Gifts from the Heart - UU District of Metropolitan New York
“Gifts from the Heart” A Workshop on Gift Identification “The only gift is a portion of thyself.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson Presented by Patricia Infante Director of Growth & Extension Joseph Priestley District of the UUA Metro NY Annual Meeting, May 3, 2008 “All people are lovable beings of infinite worth, imbued with powers of the soul. We are obligated to use our gifts, talents, and potentials in the service of life.” - From the vision statement of the UUA’s new Tapestry of Faith curriculum. What Can We Do for You? • People looking for a church are usually “in transition” or “in tension.” • They come with spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs. • Ministry is how we respond to those needs with service, care or aid. A Newcomer’s Questions • Newcomers want to know: – Do I fit here? – Does anybody want to know me? – Am I needed? What are Spiritual Gifts? • In the Christian tradition, they are a prescribed set of attributes that are biblically derived. • For our purposes, spiritual gifts are the powerful attributes of our own being, the unique and special talents that we all possess, that we use to do good for ourselves, our neighbors and in the world. Another definition… Our gifts are what make us unique. They are key to our very identity as people. (And the gifts of a faith community are essential to understanding that faith community’s identity and calling, too.) They include so much more than our talents. As important as our talents are, when was the last time you valued your spouse, child or closest friend for only his or her most visible skills? - From “Created and Called: Discovering Our Gifts for Abundant Living” by Jean Morris Trumbauer Assessing Your Spiritual Gifts The one Spiritual Gift that we all share is our presence. Gifts can come from nature: who we are Gifts can be nurtured: what we value Gifts are revealed through life experience Take A Quick Inventory… • What are you good at? • What do you know something about? • Who are the people you know or care about? • What kind of work do you do? • What groups of people do you belong to? • What are some physical things that you value? Go A Little Deeper… • Can you think of an event that brought you great joy? How were you changed by it? Were any gifts revealed to you that you didn’t know you had? • Can you think of a time in your life when you or someone close to you went through a difficult time? How were you changed by it? Were any gifts revealed to you that you didn’t know you had? • Are there other gifts you wish you possessed? Assumptions That We Make… • We tend to make assumptions about a newcomers perceived gifts and how they might best be used in our community. • Even longtime members may not be using their gifts in a way that leads them to spiritual growth. • Sometimes we pigeon-hole people into a role we think they are right for. • We may be successful in recruiting people and then wonder what happened when they fall away or burnout. Let’s Welcome Visitor “Susan” What we know: • She is a young mother with three kids who are 5, 8 and 11. • She has a partner who doesn’t attend with the family. • She has told us she is a teacher. • The Primary Class is one teacher short. • She seems harried on Sunday and is often late. What we assume about Susan… What We Don’t Know… • She works full-time as a teacher of severely • • • disabled young adults in an institutional setting. She often feels overwhelmed by her own kids. Her partner does not come because he is home taking care of her Alzheimer’s afflicted father-inlaw who lives with them. She plays the guitar and loves to sing. She has warm memories of singing in a youth choir at the church she attended briefly in her teens. The choir warms up one hour before the service. What are the needs, the gifts, and the opportunities in this story? Let’s Welcome New Member “Louise” What we know: • She has recently retired. • She has attended several other UU churches over the • • • past 20 years and just moved to this area to live closer to her daughter and her family. She has been a board president, chaired a capital campaign and been active in adult programs. The nominating committee is looking for folks interested in being on the Aesthetics Committee and the Hospitality Committee. The Social Action Committee needs a liaison to the local interfaith council. What we assume about Louise… What we don’t know: • Her last congregation negotiated a resignation • • • with their minister. This same minister married her daughter and led the memorial service for her late mother. She left the congregation in anger and has vowed never to accept a position of leadership in a UU church. Her son is on his second tour of duty in Iraq. She was a professor of Asian Studies and has traveled extensively in the world. What are the needs, the gifts, and the opportunities in this story? Let’s welcome longtime friend “Paul” What we know: • He is an “IT” guy who works for a small start up. • He is quiet and doesn’t talk to a lot of folks • • • during coffee hour. He has been coming for several years and hardly ever misses a Sunday. We have never seen him with a partner. The website needs updating and the board has been pressuring the Communications Committee to find a volunteer. What we assume about Paul… What we don’t know: • Paul’s wife died an untimely death five years • • ago. That is what brought him back to church. He got into trouble as a teenager and was mentored by an older adult from his church of origin. It was a transformative experience which he looks back on with deep gratitude. He doesn’t have kids of his own and doesn’t think he has the skills to connect with today’s youth. What are the needs, the gifts, and the opportunities in this story? Why do we fall into the “assumptions” trap? • A desire to get someone involved. • A need for a particular gift or skill within the • • • community. A governance structure with more slots than people. We have a tendency to focus on our internal needs over the needs of our neighbors. We are experiencing burnout ourselves and just want relief. How Would Having a Gifts Based Perspective Change Things? • Create opportunities to explore how a need for spiritual • • • • growth might be met by working in community. Gifts present themselves as the opportunities intersect with individual passions. Just because I am good at something doesn’t mean that I can grow spiritually by doing it at church. Just because I don’t have the skills I need right now, doesn’t mean I can’t grow into an area of ministry that is meaningful or exciting to me. Whose needs are we here to serve? Building a Gifts Based Ministry • Getting Started • Interviewing • Gift Identification/Discovery • Connecting • Equipping • Recognize and appreciate Getting Started • Thinking about accomplishing “the work of the • • • • church” by harnessing gifts and talents is a new way of doing business for most of us. Leaders need to prepare the congregation and manage the change that is inevitable. Select a team with the right gifts! Map the existing assets of your congregation. Give it time: 1 – 2 years is reasonable. Interviewing • What is your story? What does it say about you, • • • • your values and your passions. Good active listening skills are critical here. Can be conducted by Minister, Lifespan Faith Development Professional or trained lay team. Face-to-face interview is best. Use surveys ONLY if you are going to use them. Gift Identification • One time workshop • Spiritual practice plan • Small Group Ministry • Ongoing adult program • Obtain resources and use them Discovery People are gifted with distinctive competencies, not greater or lesser. The art is to help people discover and maximize what they do best. -From “Effective Church Leadership” by Kennon J. Callahan Discovery: A Definition • Discovery is far more than a written inventory. It must be personal and include a face-to-face interview, as well as utilizing other methods and instruments. At the heart of discovery is an intentional conversation of the head and the heart that emphasizes listening. -from “The Equipping Church” by Sue Mallory Connecting • • • • • • • This is the most important part of the process. What opportunities are the best fit for my gifts? Is it the right place and the right time? It should be a structured process and not left to individual committees. Each group needs a current job description. Someone needs to be looking at the big picture. Feedback necessary to prevent “the long hallway.” Equipping • Everyone needs to be given the proper tools for • • • the job. Training is essential for the people doing the interviewing and the connecting. Training can be formal or informal as long as it is intentional. Mentoring is a powerful way of developing one person’s gift by tapping into someone else’s. Random Thoughts… • Pay attention to language: “invite” rather than recruit; “serve” rather than volunteer; “ministries” rather than programs. • This kind of change takes time and intentionality. • I cannot over-emphasize the notion of taking time to let this concept take hold. If there is no bliss in our work, no passion or ecstasy, we have not yet found our work. -from “The Reinvention of Work” by Matthew Fox Resources For Learning More: • “Created and Called: Discovering Our Gifts for • • • • • • Abundant Living” by Jean Morris Trumbauer “The Equipping Church” by Sue Mallory “The Power of Asset Mapping” by Luther Snow “The Sacred Art of Listening” by Kay Lindahl “Leading Change in the Congregation: Spiritual and Organizational Tools for Leaders” by Gil Rendle “Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times” by Peter L. Steinke www.alban.org “Congregational Resource Guide” In closing… Each of us is a precious gift. Some come with fancy bows and some are in plain brown wrappers. Every time we give of ourselves, we show the world again that we matter to one another.