Deconstructing Our Next Minister by Tim Torres, Prayer Chaplain, Board of Trustees Treasurer
“Deconstructing” … seems like an odd word to use regarding our next minister, at first glance. It means analyzing something by reducing it to its constituent parts, exposing its hidden internal assumptions and contradictions. Deconstructing our next minister really means defining, as thoroughly as we can, the qualities we are looking for in a minister.
We think we want the best minister we can get, but that’s not a recipe for success. We could hire a minister who is the best speaker, the best counselor, the best provider of spiritual comfort, the best teacher, the best leader, and the best manager or administrator, someone who works hard and is bursting with love for the divine in everyone. But if that person doesn’t line up with who we are collectively, their many qualities, skills, and talents won’t be enough. No, what we need is a minister who aligns with the culture of our UCSA community. But what is our culture?
Our culture can be defined as a set of shared values, or unwritten rules which are often taken for granted, that guides us towards acceptable and rewarding behavior; it has both hidden and visible aspects. These shared values come from our history, both “ancient” and recent: 1) our original culture – the beliefs, values, and functions that formed the foundation of the community. 2) our experience – the learned beliefs and values that come out of actual experience in the community – what works and what doesn’t work. And 3) our incoming perspectives – the beliefs, values, and assumptions brought in by new members and leaders.
Culture matters. A new minister must fit into our culture if he or she is to be successful. We can also change our culture deliberately, but only after we analyze our culture to expose the unwritten unspoken rules to the light of day. In any case, if there is not a good fit between our new minister and our culture, it’s not fair to us or our new minister. We are likely to experience some distress trying to adjust. Our relationship with a new minister can, simply put, fail. Emotional upset is very possible. Then we’re back to square one, except that we would now have the added stress of that failure, and any hard feelings that arose along the way.
Here’s what I know to be True … UCSA is a wonderful community with a unique culture. When we have analyzed that culture, we will know how to define it, and therefore, exactly what we are looking for in a new minister. And that minister that fits our culture best is out there, in a universe of infinite possibilities, headed our way, if we exercise the wisdom to identify our needs accurately.
This is what “Honoring our Past, Creating our Future” is all about. Your participation is important as we analyze our culture, which comes from our past. We are bringing that cultural past into the light, deliberately defining what we do well, what we can do better. That knowledge will allow us to deconstruct our new minister in a universe of infinite possibilities. Let’s take this path together.