As most of you know, Ken and I are in our third year of school at Unity Urban Ministerial School in Detroit, Michigan. This Online program includes interfacing with other students and our instructors by Internet and traveling to Detroit or Kansas City twice a year for our Licensing and Ordination exams. We have the support of our West Central Region Advisor, Rev. Joe Sloan who also sponsors Unity Church in Redding until I become licensed. That will be happening next year!
In our courses, there is a major emphasis on developing personal boundaries and boundaries between the spiritual leader and congregation. Only when the leader does, can she lead in a way that empowers both those she serves and herself.
Personal boundaries are defined as the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships and how we will respond when someone crosses those limits. For those of us who have chosen the path of ministry, creating and maintaining clear boundaries can be challenging. We want to be there for our congregants. We want them to know that we care. We tend to put their needs above our own. Doing this at the expense of respecting ourselves as well as our congregants can result in early burnout and may establish an enabling relationship between the spiritual leader and her congregation.
Where I find it most difficult to maintain my personal boundaries as your spiritual leader is in the amount of time that I give to our church and congregation. You are an integral part of my life, and I find such joy in serving. I love you and all that Unity Church in Redding stands for. I appreciate you for what you offer in your time, talents, and treasure, and my desire is to be there for you. Sometimes I give at the expense of personal care—another topic focused on in ministerial school.
As I learn where my boundaries are in the amount that I do, I trust that you will honor your personal boundaries by saying “yes” when you truly mean it and saying “no” when something feels like too much. I want you to love how you serve and to feel joy in what you offer. We can support each other as we grow in honoring our boundaries. We will become stronger individually and as a congregation.
We are a thriving community. Thank you for the love and support that you give to me and UCIR. I am honored by you and by the work that I have chosen.