Walking in faith through the valley of shadows – finding the CPA promised land together.

The Denver Members of the cohort discussed the top nine key stakeholders and relational meetings we would like to have in order to build our network.  Each of us took 3 names.  The three relational meetings I will set up are with two leaders in other denominations, the Lutheran community in Colorado and the Methodist leadership in the Denver metro area.  I will also talk with the leadership in a local nonprofit that is a jubilee ministry within the Episcopal Church and works with individuals who are experiencing homelessness.

Since each are faith based, I will share with them elements of my own faith journey as well as my work in economic development.  I will share the journey of how I ended up working on these issues for the diocese, how I feel called by my faith to work with the poor and marginalized and the importance of shifting structures.

One risk will be in sharing my own struggles in working with parishes.  How this is difficult work and often frustrating.  Everyone feels the burden of these current times in the world and especially the United States, and everyone is stretched when it comes to time and resources.  Many church leaders are working for less because their parishes cannot afford to pay them fully.  I will share my own hope and my own sense of exhaustion and struggle to maintain my own faith.

I will ask them about their hopes and the struggles they are having.  I will want to learn about the specific work they are doing in their faith communities.  What do they see as most promising in dealing with struggling churches and struggling communities.  I hope to learn how they are approaching the pressing issues of the day.  Specifically, I am also interested in the Lutheran commitment to being a sanctuary church and the Methodist split on LGBTQIA issues and how they are dealing with this.

I tend to focus on the relational and as a result the necessary transaction issues can be overlooked.  This can bring confusion and frustration.  An example of this today was one of our jubilee ministries felt frustrated that I “had not gotten them grants”.  While this is not part of my job for them, because of our conversations and connections they felt I would be doing this for them.  The important part of both is setting boundaries as well as opening up the space for new possibilities.  I need to grow at setting boundaries, especially around time, while not artificially shutting out new ways of doing things and building new relationships.

I do know people who are good at this, though the ones who I most admire have moved away.  What I see in them, is the ability for self reflection without self shaming.  The ability to speak their truth clearly without fear, to set boundaries, but also to be open through deep listening and being fully present with those whom they encounter.

4 thoughts on “Walking in faith through the valley of shadows – finding the CPA promised land together.”

  1. I am so grateful to be on this journey with you, Paul. Getting this grounding in the CPA approach as a team will help me grow and also gives us some shared language and understanding. My challenge in this work seems to be the opposite of yours — I am heavy on transaction and more deficient on relational. Maybe we can figure out a way to help balance each other?
    As I think about your upcoming meetings, it is clear that you have many things to connect with your faith colleagues about in terms of the challenges inherent in your respective realms. Those conversations sound like they will be very rich and could easily take over the whole meeting. Would creating time parameters for yourself be useful? Maybe even setting a timer for yourself as a place to check in and decide whether shifting to the business issues at hand would be acceptable? Are there other times that you could go into deeper sharing with your colleagues? Will setting clear expectations about the nature of the meeting help allay confusion and frustration? Would it help if you had a clear list of 3-5 business-related questions that you know you want to come away from the meeting with?
    I look forward to comparing notes as we head towards the promised land.

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  2. Paul, your openness and vulnerability and your opening paragraphs is remarkable. Do you see how strong of a strength this is for you? What do you think this affords you as you open up new relationships?

    What do you think led to the colleagues (you mentioned that thought you might give them grants) to the misalignment of expectations?

    Your line: “ability for self reflection without self shaming” really stuck out to me.

    Is there anything new about writing this for you? How does this self-awareness and this naming of this challenge lead you to what is next?

    I love your curiosity and awareness of issues facing your Lutheran and Methodist colleagues.

    Are there challenges you are curious about and suspect they may also be dealing with that are similar to the challenges you are facing with regards to the property / buildings and difficulty maintaining facilities?

    Who are you most in relationship with right now? Who are you most in a relationship with mutual accountability with?
    As you move into this new work, how are you setting expectations appropriately at the initial stage (balancing the big vision with the patience that this hard work takes) and then as you go deeper and get to know each other — develop and evolve into relationships of mutual accountability?

    I like seeing the collaboration between you Michelle and Yessica in this cohort.
    Michelle — great comments & questions here!.
    Paul – Thank you for showing up so vulnerably and meaningfully here.

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  3. Hi, Paul, thank you for your thoughtful post. I can imagine it is very hard to move from the relational to the transactional. I struggle with that, too.

    I’m curious about your mention of being a place of welcome for folks who are LGBTQIA. That is a powerful commitment in any church context. And I’m wondering if you’ve spoken more directly about why that is important to you? You mentioned your faith as the source for why you do your work and I wonder if there is a particular story about faith and being a sanctuary to people who are LGBTQIA that has special meaning for you and/or your community that could help connect people in unexpected ways?

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  4. Reflection Script

    The most impactful thing that stood out for me from the comments and from this past week is the importance of setting clear expectations.

    I realize my willingness to say yes, to be open to what might be possible, can lead to others believing that I can offer more than I actually am able to do. Trying to find the balance of being open to options and wanting to serve and help with being clear about what I can and can’t offer, what my own time and talent capacity is, is something I need to work more intentionally on. I will seek help from colleagues, including those in this cohort.

    This may include being clear that there are no expectations. Sometimes entering into a situation being very clear that whatever comes out of the interaction or the work is fine, even if that is nothing. Just the entering into is powerful and that can sometimes be enough. But everyone needs to enter in with that same expectation.

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