy harmoniously while we discover what is next. And please ask for support. We are here for each other.