I was recently tasked with building a spiritual community.
Creating such an environment, I quickly realized, is very different than setting up a company. With a company, there is an expected structure and hierarchy. With a community, where involvement is a critical and integral part of the structure, the development is not the same. There are differences in opinions, emotions, and lots of friction. How this friction is handled makes all the difference.
With a company, the managers are the authority. Their word is the final word. With a vibrant community, everyone’s opinion matters, that is, if the intent is to keep all involved and engaged. The leader’s role is to bridge gaps, allow for greater tolerance, and bring in compassion, understanding and kindness. That is not always that easy, especially as some of the community members may come with an agenda, and when their views are not accepted they may work to sabotage the community at large. My teacher is in the habit of saying, twice St. Francis, once Archangel Michael, i.e. approach conflicts twice offering compassion, but if that doesn’t work, it is time to pull out the sword and cut.
I’ve been learning that lesson quickly. It is a harsh lesson and I have much more appreciation for past and present spiritual leaders such as Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. Granted, what I am setting up to do is not to the scale of what they have built, but in the micro, I see the enormously macro. This is where faith comes to the rescue. When things seem to full apart, it is time to call in trust and surrender; not surrender in the sense of laying down and doing nothing, but acceptance that things are as they are. Human nature is such that is creates friction. Accepting it, knowing when it is time to let go of what I wished things to be vs what they are, is faith.
I am sure more lessons are coming my way, and I embrace the process of learning, evolving, and growing. I lead by standing in my weakness, exposing my own vulnerabilities so others may do the same. By doing so, I hope to inspire a deeper sense of connection, so that something beautiful can emerge.