When Trust Becomes an Issue, Integrity is Everything.
The key is to work together.
An open letter to the leaders of our local spiritual community.
To My Fellow Religious & Spiritual Community Leaders,
As you know building community is critical. Community gives us (all of us) a place to find support, inspiration, and strength. Community gives us the opportunity to help those who need our knowledge, experience, and guidance. Community helps us navigate the toughest times in our lives by giving us a support network we can rely upon. A strong balanced community allows us the opportunity to build friendships and create an extended family.
Let’s face it! We live in times when the pendulum seems to be swinging to the far side of where we are about to revisit the dark ages. Once again, we seem to live in an era where old ideas based on hate and exclusivity are honored over those based on tolerance and acceptance for all.
We can admit it! It’s scary! We are supposed to be beyond this. We are supposed to be civil societies with higher ethics. But sadly, our current leaderships do not seem to model the values of the people.
To create any kind of community, we must come together as an interconnected entity made up of many different parts that celebrate our diversity. To solidify a refuge for those we serve and for ourselves, we must work together toward serving our communities with maximum benefit and efficiency. We must do this if we are going to survive uncertain times.
When building your beloved community, I know you poured your heart and soul into it, and I am sure you continue to do so. There is a piece of you in every ounce of your organization and in those who believe in your mission. I know this because I too have poured my heart and soul into the creation of F.I.R.E.
I tried to deny the Devine call toward leadership, but it would not let me ignore it. I even took a nearly 7-year sabbatical away from the community hoping I could find another way to fulfill my spiritual life purpose. The fact is, like you, I am also meant to help the community. Together, we are meant to share what we know, and most importantly we are meant to serve the community as spiritual advisors, leaders, and strong shoulders of support.
To build a solid and cohesive community or refuge, trust and authenticity must be established and maintained. This means there are certain spoken, unspoken, written and unwritten agreements that must be obeyed by all involved parties. Professionalism is a must! This especially applies most to the board members of the organization(s) you choose to work beside.
To build a sustainable community model, you must have full confidence that those you work with will not betray your trust by going Roque or creating conflicts of interest for you and your beloved community. In turn, your congregants and supporters must also trust that you are building an authentic model for them to use as an example within their lives. For them, you are building a model of what kind of human being they will decide to become and how they will live their lives.
We are Religious and Spiritual leaders, the example we set is critical.
Building a community is not easy. It takes time. You must build trust, and you must effectively communicate your purpose to the right people. To do this you must manage the amount of confusion that naturally comes along with promoting a new idea to those who don’t realize how much they need you or your organization. Most importantly, building a community is NOT about creating competition for one another. It is about coming together and WORKING TOGETHER.
I will harp on this essential point most because it seems that our local community has not yet grasped the importance of this critical element. Working together and remaining trustworthy is the glue that holds everything together. If I can’t trust you, and if you cannot trust me; we have nothing.
OH! Wait! I take that back. We will have something, but not anything that builds strong trustworthy partnerships.
Building a cohesive and sustainable community is not about proving you are more powerful for better equipped compared to those you work near. It is not about comparing yourself to those you envy and besting them at their own ideas. Building a strong community is not about stroking your ego or proving something to someone who plays no part in the betterment of the organization. These are petty needs and actions of the unenlightened. These are petty actions of those who have not followed a path of faith and awakening.
OUR WORK IS TO BENEFIT THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
Our work is not about fulfilling our personal needs and desires.
As leaders, we need to be aware of our behaviors and how they might disrupt the work of others as we move forward. Building trust should be one of our top priorities. Trust must be built for our message as leaders and community visionaries to reach those who need us most. Sometimes this means monitoring other “leaders” and helping them see the errors of their actions or in many cases inaction.
To make a community work – to make a community cohesive and sustainable, we must adhere to a certain level of ethics, guided by a tightly tuned moral compass. You, along with the people and organizations you work with MUST understand that certain activities and behaviors are unacceptable.
If fighting amongst ourselves (creating “Witch Wars”) and combatting other religious and spiritual organizations was effective in creating positive communities, we would already have a thriving spiritual community with a solid foundation. BUT history has shown us the truth.
The fact is that squabbling, trashing, copying, and undermining one another DOES NOT WORK. Its only purpose is to divide us. These actions and behaviors are designed to create divisions and competition which are counterproductive toward building trust. By engaging in these behaviors, we only set out to prove that we are less than worthy of our status as a leader, reverend/priest(ess), healer, lightworker, minister or shaman and so on.
If you didn’t already know, I pay close attention to those who backbite and who complain without taking any action toward solving problems within the community. I also have a HUGE contempt for those who copy the work of others. May it be in art, craftsmanship, business, or (you guessed it) community work.
Your path is about YOU being authentic. Through copying someone else’s hard work, you are giving away your authenticity and validity as a leader. Not to forget you are making yourself out to be a HUGE FAUD.
No, I will not be kind in that statement. It is a truth many need to understand. It is a truth too many tend to overlook for their own personal comfort. Making the choice to rip off someone else’s hard work shows that you are lazy, and not really that dedicated to your cause. When you rip off someone else’s many hours of research, their talents & skills, and the work they put into building something, you effectively eliminate trust. You damage the very trust you should be building instead. As we all know trust once broken is not easily repaired.
When you rip off someone else’s many hours of research, their talents & skills, and the work they put into building something, you effectively eliminate trust. You damage the very trust you should be building instead. As we all know trust once broken is not easily repaired. By taking someone’s efforts without permission and making them your own, you prove what kind of person you really are. You demonstrate to all of us that you have ZERO integrity and you succeed in proving that you are specifically not worthy of calling yourself a leader.
Call it the Elder in me speaking her truth. None-the-less, it the truth. I speak with passion for something I know a lot about. I have seen many bogus leaders cross my path. Some of which I have unknowingly followed. The trail of destruction they leave is devastating for many years beyond their initial digression and it distresses the community on a grand scale. As leaders, we need to understand the consequences of our actions. We must understand that when we defile the trust we are meant to build within the community, we taint ourselves and our intended work.
In the wake of poor choices and laziness, people get hurt. It ripples like a pebble carelessly thrown into a pond. Poor choices create an imbalance. Acts of poor judgment and choices based on personal gain, deplete the community. Selfishness tears holes in the fabric we try to weave together making us all weak and fragmented.
I have heard many times how disappointed people are that our local Pagan community is disjointed and nearly non-existent. I know the exact reason why this has occurred.
EGO! We are so worried about someone else swooping in to steal our thunder we block everyone out. We worry that someone else will do something better. We fear others will reveal our insecurities and flaws. Some of this is for good reason. Our community has shown us all too often that many so-called leaders are not trustworthy. But this lack of unity sends us into a trap of unwarranted suspicion that serves no one.
I can offer several examples of this, old and new. Examples of how my trust in the leaders of our community has been repeatedly quashed and later stomped upon by those who simply don’t care. My experiences have left me with a choice. Do I hide away again and throw up my own impenetrable barriers non-will permeate? Or do I step up and demonstrate to the community how a true communal leader behaves?
As I see it. Hiding away only adds to the problem. We serve no one and solve nothing when we choose to walk away.
The fact is that some people will never change while others seem content in remaining blind to the real issues at hand. Perhaps it is because the reality of what they have done, and perpetuated is too much for them to bear. Looking the other way or denying their wrongdoing seems easier.
Which is why, you and me, the leaders with tightly tuned moral compasses need to step up and become part of the solution.
There is a lot of healing our community needs to go through before it can become better than yesterday. We as leaders need to revisit what is most important and realize that we are the change that needs to happen in this uncertain world.
People are hungry for something they can be a part of. They are hungry for knowledge, guidance, and a place they can call home. People need us to create for them a safety net that will help them recover from trauma, navigate the uncertain, and find a positive direction in their lives.
As spiritual seekers and awakened leaders, we know the path of spiritual growth and enlightenment is not easy. Sometimes it is downright messy. Individuals within our communities need guidance. They need a sense of direction. Our communities need us NOW. They need us to step up and facilitate healing for our community, and they need us to do this with authenticity; so, they too can grow from an authentic place. They need us to be solid
They need us to step up and facilitate healing for our community, and they need us to do this with authenticity; so, they too can grow from an authentic place. They need us to be solid supports for their long journey ahead. They need us (you and me) to have our perspective shit together. We can’t be a mess, distracted, or ignorant to their needs. We must serve with integrity, selflessness, and purpose. We need to be in a place of authenticity so they too can have a solid-authentic foundation to grow upon.
We have a choice at this crossroad of faith and action. Do we remain in the pit of despair and ignorance? The one we have perpetuated over the years, or do we scoop up the hope nestled within the possibilities before us?
We have enormous potential to stand up and be the light in the darkest of rooms. The possibilities are endless so long as we work together to realize them.
Considering my realizations and concerns for our future, I would like to extend to you an invitation. An invitation as a spiritual leader and as a spiritual seeker. I invite you to join us in a new way of creating community.
I invite you to participate in Share Leadership. Leadership that demonstrates the possibilities of our community. Leadership that demonstrates the potential strength of our community. Leadership that firmly grasps the opportunities we have before us. Leadership that provides our starving community the huge helping of hope they desperately need.
I invite you to join us at F.I.R.E. as we look toward creating a new tomorrow and as we build a positive thriving community through trust, transparency, and healing.
While this letter is mostly directed toward leaders and members of my local community, I know it applies to other communities all over the world. Please share this letter in the hopes that it will bring growth and understanding to your fragmented community.
F.I.R.E. Senior Elder