Tag Archives: reflection

Ethics 2

1)  Provide an appropriate definition, discuss your understanding, and provide an illustrative example for the term “ethical dilemma” (minimum 100 words, excluding the definition)

An ethical dilemma is a complex situation that requires a choice to be made between multiple options regarding a course of action, and no matter which course of action is chosen, some ethical principle is compromised (Allen).  Essentially, there is no perfect solution to a situation.  There are both absolute and approximate ethical dilemmas.  An absolute ethical dilemma is one where “two or more ethical standards apply to a situation but are in conflict with each other” (Allen).  A conflict between personal and professional ethics is not an absolute or pure ethical dilemma because it involves personal feelings where the rational processes for solving ethical dilemmas can’t be used for conflicts in values.  So, even though situations where professional ethics and personal values collide are difficult and uncomfortable, they are not absolute ethical dilemmas, but rather approximate dilemmas (Allen).  This means that in order to have a pure or absolute ethical dilemma a situation must require a decision to be made between two conflicting ethical standards from our Clergy Council Code of Ethics.  A situation that presents a conflict between the Clergy Council Code of Ethics and our own Personal Code of Ethics would be an approximate ethical dilemma at best.

I’ve experienced both absolute and approximate ethical dilemmas within the field of education.  When a student confides abuse to me, I am required by state law as well as standard 3.e in the “Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators” to make an official report.  However, standard 5.a in that same Code of Conduct also forbids sharing confidential student information, which is needed to make the report (Ohio Dept. of Education).  Because there is a conflict in the ethical standards put forth in the Code of Conduct for Educators with this situation, it is an absolute ethical dilemma.  There is also an approximate ethical dilemma present in this situation if I fear for the safety of the student if I make the report.  However, the Code of Conduct, as well as the overall continued safety of the child depend on making an accurate report, and thus while both conflicts in ethics and values technically present ethical dilemmas, for me this was not a particularly difficult decision.

2)  Identify, list and briefly explain the steps to a “Problem Solving Process.” Process steps may vary in style depending on student preference and source. (minimum 100 words each step; citation of source for process required)

Many problem-solving processes are similar in their layout of steps to take.  The problem solving process presented by the Global Development Research Center has six steps (Srinivas), as explained below:

1) Define the Problem – The first step is to define what the actual, specific problem is.  This requires those that are involved in the problem solving process to focus in on what the problem is.  When you write down the problem, you are creating a check you can use throughout the rest of the process.  This is also useful for those working through the problem and possible solutions to be sure that they are remaining focused on the problem at hand, and not off shoot or unrelated other problems.  By writing down the problem you are focusing on, you then have a statement you can come back to ensure you’re coming up with as many solutions as possible and that they relate directly to the problem.

2) Analyze the Problem – The next step in the problem solving process is to analyze the problem. This can take a couple of forms, all of which are important.  One analysis should look at the root cause of the problem.  By examining this, you are looking at base issues which may be feeding into the specific issue at hand, and you will also be examine base issues to ensure that the problem won’t repeat itself in another form.  Depending on what you find in this step, you may want to go back to step 1 and redefine your problem.  Another aspect to analyzing the problem is that you want to know what kind of environment the problem exists in, because that will determine what kind of solutions are viable.  This is also the step where you will come up with criteria with which you can evaluate the possible solutions you will come up with in the next steps.

3) Brainstorm Solutions – After cycling through steps 1 and 2, and perhaps revisiting step 1 a number of times in order to determine what the actual problem you’re focusing on is, you will then begin the process of brainstorming solutions.  The important note for this step is that this is not where you will be evaluating their merits, how well they may work, whether they’re viable, whether you like them, or choosing which possible solution to attempt at all.  This is the step where your goal is to come up with as many ways to solve the problem as possible, as off-the-wall as some of them may be.  I would even say that a few off-the-wall ideas are good, because they will encourage thinking outside the box and creativity in the brainstorming process.

4) Analyze Solutions – This next step is similar to step 2, except that you’ll be looking at each of the solutions you brainstormed, rather than the problem you came up with.  This is the step where you will take a close look at each possible solution and define its good and bad points.  You will examine where the places are where it could work well, and where the places are where it has some weaknesses or possibilities for failure.  At this point you are still not yet picking which solution you will use, but rather are examining each individually on it’s own merits.  You may find that this step may circle back around to step 3 as you see specific ways that a solution could be improved.

5) Pick a Solution – In this step you finally go about evaluating each individual solution and ranking them based on usefulness and likelihood that they will work to solve the problem.  This can be done with a yes/no system, a weighted voting system, gut and intuition, or some combination of those.  When you rank all your possible solutions you end up with a smaller list of those you may want to implement.  If you still have too many, it may be worthwhile to refine your ideal requirements so that you end up with less possible solutions to work with.  Ultimately you’ll end up with no, one, or many possible solutions.

6) Plan the Next Steps – In this last step in the problem solving process you’ll be working with the possible solutions you came up with in the previous step.  If you didn’t come up with any working solutions in the previous step, you’ll need to back to at least step 3 and brainstorm more solutions, if not all the way back to step 1 and redefine what your actual problem is.  If you have one or more solutions, you’ll want to decide which solution you’ll try to implement first, and then write out the actual steps for making that happen.  It may include deciding what materials and personnel you need, as well as timeframes for certain things to happen in, and checking each step along the way to be sure it has been done and things are still on track for solving.

3)  Provide the following information for each of the situations described below.

  1. a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum);  b) Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum);  c)Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

Question 3: Situation 1

It is a long-standing tradition within your Grove to pass the Waters of Life using a single vessel for high day celebrations. Your group has always been small and the group at large prefers alcoholic Waters of Life, which is the plan for this high day event. Prior to the beginning the ritual pre-briefing you become aware that several new individuals are in attendance. One of these individuals discusses with a member of your Grove that they learned of your event from a poster in a local Unitarian Universalist Congregation where they attend weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that there may be those present at a ritual who do not drink, or who do  not wish to be pressured to drink.  In our grove we’ve already taken into account this kind of situation to help avoid it.  In general, we simply don’t use alcohol of any variety as the Waters of Life.  Not only do the spaces we rent prohibit alcohol, we also don’t want to put anyone in this type of situation, whether or not we suspect a recovery status or not.  In order to be welcoming to all, including those in recovery and to families and children, we simply don’t use alcohol in the Return Flow.  Other possible solutions to this situation are to offer both alcohol and water in separate vessels, allowing each person to determine which one they will take.  Another possible option would be to explain the various methods of ‘taking in’ the blessing.  At sumbels it is common to hear an explanation that you may drink from the horn, kiss the horn, or pour out a libation on the ground.  All are acceptable.  If we offered options that included alcohol in a ritual, I would be sure to always take a non-alcoholic option to ensure that the folk knew that it was acceptable in practice, and not just in words, to do so.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

There are two main ways my personal Code of Ethics supports my resolution to not offer alcohol as the Waters of Life.  First, because “I will be kind to others” that means that I will ensure that all have the safest space possible in which to experience a relationship with the Kindreds.  This means removing the pressure and stigma of alcohol.  Second, because “I will be a … responsible person,” especially as it pertains to the law, I will not violate the regulations of the spaces that we rent for our rituals (Avende).  In the Clergy Council Code of Ethics, under Integrity, the Priest has a “responsibility to promote inclusivity,” and as such, I think to be inclusive both to those in recovery and to families, we need to allow for changing circumstances that may necessitate us using non-alcoholic beverages for the Waters of Life (ADF Clergy Council).

 c) Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

This is neither a difficult decision for me, nor is it an ethical dilemma.  Not only do I feel that I have a moral imperative to ensure that I make reasonable accommodations for all ritual attendees in order to ensure that they all have the ability to experience joy and a relationship with the Kindreds, my personal Code of Ethics specifically supports the decision to use a non-alcoholic option in this case, and the ADF Clergy Council Code of ethics empowers me to use my best judgment to make this decision.  This is neither an approximate nor an absolute ethical dilemma.

Question 3: Situation 2

While meeting with a couple to plan a hand-fasting ritual you have been asked to facilitate, you notice one of the partners continually makes all of the decisions concerning the ceremony and refuses to let his/her partner participate in the discussion. When you encourage the silent partner to participate the other individual becomes obviously agitated. You notice several bruises on the silent partner legs and arms and he/she appears afraid to express any thoughts and ideas. Following the discussion, you receive a phone call from the silent partner apologizing for the conduct of his/her partner. The wedding is a month away and the couple has written an oath for the ceremony that professes a desire for a healthy relationship and equal partnership. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that presumably one of the partners is being physically, and also perhaps emotionally, abused by the other.  When I analyze this problem, I find that it is outside both my skill set and comfort zone to address the issues at hand.  My response after speaking with the couple would likely be to inform them that I was unavailable on their preferred wedding date, and to refer them to the other local ADF priest in the community who I know has a better ability to cope with this situation than I do.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

The decision to refer this particular situation on to a fellow priest within my own ethics comes from a place of integrity.  When I am a “responsible and independent person” it means that I know my own skill sets and my own limits, and do my best to not exceed those limits.  When I “am loyal” it means that when I don’t know, or in this case, can’t do, something, I will find someone who can (Avende).  The decision to refer this particular situation on to a fellow priest within the Clergy Council ethics comes from the concept of *ghosti and the concept of Competency.  Because a priest may refuse service to anyone, and “will make every reasonable effort to refer the individual to other options for that service,” I will refer to a fellow priest who I believe has the skill set to manage the situation.  I will do so because I recognize that I have strengths and weaknesses and that I will “work within those realizations” (ADF Clergy Council).

c)  Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

While this is a difficult decision for me because I feel like I want to be able to help, it is not in fact an ethical dilemma because both my personal Code of Ethics and the Code of Ethics for the Clergy Council require me to not handle a case that is outside of skill set when I have the ability to refer the case to one who is better qualified and I have a reasonable expectation that they could help.  Because the Clergy Council Code of Ethics specifically allows for a Priest to refuse services, particularly as long as they refer the client to someone else, this solution to the situation is not an ethical dilemma, despite being a difficult decision requiring me to know myself well.

Question 3: Situation 3

You are facilitating a children’s activity concerning the 9 virtues and the Kindred for your Grove. A ten-year old child approaches you during the activity and says, “Can I tell you a secret?” You let the child talk and he tells you that his stepmother, who is an active member of your Grove, doesn’t follow the virtues or care about the Kindred. You ask him why he believes this and he tells you, “Because if she did she wouldn’t hurt me!” Once more you ask the child what he means and he shows you a horseshoe-shaped belt mark on his back and says, “Don’t tell anyone.” The father and stepmother are in the next room at an adult workshop. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that there is child abuse occurring, specifically that it is occurring within my religious community.  The only acceptable solution to this problem is to make a report to Child Protective Services.  The fact that I suspect abuse at all means that I am obligated to make a report both by my own ethics and by law.  Possible methods could involve making the report immediately with the child in the room, or waiting until the meeting is over and making the report after.  From experience and training in education, the process I would follow would be to inform the child that I am there to support them, that I believe them, and that this requires me to report the suspicion to children’s services. I would not inform the parents that I was making the report, because I do not have the expertise on dealing with safety of the child once the parents know, whereas Children’s Protective Services does.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

The decision to make a report to Children’s Protective Services fits with my personal Code of Ethics because “I will be a … responsible person,” especially as it pertains to the law (Avende).  I am a mandated reporter according to Ohio Law, and as such, if I suspect abuse, I am obligated to report it.  Relatedly, the decision to make a report to Children’s Protective Services in response to this situation fit with the Clergy Council Code of Ethics because according to the principle of *ghosti “privileged communications … are considered confidential information … subject to limitation only by … applicable law” (ADF Clergy Council).   Again, because I am a mandated reporter, even though the child asked me not to tell anyone, I am required by law to report the suspicion.

 c)  Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

Because my personal Code of Ethics contains a point stating that “I will be loyal” and goes on to explain that “I will maintain the confidence of those who have trusted me to hold space with them” but also states that “I will be a … responsible person,” especially as it pertains to the law (Avende), along with the clause in the Clergy Council Code of Ethics that contradicts my own confidential point with it’s exceptions, this is technically an approximate ethical dilemma because it points out a discrepancy between my professional and personal ethics.  Nevertheless, it is not a difficult decision for me.  If for some reason I didn’t believe that reporting child abuse was in the best interest of the child, perhaps it would be a difficult decision in addition to being an approximate ethical dilemma, but as I believe my reporting provides the best support and safety for the child, and follows the law, the decision for me to report is easy.

Question 3: Situation 4

A young woman from your local Neo-Pagan community contacts you and expresses a desire to attend your Grove’s upcoming high day; however, she explains that she is in a wheel chair and has an uncontrolled seizure disorder. Another local Neo-Pagan group had explained to this individual that they were unable to accommodate her needs at this time. The young woman plans to bring her personal care attendant with her, but the attendant is opposed to Neo-Pagan beliefs and does not want to actually participate in the service and plans to wait outside the ritual area. Your regular outside ritual space is not readily handicap accessible and the ritual is planned for this outdoor space. What do you do?

a)  Explain how you would utilize your problem solving process to resolve the situation. Discuss an effective resolution and why you believe the resolution would be effective (100 words minimum)

The problem that I identify in this situation is that the ritual space does not meet the woman’s needs.  This is an issue of accessibility.  Possible solutions may include telling the woman that we can’t accommodate her needs, moving or rearranging the current ritual space, or telling the woman that on this short notice we don’t have the ability to accommodate her needs, but will need time to make the space accessible to her wheelchair and invite her to the next public ritual.  While the second option is the best option, if the space is already not handicap accessible, the likelihood of our Grove being able to make it so without switching locations on short notice (near impossible to do in our parks system) is very unlikely.  Therefore, the most likely solution for this situation is to discuss with the woman what specific accessibility needs she has (ramps, distance from parking lot, etc.) and arrange for those accommodations to be made at the next ritual.  Even if this particular woman does not show up again, it is an important modification to make regardless.

b)  Discuss how your personal Code of Ethics was utilized in the resolution of the issue presented. (100 words minimum)

My own personal Code of Ethics relates to my resolution regarding this situation in a couple of ways.  First, “I will lead others to the flame” means in part that I will do what I am able to do in order to ensure that all can experience the relationship they desire with the Kindreds.  Second, “I will be kind to someone.” This situation goes beyond mere kindness in my opinion and is more akin to civil rights.  Being kind means that I will grant all basic human rights to individuals, and this means as a Priest I should provide access to a person’s desire to experience this spirituality as much as I am able (Avende).  My decision relates to the Clergy Council Code of Ethics in multiple aspects.  Under Service, “The Priest has a responsibility to provide service to the Folk.”  This does not specify which Folk are worthy of expending the effort to provide service.  Additionally, the Clergy Council Code of Ethics specifically focuses on non-discrimination, stating “The Priest has a responsibility to promote inclusivity, diversity, and non-discrimination; additionally, our clergy should promote the respect, self-worth, and dignity of individuals” (ADF Clergy Council).  This means that we have a duty to make an attempt to provide reasonable accommodations for all members and potential members of our community.

c)  Discuss whether you would consider the situation to be an “ethical dilemma?” Why or why not? (100 words minimum)

This is not an ethical dilemma because it doesn’t conflict with either my personal Code of Ethics or with the Clergy Council Code of Ethics.  This may be a difficult situation, depending on what kind of accommodations are needed, and it may be an awkward conversation with both the woman, and perhaps with her non-Pagan caretaker, but it is not an ethical dilemma.  Every person has a right to pursue the spiritual path that they feel called to, and they have a right to expect reasonable accommodation to be made for that if they have a disability.  It may take some work and some time to figure out how to meet those needs, but it is not an ethical dilemma. 

Works Cited

ADF Clergy Council. “ADF Clergy Council Code of Ethics.” Adf.org, Ár nDraíocht Féin, 9 Oct. 2011,www.adf.org/system/files/members/org/clergy-council/adf-clergy-code-of-ethics.pdf. Accessed 13 Sept. 2016.

Allen, Karen, Ph.D, LMSW. “What Is an Ethical Dilemma?” SocialWorker.com, 22 Dec. 2013, www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/ethics-articles/what_is_an_ethical_dilemma%3f/. Accessed 12 Sept. 2016.

Avende, Rev. Jan. “Thoughts on Virtues and Ethics.” Mist to Open. Mists to Bind, 4 Sept. 2015, hellenicdruid.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/thoughts-on-virtues-and-ethics/. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

“Licensure Code of Professional Conduct for Ohio Educators.” Ohio Department of Education, 11 Mar. 2008, education.ohio.gov/getattachment/topics/teaching/educator-conduct/licensure-code-of-professional-conduct-for-ohio-ed/licensure-code-of-professional-conduct.pdf.aspx. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Srinivas, Hari. “The Problem Solving Process.” The Problem Solving Process, The Global Development Research Center, www.gdrc.org/decision/problem-solve.html. Accessed 14 Sept. 2016.

Leaders are Always Growing

This is excerpted from my Leadership Development course, and refers to what I see as my own strengths and weaknesses as a leader, particularly as a leader within ADF.

When considering how I fit within the context of leadership in ADF, especially as it pertains to the organization as a whole and its members, I think I am strongest in Strategy, Shared Values, and Strengths/Skills.  I have ideas how to keep moving us forward as a religion, and work to implement them, especially on a local level, with my peers.  I identify strongly with ADFs Shared Values as stated in our Mission and Vision statements, and work to align my personal work with those shared values.  I think the greatest strength of our church is our individual members.  Everyone has something to bring to the table, and we can grow stronger as an organization by using these skills and making sure all feel like valued and contributing members.

I still have a lot I think I can improve on in Staff, Systems, and Style, as it relates to leadership.  Because Staff refers to the people within an organization, and the general skill sets that they all have, I think that, although I am a people-person, this is someone that every one of us can continually improve on.  I’ve been trying to make a point of making myself available to people who don’t have a local community.  I spend time following and engaging in conversations with folks who I’m unfamiliar with, especially when they are seeking help, advice, or just other like-minded people practicing Druidry. I also do my best to make it to rituals at others groves, and to festivals, though I recognize that they are only a very small percentage of our membership, and so it must be coupled with distance communication with solitary and faraway members.

Because I believe our greatest strength as an organization is the people who are in it, I think it’s absolutely vital to continually get to know those people, and make sure that they have the opportunity to become familiar with me, and know that I’m someone they can reach out to at any point without fear of awkwardness or judgment. I love discussing Our Druidry with people, so I want continue to learn about the individuals of our membership: what their path is looking like, where they want to go, how to help them get there, what they’re carrying with them (skills, knowledge, burdens) on the journey.  I’m an extrovert most of the time, but prefer in depth one on one conversations, so in order to improve this particular Leadership Skill I need to be cognizant of my inclination to want to continue long in depth conversations with people I know, and be able and willing to step outside that comfort zone and make myself available to others.

As far as improving Systems, I think there is a lot to be done as far as the organization itself is concerned to improve these, and I have ideas on how to help.  I can improve this by continuing to follow my vocation and drive, and work on not sitting quietly, but instead taking a more active role in the changes that can and are happening.  I see our study programs continuing to grow and evolve as we get more members, and more specialized knowledge.  I see those study courses each having a rubric, both to help the student as they’re writing, and to help the reviewer as they are evaluating.  Most of all, I see more active work happening as far as creation of useful materials for members, especially solitaries.  The more practical and supplemental help we can provide for those walking the path of Our Druidry, like prayers, ritual scripts, meditations, tools, and other ideas, the better.  The focus here is on contributing more towards improving the Systems that allow each individual member to more fully and accessibly experience Our Druidry.

Because I tend to be rather quiet (indirect and reserved) in many situations within ADF, in order to improve my leadership Style, what I need to work on most here is navigating when to flex that style.  I need to work on flexing from indirect to direct so that my voice gets heard and taken seriously amongst all the other loud, forceful, and passionate voices.  I also need to work on allowing my outgoing side to take precedence more often in non-in-person scenarios.  It isn’t often a problem when I am with other people and conversing in-person.  However, since due to the small and spread out nature of our organization, online and other distance communications are more regularly used, and in those situations I tend towards reserved.  So working on being more outgoing when communicating over distance is another area of focused improvement for this.

What Makes a Good Leader in ADF?

This is excerpted from my Leadership Development course, which, as a whole, I found fascinating and useful in many different parts of my life.

When I think of leadership, the image that is in the forefront of my mind is the one where the leader is reaching down to pull others up the mountain. I think, above anything else, our job as leaders is ensure that we have a healthy community.  There are many other things that go into it, of course, but you can’t be a leader of none.  Leadership is service, especially in the context of an ADF Priest.

boss-leader-difference-climbing-a-mountain (“Boss Leader”)

Some of the qualities and skills that go into being a good leader are a strong focus on introspection and self-reflection, being aware of and knowledgeable about your community and members, and assuming positive intent.

When talking about introspection and self-reflection begin integral to leadership, there are many reasons why.  When we work understand ourselves, we are able to not only engage in self-care, but are also better able to understand others.  Self-reflection is important when dealing with potential burnout in yourself.  You need to know when you’ve been pushing yourself too hard, and allow yourself a time out to kindle your own flame.  You must keep your own flame bright, or you cannot show others it’s light.

You need self-reflection as well because you need to be aware that your words and your actions have weight, and you must be careful how you use that weight and influence. If others view you as a leader, then they are more likely to ascribe more weight to your words.

Introspection and self-reflection also allow you to continue to expand your worldview, and reach an understanding with multiple viewpoints.  Be engaging in introspection, you can allow your views to continually change as needed to be adaptable to the situations at hand.  You are better equipped to remain nonjudgmental in the face of adversity.  You are more able to be as Teutates, the Gentle Gardener and Tender of the Tribe, and help new, innovative, and strong ideas to blossom and grow.

As a leader, you must be aware or your staff and their skill sets.  This is a two-fold need for leaders.  Not only does it allow you to know whom you can lean on for support, especially if you are pushing up against burnout, but it also means that you know the potential of the future.  You will know who, and how, to build up and encourage those skilled individuals towards leadership.

Last, but certainly not least, it is important for leaders to assume positive intent, not nefarious motivations, in others.  Oftentimes leaders are so passionate about their work that they get caught up in the details of the process, and can sometimes lose sight of the vision, of the bigger picture.  It is vitally important for the health of the team and the larger community that the leader assumes we are all working towards the same bright vision, and though we may have different ideas on how to achieve it, each person is honestly doing their best.

Leadership Development 1

Leadership Development 1

1)  Define consensus and collaboration in your own words, give an example of how each can be applied in a grove setting, and explain which you prefer and why. (min. 250 words)

 Consensus: noun

1) majority of opinion;

2) general agree or concord; harmony

collaboration: noun

1) the action of working with someone to produce or create something.

2) traitorous cooperation with an enemy.

Consensus is when, in a group setting, all the members of the group come together to make a decision on a specific issue, action, or situation.  While consensus doesn’t have to be unanimous (though it can be) it is often the result of common thought and compromise.  The connotation of consensus implies that while not everyone may agree on all points unequivocally, they are in general agreement with and can accept the decision.  Consensus can be used in a grove setting where the group is brainstorming ideas for new projects, since that is a situation where ideas and issues can be brought up early on, so as to not interfere with the decision making process too much.  We use consensus when we write the new stanza for our grove poem each year.  Everyone can contribute new ideas, and then we mix them until everyone agrees.  Poetry by committee is entertaining to the say the least, and somewhat exemplifies why I prefer collaboration to consensus.  Consensus takes a long time, involves more compromise than is necessarily good, can be hung up by a single person who can’t or won’t agree to the compromises, an can leave less direct individuals feeling like their opinion and voice wasn’t heard.

Collaboration is when a small group comes together, often guided by a lead member, to create something or solve a problem that has arisen.  It involves taking input from many sources and encouraging creativity and new ideas.  It is most often goal driven, and the teams involved in collaboration may change based on what needs to be done.  A grove can use collaboration when planning rituals.  We often use the system of ritual teams, where we have a Druid-in-Charge (laity), a Priest-in-Charge, and 2-3 supporting ritual team members. This ritual team plans, writes, and assigns out parts for each of our high day rituals.   I prefer collaboration to consensus because it allows a small group to come together to focus on tackling a specific project.  There are less personalities involved, making the process smoother, and because the focus is more often on solving a problem, or entertaining multiple creative ideas in order to find a good outcome, rather than on finding something everyone can agree to, there is less hurt on a personal level.

 

2)  Describe the following traits of leadership.  Describe the types which best fit you. (minimum 100 words for each trait, and 100 words for the self-description)

There are Four Traits of leadership, with each trait divided into two opposing preferences.  These preferences are expressed on a continuum, with most people falling somewhere between the two extremes.

Influencing

The Influencing Trait ranges from Indirect to Direct, and qualifies how you express thoughts, present ideas, and assert yourself.  It has to do with communication.  It is not a measure of how influential someone is, but refers how they prefer to go about influencing others.  The Influencing Trait does not measure assertiveness, power, or self-confidence (Handley “Training” 17-8).

a) Direct – A direct style of influencing involves straightforward talk and body language.  The direct individual is willing to debate ideas, is confident and self-assured, and tends to tell people what to do, rather than ask them.  They are bold, and will say exactly what they mean without dancing around the topic.  A direct individual is good at taking charge, especially in situations that need a clear direction or someone to take point on decision-making.  They are good at getting issues out in the open, especially issues that other more indirect individuals may feel more hesitant abut broaching.  They are good at encouraging frank discussion of issues, and encourage all participants to lay all their cards on the table.  Direct individuals need to be conscious of how blunt they are being, as well as how much air time they are using.  Are they allowing other more indirect individuals openings and opportunities to talk, engage in discussions, and be heard? (Handley “Training”26-34)

b) Indirect – An indirect style of influence involves more diplomacy than a direct style of influence.  The indirect individual is more likely to be intimately aware of how their word choice, phrasing, and timing will effect their communication and ability to influence someone to their way of thinking.  They are tactful, modest, and approachable people, often open to negotiation and hearing multiple sides of an issue before nudging the conversation in the direction they want to see it going.  Indirect individuals use a supportive approach, guiding conversation so that others think ideas are theirs, and then supporting them in making that idea reality.  They are likely to present their ideas in an unassuming, often Socratic, manner.  They will ask for tasks to be done rather than telling people to do them. They are good at facilitating discussion and mediating conflicts.  Indirect individuals need to be conscious of their unassuming nature and diplomacy to be sure they don’t drift into the realm of manipulation.  They should also be aware that their gentle approach may be mistaken for a lack of confidence in their opinions, and sometimes not worthy of consideration because of that (Handley “Training”18-25).

Responding

The Responding Trait ranges from Reserved to Outgoing, and qualifies how you approach and respond to others, particularly groups.  In other personality tests this is the same scale that measures introversion and extroversion. (Handley “Training” 35).

c) Reserved -A reserved style of responding describes an individual who prefers deep one-on-one discussions and prefers to have the time to thoroughly think out their responses to people before voicing an opinion.  They tend to be quiet in large groups, but very engaged in small groups.  They recharge from stress by taking time for themselves.  In addition to their style of verbally communicating, they also tend to have reserved body language, minimized facial expressions, and use few gestures.  This doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling emotions, but rather that they don’t tend to show those emotions publicly.  Reserved individuals often do not share a lot about themselves, and may take a long time to build a trusting relationship with and get to know. One thing that is important to note is that the reserved trait is not the same as shyness or lack of self-esteem.  A reserved individual just doesn’t talk when they don’t feel like talking, and tends to abhor small talk (Handley “Training” 35-42).

d) Outgoing – An outgoing style of responding describes an individual who on other personality scales is often referred to as “extroverted.”  They tend to be talkative and enjoy group settings.  When working through issues and problems, they are far more likely to talk out the issue, rather than think it over by themselves in order to clarify how they feel.  They are more likely to verbally process information. They recharge from stress by finding like-minded people to be around, discuss their stresses with, and generally socialize and connect with people. Outgoing individuals are open and expressive, and the often use large gestures when communicating. They stay in contact with friends, family, and acquaintances easily and frequently, and are good at making others feel at ease around them (Handley “Training” 43-48).

Pacing

The Pacing Trait ranges from Urgent to Steady, and qualifies the speed at which you make decisions and take action.  It has to do with how an individual goes about their tasks.  It is not a measure of energy level, soundness of decision-making skills, or productivity.  To judge those qualities it is more useful to look at how dedicated and motivated an individual is (Handley “Training” 49-50).

e) Urgent -An urgent style of pacing describes an individual who is able to make quick decision by considering only the most important information.   Too many choices and alternative options don’t bog them down because they prioritize importance well.  They are able to act quickly and easily adapt to change.  Urgent individuals do well in leadership roles that have many short-term projects.  They are good at jumping at opportunities as they arise and working with many projects at the same time.  They can move an organization quickly towards a goal.  Because they are quick to react, they do need to be aware of how their emotions and frustration effect their communication, as they are often described as having short fuses (Handley “Training” 50-56).

 f) Steady -A steady style of pacing describes an individual who is persistent, deliberate, and loyal.  They are not slow, but rather carefully consider as many options as possible before making a decision, and are not impulsive.  They would rather be sure that all research has been done well, and are willing to wait for other options to open up, rather than jump to a hasty conclusion. Steady individual have an excellent long view, and are good at seeing the bigger picture and how cascading decisions may play out down the road.  They do well with long-term projects that require careful research, and more easily overcome boredom associated with drawn out tasks.  They have long fuses, and are slow to get emotional and frustrated about situations, but also often have long memories when they do reach a breaking point. They often appear easy going, calm, and amiable (Handley “Training” 57-64).

Organizing

The Organizing Trait ranges from Unstructured to Precise, and how you structure time, organize tasks, and handle details.  It has a lot to do with task achievement and how details for completing those tasks are managed.  It is not a measure of performance, results, or quality, which are better predicted by intelligence, experience, and motivation  (Handley “Training” 65).

g) Unstructured – An unstructured style of organizing describes an individual who prefers flexibility, diving straight into projects and tasks, and is focused on the outcome rather than the process.  They are good at coping with rapidly changing environments and are creative at finding new and different solutions to projects.  They often will let little tasks pile up, but are good at taking care of emergency things right away.  They are also good sources for creative thinking, and can function well in disorganized environments.  They prefer to be given a task and then turned loose to solve it.  As leaders, they trust their team to get the job done, and will just expect the results at the end.  Unstructured individuals need to be aware when a task and process has been well researched and if it would be better to follow the set guidelines to save themselves trouble, or if something is new and different, and their approach will be a good opportunity to discover new ways to do things (Handley “Training” 65-72).

 h) Precise -A precise style of organizing describes an individual who prefers to have a schedule and structure to how they manage time, tasks, and details.  They are timely in their work and feedback, and seek to carefully schedule and plan.  They have a method for each thing that needs to be done, and systems in place to make them more efficient in their work.  Precise individuals see organization as a priority because it will allow everything else to flow smoothly.  The seek order in their tasks and situations, and prefer predictability to change.  They seek to improve systems and policies to benefit organizations as a whole (Handley “Training” 73-79).

Self-Description – I lean heavily toward being and steady and structured individual no matter what the situation is.  Interestingly, in the professional world I tend towards being direct and reserved, but in my personal life I am the reverse of that, tending to be indirect and outgoing.  These results are from taking the insight inventory for myself, and I certainly have a spectrum of traits. Within ADF I seem to be steady, structured, indirect, and then I flex pretty easily between reserved and outgoing as needed by the situation, though I am more frequently reserved in my leadership capacity within the organization (Handley “Interpretive”).

All of this together means that my strengths as a leader are my ability: to facilitate discussions without letting my personal thoughts and emotions get involved; to carefully phrase comments to present ideas in a non-conflicting manner; to do a lot of listening and let others talk more than me; to hold information confidential; to make others feel important and valued; to understand and empathize with the variety of factors that may be influencing peoples lives; to keep an open mind to alternative methods and solutions; to bring order and structure to disorganized or chaotic situations; and to see and establish ways to improve systems and policies that help make work flow more smoothly (Handley “Training” 2-5).

 

3)  Define the seven primary skills of leadership.

These seven primary skills of leadership are based on the McKinsey 7S Model.  They are divided into Hard and Soft skills.  The hard skills are Strategy, Structure, and Systems, and are typically easier to define and management can directly influence them.  The soft skills are Shared Values, Strengths/Skills, Style, and Staff, and are less tangible and more influenced by culture within the organization.  The idea is that for an organization to perform well, these elements need to be aligned and will reinforce each other (Mind Tools).

Strategy – This is the plan to move the organization forward.  In ADF it includes the plan to keep us a viable public neo-pagan religion, as far as how we provide training, run our business, and gain and retain our members.

Structure – This is the way the organization is structured on all levels; the hierarchy or who reports to whom.

Systems – These are the standard operating procedures for the organization.  The things in place to keep tasks running smoothly.

Shared Values – These are the core values of the organization as seen in the work ethic and culture of the organization.  Within ADF, this can be seen in our Vision and Mission Statement, as well as how various members interact with the subgroups and organization as a whole.

Strengths/Skills – These are the skills and competencies of each individual person within the organization.  Within ADF, we have a huge variety of skilled individuals who all bring something to contribute to the table.

Style – This refers to the style of leadership within the organization.  This varies within ADF depending on who the leader is in each specific role.

Staff – This refers to the people within the organization and the general skill sets they all have.  For ADF, this can refer to each individual member and how their presence strengthens us as an organization.

a) Identify the three skills that you are strongest in.

I think I am strongest in Strategy, Shared Values, and Strengths/Skills.  I have ideas how to keep moving us forward as a religion, and work to implement them, especially on a local level, with my peers.  I identify strongly with ADFs Shared Values as stated in our Mission and Vision statements, and work to align my personal work with those shared values.  I think the greatest strength of our church is our individual members.  Everyone has something to bring to the table, and we can grow stronger as an organization by using these skills and making sure all feel like valued and contributing members.

b)  Identify the three you are the weakest in and explain how you plan to improve these skills  (min. 400 words describing improvement outlined in section “b” of this question)

I think I could use the most improvement in Staff, Systems, and Style.

Because Staff refers to the people within an organization, and the general skill sets that they all have, I think that, although I am a people-person, this is someone that every one of us can continually improve on.  I’ve been trying to make a point of making myself available to people who don’t have a local community.  I spend time following and engaging in conversations with folks who I’m unfamiliar with, especially when they are seeking help, advice, or just other like-minded people practicing Druidry. I also do my best to make it to rituals at others groves, and to festivals, though I recognize that they are only a very small percentage of our membership, and so it must be coupled with distance communication with solitary and faraway members.

Because I believe our greatest strength as an organization is the people who are in it, I think it’s absolutely vital to continually get to know those people, and make sure that they have the opportunity to become familiar with me, and know that I’m someone they can reach out to at any point without fear of awkwardness or judgment. I love discussing Our Druidry with people, so I want continue to learn about the individuals of our membership: what their path is looking like, where they want to go, how to help them get there, what they’re carrying with them (skills, knowledge, burdens) on the journey.  I’m an extrovert most of the time, but prefer in depth one on one conversations, so in order to improve this particular Leadership Skill I need to be cognizant of my inclination to want to continue long in depth conversations with people I know, and be able and willing to step outside that comfort zone and make myself available to others.

As far as improving Systems, I think there is a lot to be done as far as the organization itself is concerned to improve these, and I have ideas on how to help.  I can improve this by continuing to follow my vocation and drive, and work on not sitting quietly, but instead taking a more active role in the changes that can and are happening.  I see our study programs continuing to grow and evolve as we get more members, and more specialized knowledge.  I see those study courses each having a rubric, both to help the student as they’re writing, and to help the reviewer as they are evaluating.  Most of all, I see more active work happening as far as creation of useful materials for members, especially solitaries.  The more practical and supplemental help we can provide for those walking the path of Our Druidry, like prayers, ritual scripts, meditations, tools, and other ideas, the better.  The focus here is on contributing more towards improving the Systems that allow each individual member to more fully and accessibly experience Our Druidry.

Because I tend to be rather quiet (indirect and reserved) in many situations within ADF, in order to improve my leadership Style, what I need to work on most here is navigating when to flex that style.  I need to work on flexing from indirect to direct so that my voice gets heard and taken seriously amongst all the other loud, forceful, and passionate voices.  I also need to work on allowing my outgoing side to take precedence more often in non-in-person scenarios.  It isn’t often a problem when I am with other people and conversing in-person.  However, since due to the small and spread out nature of our organization, online and other distance communications are more regularly used, and in those situations I tend towards reserved.  So working on being more outgoing when communicating over distance is another area of focused improvement for this.

 

4)  Define the stages of burnout. Identify how you can utilize the strengths and skills of team members to avoid burnout in yourself and others. (minimum 200 words)

People who are involved in helping professions, like teaching, social work, medicine, and clergy work, face significantly higher risks for burnout.  Often this is because they got into those fields of work because they are very passionate.  However, the very fact that they care deeply, were ‘on fire’, puts them at greater risk for burnout (Hatfield).

Burnout is defined as “a debilitating psychological condition brought about by unrelieved work stress, resulting in:

  • Depleted energy and emotional exhaustion
  • Lowered resistance to illness
  • Increased depersonalization in interpersonal relationships
  • Increased dissatisfaction and pessimism
  • Increased absenteeism and work inefficiency” (Hatfield)

There are many different ways to divide up the stages of Burnout, however Hatfield and Gray, using the work of Veninga and Spradley, break burnout into the following five stages:

Stage 1: Honeymoon – The honeymoon stage is the baseline stage.  This is where you have high job satisfaction, and even though there are stresses in the job, you develop coping strategies to manage them.

Stage 2: Balancing Act – In this stage you begin to notice that some days are better than others at your job, and how you’re dealing with the stresses varies day to day.  There is a noticeable increase in job dissatisfaction, work inefficiency, fatigue and trouble sleeping, and engaging in various escapist activities.

Stage 3: Chronic Symptoms – In this stage, some of the same things that became noticeable in the Balancing Act Stage intensify, including chronic exhaustion, physical illness, and anger and/or depression.

Stage 4: Crisis – At this point, the symptoms from the previous two stages as they relate to your work life become critical and spread even further into all aspects of your life.  The physical symptoms of burnout intensify or increase in number, you’re constantly obsessing over the frustrations with your job, you’re pessimistic and full of self-doubt, and you seek ways to just get out.

Stage 5: Enmeshment – In the enmeshment stage, the symptoms of severe burnout are so entangled in your life that you’re more likely to be diagnosed as having some other physical or mental ailment, than you are to be labeled as a burnout case (Hatfield).

Burnout is a serious problem in organizations, and especially in those organizations that are involved in the business of helping people.  According to Maslach and Leiter, burnout occurs when there are mismatches between the nature of the job and the nature of the person doing the job (Maslach 9).  Often the value of the worker, the human, comes far behind the value of the job itself, especially when money is involved.  These mismatches happen when we feel overloaded, when we lack control over what we do, when we are not rewarded for our work, when we’re experiencing a breakdown in community, when we aren’t treated fairly, and when we’re dealing with conflicting values.  Burnout is an erosion of the soul, as we lose value, dignity, spirit, and will, and the further it goes, the more difficult it is to recover from.  People who are burned out become exhausted, cynical, and ineffective (Maslach 9-17).

Dealing with and preventing burnout is a team effort. Because burnout is a problem with the social environment of the job, there needs to be a shift in culture to help prevent and treat burnout.  Burnout says a lot about the conditions that workers are in, and it is not the individual that needs to change, but rather the organization as a whole (Maslach 18-21). The steps to navigate the process often start with one person sharing their dissatisfaction and gathering a group together to work on coming up with ways to solve burnout factors.  They then connect those proposed solutions to the organization as a whole and work to affect the related mismatches that are causing burnout.  And, because things in the work keep changing, the outcome of this process remains a process, continuing to work towards reducing the burnout factors for those in the organization (Maslach 79-83).

If you are experiencing burnout, you can lean on your team members for support in dealing with the job stressors when you’re in the early stages of burnout, but in order to mitigate the underlying problem, and not just the symptoms, a team effort is needed.  It can start with you as an individual, but will need to progress with the support of a team, and the organization as a whole, to continue to help manage the reasons burnout is occurring.

 

5)  Using the information you have learned in this course, what do you feel makes a person an effective leader in ADF? (min. 200 words)

When I think of leadership, the image that is in the forefront of my mind is the one where the leader is reaching down to pull others up the mountain. I think, above anything else, our job as leaders is ensure that we have a healthy community.  There are many other things that go into it, of course, but you can’t be a leader of none.  Leadership is service, especially in the context of an ADF Priest.

boss-leader-difference-climbing-a-mountain (“Boss Leader”)

Some of the qualities and skills that go into being a good leader are a strong focus on introspection and self-reflection, being aware of and knowledgeable about your community and members, and assuming positive intent.

When talking about introspection and self-reflection begin integral to leadership, there are many reasons why.  When we work understand ourselves, we are able to not only engage in self-care, but are also better able to understand others.  Self-reflection is important when dealing with potential burnout in yourself.  You need to know when you’ve been pushing yourself too hard, and allow yourself a time out to kindle your own flame.  You must keep your own flame bright, or you cannot show others it’s light.

You need self-reflection as well because you need to be aware that your words and your actions have weight, and you must be careful how you use that weight and influence. If others view you as a leader, then they are more likely to ascribe more weight to your words.

Introspection and self-reflection also allow you to continue to expand your worldview, and reach an understanding with multiple viewpoints.  Be engaging in introspection, you can allow your views to continually change as needed to be adaptable to the situations at hand.  You are better equipped to remain nonjudgmental in the face of adversity.  You are more able to be as Teutates, the Gentle Gardener and Tender of the Tribe, and help new, innovative, and strong ideas to blossom and grow.

As a leader, you must be aware or your staff and their skill sets.  This is a two-fold need for leaders.  Not only does it allow you to know whom you can lean on for support, especially if you are pushing up against burnout, but it also means that you know the potential of the future.  You will know who, and how, to build up and encourage those skilled individuals towards leadership.

Last, but certainly not least, it is important for leaders to assume positive intent, not nefarious motivations, in others.  Oftentimes leaders are so passionate about their work that they get caught up in the details of the process, and can sometimes lose sight of the vision, of the bigger picture.  It is vitally important for the health of the team and the larger community that the leader assumes we are all working towards the same bright vision, and though we may have different ideas on how to achieve it, each person is honestly doing their best.

 

Works Cited:

“Boss Leader Difference Climbing a Mountain.” StareCat.com. N.p., 24 Mar. 2015. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <http://starecat.com/boss-leader-difference-climbing-a-mountain/>.

“collaboration.” Dictionary.com. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

“consensus.” Dictionary.com. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.

Handley, Patrick, Ph.D. “Interpretive Guide.” Insight Inventory. Insight Institute, 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2016. <http://www.insightinstitute.com/successcenter/manuals-guides/eInsight/ Participant-booklet-2012-V12.indd/index.html>.

Handley, Patrick, Ph.D. “Training Guide.” Insight Inventory. Insight Institute, 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 2016. <http://www.insightinstitute.com/successcenter/manuals-guides/Insight-Training-G-2012.indb/index.html#/18/>.

Hatfield, Tim, Ph.D., and Lee Gray, Ed.D. “Burnout.” Stress Management Website. Winona State University, 18 May 1998. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. <http://www.winona.edu/stress/ 9Burnout.HTML>.

Maslach, Christina, and Michael P. Leiter. The Truth about Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do about It. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1997. Print.

Mind Tools Editorial Team. “The McKinsey 7-S Framework.” Mind Tools. Mind Tools Ltd., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2016. <https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newSTR_91.htm>.

 

Things No One Told You About Being a Priest

There are a lot of things about being a priest that aren’t in any of the training, and that you really only learn or experience once you’re on that path.  This is an ever-evolving list of things that have surprised me, that I’ve learned and experienced, and that I’ve reflected on since becoming clergy.  They’re not really organized in any particular order.  Perhaps at some point I’ll organize them, or write more deeply about some of them.  I have bolded a few of the more important ones, or at least the ones that I keep coming back to.

If you are thinking about the clergy path, or are already on it (at whatever point in your journey you may  be), please, feel free to reach out to me.  I know that I process best when I have conversations with others, and like talking about these issues.  So, no need to feel shy about it.  Reflecting like this is part of growing and learning.

  • Clergy work is lonely.  Intensely lonely.  That wall of loneliness that kind of creeps up around you, even in places you didn’t think would have it.  You slowly shift towards a more introverted personality style. 
  • People you’ve known for a long while and the change in the way they react to and interact with you.
  • The expectation (however well founded it may be) that you’ll raise your children pagan
  • The assumption and expectation that you prefer the term Priestess, when in fact Priest feels much more comfortable
  • The comments made (both from insiders and outsiders) that you control how your congregation acts and thinks (what the hell?!)
  • My stole is heavy.  In a way that I can feel when I put it on.
  • Getting asked if the reason you don’t drink (or don’t drink often) is because you’re a priest. (And being grumpy that the very fact that that person thought to ask and make a judgement based on that means that the answer is partially yes)
  • The ownership that others think you have over rituals and liturgy (though I’ve experienced this from both sides, actually)
  • I answer my phone more often now.
  • Being lumped in with all ADF clergy, and occasionally with all pagan clergy in general
  • I’ve been both pleasantly surprised (and disgusted) that none of the folk and only other clergy have made mention of my being (too) young.
  • Sometimes feeling as though I’m resented for now having the “Rev” title
  • The hundreds of small sacrifices of family and friend time you make. How the responsibilities eat their way in small but noticeable ways. 
  • Community members will come to you and say something along the lines of “if/when I die, I’ve given my Significant Other your contact information and told them I want you to perform my funeral.”
  • Being asked “will you make sure (the rest of) my offering gets burned?” or “I can’t be there, can you make an offering for me?”
  • Being asked if you will provide personalized training for someone.
  • Having your extrovert-priest-self mistaken for personal social self, and folks getting upset when you’re less social with them: aka: taking it personally when you’re not actually their best friend, but rather are just kind and personable with most everyone
  • There are no books written for pagan clergy to help with a lot of the issues we seem to encounter
  • I am less confident in my liturgical & ritual skills now than I was before ordination.  These higher expectations (real & imagined) that I now have to live up to.  And the trust (from the folk) that I will live up to it.  Like there wasn’t as much riding on success vs failure before.  There is this trust that I won’t mess something up, that things will go as planned, that folks will get the feels they want to feel from a rite/from me.
  • women as clergy and the issues that brings
    • raising a family while a priest
    • books for spouses of female clergy
  • how to navigate the larger religious world without an M.Div./chaplaincy (hospitals, prisons, military, etc)
  • As female clergy, if a request from the folk involves kids: congratulations, it’s probably you who’s getting the call. Whether it’s baby blessing, mother blessing, child’s rite of passage, pregnancy, miscarriage, or stillbirth funeral. 
  • (6 months in) I’ve now done more funerals/memorials since having my stole than I have anything else…. including high day rites… I hope it balances out…
  • The fact that all the training does not actually seem to prepare you for the day to day bits of being a priest. You can cite facts and procedures, but the actual doing and priesting, the interactions wth your folk, and the Work. None of that is covered in the training, so you better have been doing the work before hand or you’ll feel like you’re drowning. 
  • Having your Significant Other mention how you’re now working two jobs (you day job and your job as a priest) and realizing they’re right. (Or three, or four…)
  • Having to really step up your game for setting boundaries, time management, and saying no.
  • The feeling of nervousness the first time another priest asks you to do something big ritual-wise for them like a rite of passage.
  • The drive to be constantly creating materials that others can use on their path. How very much of your life and your vocation can be defined and focused by your oath(s): serve the folk & lead others to the flame. 
  • feeling so incredibly lucky that I have a local priest as a friend and mentor.
  • I’m tired of writing liturgy for funerals. (But I’m glad I can and am someone my Folk feel like they can come to for that). The mix of emotions there is complex and odd.
  • It’s our own practice that lets us keep our center and be able to do the hard stuff.  “Keep your own flame bright, or you cannot show others its light.”
  • Occasionally getting grilled on my knowledge of liturgy, lore, and other religious things.  It feels like when you say you’re a gamer, and suddenly everyone has to ask you all these obscure questions to make you “prove” that you are, only in this case its with religion and having to prove knowledge of lore, theology, and personal devotion and practice.
  • When people you’ve known for quite a while, certainly longer than you’ve been a priest, ask for (leadership) advice, starting with the phrase “so, because you’re trained for this…”
  • The first time you get paid for doing clergy work
  • Who is the priest for the priest? I guess we must serve each other. And allow our folk to support us when other clergy cannot. 
  • I think tonight (Imbolc 2016) may be the very first time I’ve truly (like actually truly in totality) felt the “you’re /my/ priest” from the clergy side of the equation. Like people feel like I’m /their/ priest. I… It’s kinda weird. Its heavy.  There’s stuff I could mess up, really mess up, on all kinds of levels.
  • Something about being out here outside the building where we’ve held ritual, lighting a sacred fire and burning all the offerings after a ritual while most others are socializing at the potluck, people come to talk to you. About all kinds of stuff.  Lots of “….Do you have a minute?”
  • conversations with people who are considering becoming clergy.   I didn’t think I’d be talking to anyone this soon about their vocation, their ministry, their Why they want to do the priest thing… Which kind of ties into the “I figured anyone who would have those questions would want to talk to Michael” The “wait, what? What do you mean I’m /your/ priest?”
  • When you’re doing introductions to new folks and you think it just means names, so you say “Hi, I’m ___.” And then several others in your grove add on “she’s one of our priests.”
    • You can call yourself whatever you want, it’s what others call you that matters
  • encouraging folk who have been told they were doing something wrong with their practice that they in fact are doing exactly what they need to if it working for them. And don’t they dare let anyone tell them they’re practicing their devotion wrong.
  • The (mostly unspoken) expectation that you will be totally mentally stable all the time. And finding that when you are going through crisis your own support network is way way way smaller. For the most part the laity don’t want to feel like you’re not stable, and the other clergy don’t think you’re capable of representing them well if you’re in crisis (and some didn’t think you could handle it emotionally anyways…)
  • You are more likely to discover which people consider you their Priest in times of tragedy than in times of joy.
  • When you go to a social gathering that you thought was going to be mostly people who didn’t know you as Priest, and then the awkwardness that happens when there are people there who only know you as Priest.
  • having atheist friends and acquaintances come to you for advice/counsel because they’ve been watching the clergy work you’ve been doing from the sidelines.
  • Remembering the real Work always helps.  Love the Earth.  Serve the Folk.  Honor the Gods.  Following that drive and passion and vocation will renew your drive and passion and vocation
  • Doing a ritual for the first time with nearly all new grove members, and the awkwardness that they expect you to handle most of ritual, and they don’t seem to want to speak at all. They trust you.
  • Having in depth conversations with folks about their spirituality, and knowing that you’ve made a difference for them. 
  • The sheer number of conversations with my folk that now begin with “So you’re a priest…” and then request advice, or knowledge, or even just listening.
  • Conversations with people facing death never go how you expect them to.
  • How attached I am to my “sacred tuft” (the spot where the hair I cut at ordination is growing back in)
  • (Spring Equinox 2016) Going through pictures from our recent rites, I finally don’t feel like I look weird with my stole on.
  • The joy you experience having in-depth conversations about liturgy, ritual mechanics, and the magic of the Work.
  • Being more nervous leading rituals now that you are a priest than you ever were before you were ordained. 
  • Leading a ritual where a large number of new folks got up to do parts (or old members doing new parts) for the first time, and being so proud of how well they did and how well the energy was raised and the ritual flowed.  Seeing folks you’ve had a part in mentoring grow into their roles and blossom in their own Work.
  • Never having really liked that some people use the title of Rev. for power or influence, and being pleasantly surprised at how that title has aided me immensely in the Work I was already doing serving my Folk.
  • Being the Priest for another Priest.  The first time that relationship flips with someone who has always been a counselor and priest to you, and you are the one being counselor and priest.
  • training becomes ongoing, self-directed, and on the job
  • relationships – congregational disapproval, stresses of work
  • leadership roles become intrinsic or more visible
  • lifestyle balance becomes important – engage in your hobbies; have other circles of friends
  • No one wrote us any books for this
  • Who counsels the counselor?
    • importance of having someone to go to – spouse, another clergy person
    • internal counselor
  • Clergy always held to a higher standard
  • you don’t get to pick your congregation
  • confidentiality is hard, especially for small congregations
  • job apps don’t seek this kind of experience
  • It’s a business: Planning – all important
    • income/expenses
    • product packaging
  • sometimes people leave
  • sometimes you are disappointed
  • sometimes they expect you to fix problems that they won’t tell you what they are
  • pressure to “act like clergy”
    • pray about problems/don’t drink
    • avoid depression
    • humility
    • temper
    • sexual morality
  • Not all skittles and beer
    • funerals
    • executions (prison ministry)
  • Boundary issues, spouses and second-class-ness
    • clergy 24/7? Can I call at 2am?
    • What is personal property and church property?
      • Clergy home? – used for church functions…
      • Clergy person? – when is he accessible?

A Prayer on the Autumn Equinox

This morning, as I was sitting in the parking lot of my daughter’s daycare waiting for my carpool to arrive, I watched the sun come up.  Dawn is always a powerful time for me.  She is liminal in that space each day, opening the way from he darkness into the light.  She rekindles my spirit each morning as I watch her dance over the horizon to smile at the earth.

It is especially powerful to follow the progression of the sunrise and sunset.  As the days get longer and then shorter and then longer and then shorter, there is something magical in that.  It seems to happen so quickly, and yet not quickly at all.  There is normally less than a minute difference each day, and yet suddenly it seems like we’re waking up and going to work in the dark, and coming home as the sun is setting.  There is something powerful about that shifting balance between light and dark, about the Dawn herself.  Something powerful about knowing that even liminality is liminal and always shifting.

Au Eq Dawn

Dawn on the morning of the Autumn Equinox

The sun peeks her head above the horizon
On this day where the world hangs in balance.
Liminal in time and day,
A moment of transition where even liminality is in flux.
The dawn comes, never failing,
Even when the cycle shifts to darkness.
Blessed are the children of Earth
With Her to greet them each morning
No matter the day.
Blessed are the children of Earth,
Especially today as we mark
the beginning of the darkness
Yet still greeted with Her light.

My Vocational Statement

When did you hear the call to the path of ADF Priesthood? What did it sound like?

When I was first considering what direction to go following the approval of my Dedicant Path documentation I waffled for a long while between the Initiate Path and the Clergy Path.  I talked to current initiates and priests.  I asked questions.  I did divination, journaled, and wrote a lot.  When I asked the counsel of my gods, it was obvious to me: I needed to do the Initiate work.  I didn’t feel ready, and didn’t know that I would ever feel ready, to embark on the path of clergy.  I still felt like I had a call for it then, but it was quiet and I questioned whether it was actually there.  I wanted to do the Initiate work first.  I needed to solidify my own practice before I could truly listen to see if the call was true.

 

The closer I got to completing the course requirements for the Initiate Path, the more I noticed that as I was growing in my own work, the louder the call was getting, and the more insistent.  As my own practice grew, I began seeing places where I could offer my knowledge and skills to those around me.  I feel that, next to walking your walk and owning your path, it is imperative to help others walk their path as well.  I found myself seeing voids in the community, and they were voids that I could fill.  I began leading Full Moon rituals every month, with the focus for those rituals being the magical work that we didn’t really get to do or engage in elsewhere.  It was also a place where I have fostered a “no fail” zone.  I wanted to help others find their voice, the way I felt like I was finding mine.

 

As I reached the final months of journaling for the Initiate Path, my call to the work of the priest solidified.  It felt just as obvious to me as my initial decision to embark on the Initiate Path first.  I knew without a doubt that I needed to first complete that work, and that I could then allow my focus to shift and set my foot upon the path of clergy work.  The paths all merge.  The work of the Dedicant is the first stream.  As it flows along, other rivers join it, bringing with their new waters new inspiration, new knowledge, and wider banks.  The Dedicant stream continues to flow strong in the river of my own Druidry, and will always flow in my river as its headwaters.  It has been joined by the Initiate Current, which brings a deeper understanding and a deeper level of work.  These two rivers flow, their waters mingling, and yet each flowing just as strong, now a single river.  As I encounter new waters, like the work of the Clergy, the river will continue to flow, and grow stronger as all the waters mingle.  My work as a Dedicant is a constant, ever continuing path, as is my work as an Initiate now, feeding the river.  I see the work of a priest the same way: once joined they are ever flowing, becoming just as much an integral part of the river as the other waters.

 

I want to be a priest because I want to help others on their path, whatever that path may look like to them.  I want to provide liturgy to folks who are having trouble coming up with something fitting on their own.  I want to provide my knowledge and skills to those who need them.  I want to help grow our children in our tradition.  I have built my strong foundation, and the pull has intensified.  I understand why so many people refer to it as a “Call.”

 

It is not a loud resounding gong, nor a can I necessarily put my finger on an exact moment that I felt called, but it is a constant and insistent part of my being now.  It is a constant ringing in my ears and a constant throbbing in my being. The clergy serve the gods the folk and the land, and that is what I feel drawn towards, pulled towards, called towards.  I’ve grown in my understanding of this faith community, and I’ve come to realize that what I want to do and who I want to be can’t be done elsewhere.  The sound of the call was when I heard the sound of that need in my community, when people started looking to me in that role, and when I was able to begin seeing myself in that more confident and capable place.  When I understood that by becoming an ordained priest I would be able to answer that call and fulfill that need, it felt right. The call encompasses the sounds of multiple melodic lines weaving together in harmony as the gods, the folk, and the land all sing together in my soul.

 

What form do you expect your vocation to take?

I have been doing a lot of work as an Initiate that has revolves around part of the oath that states “…and with these tools I will lead others to the flame.”  My vocation I expect will continue to reflect this work.  I will be involved in making Our Druidry accessible to any who seek it.  For any who seek the flame, I will act as a guide on their path, aiding where I can, challenging when I need to, and supporting always.  I will be involved in the educational programs that we have (in the form of the DP, IP, CTP, and Guild SPs), and with those that are just now blossoming (such as children’s programming, especially locally). I want to help grow ADF into a church that my children can be a part of and feel connected to from a young age.  I want to help develop programming that engages our new members, particularly those who are being raised in our traditions.  One of the biggest draws to ADF for me is its inclusiveness and family-friendly nature, and I want to help grow that.

 

There is great joy and potential in the balance that exists within ADF between faith and scholarship, between practice and study.  I want to help others see that same joy.  I want to help others in ADF blossom in their practice, and should they decide to embark on the course of higher study within ADF, I want to make sure that the coursework is accessible to them in a way that they can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. I want to help others feel capable and confident in adapting their hearth culture and practice into the greater whole that is ADF practice. I want to help others find their voice.

 

Do you feel prepared to become an ADF Priest now? Do you see further work that you will need to do to prepare yourself for the work ahead?

I feel as ready as I can without having actually set foot on the path yet.  I know that I am going to run into obstacles and challenges, but I feel confident that while I won’t be prepared in the sense that the challenge wouldn’t have happened, that I am prepared in that I will be able to work with or around the issues that arise.

 

There is always work to do, and there is always room for more growth.  I don’t think I will ever be done learning and improving.  There are always new things to learn, and new things to experiment with.  There are specific experiences that I lack, but that I’m not sure can be gained before ordination.  I’ve never married anyone, though I witnessed folks declare themselves for each other.  I’ve never helped anyone cross the veil, though I’ve sat with those left on this side.  I’ve never done conflict resolution from a religious point of view, though I it do it on a regular basis at my job and amongst my friends.

 

These are life experiences, and I think they simply take time.  I cannot say with certainly how I will handle them when the time comes, but I feel that I have been well prepared, and have a solid support network of my own in the form of current Priests and the Kindreds to draw on when I need help or guidance along the way.

 

Clergy is not all weddings and funerals.  It’s not that glamorous or that that clear cut.  It’s listening and liturgy.  It’s meditation and magic.  It’s the interactions and relationships you develop.  It’s about the day-to-day work – the hundreds of small differences that you are able to make in the lives of those around you.  It’s about fostering a community and growing and tending what you have.  It’s about the thousands of minute details and small-scale actions you take each and every day to serve the gods, the folk, and the land. That I am prepared for.

 

We are all students, and all continually growing beings. There is nothing wrong with, and perhaps even something good about, accepting that the path we walk doesn’t have a clear end and that there is something new around every twist and turn.  I am prepared in this sense, because I have faith that I can handle the experiences that are to come with the skills that I have gained along the way.