Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Integrity

My mind had been running away with me. I had imagined the possibility of such catastrophic proportions that I had managed to scare myself out of hope. That changed today with a simple one-hour conversation.

Last week, I made a commitment to have this conversation, essentially because it was a matter of integrity. I work at a protestant church, and I have for several years. I understand the beliefs of the people there, and I have consistently encouraged the development of their faith during my time there. In fact, one of the stands I have been taking for a long time is to encourage spiritual growth in others, even if their beliefs differ from mine.

Which is actually why my integrity has been in question for me. I don't believe all of the same things about God that the church where I work teaches. In some ways, my beliefs are very clearly aligned with the example of Jesus' life, but in some ways, my beliefs are rather different from mainline Christianity. I haven't actually shared that with anyone where I work, and fear has even led me to claim things that aren't true about my beliefs.

I had an incredible conversation today with the senior pastor, in which I told him my beliefs and commitments. I literally had no idea what he would say. In many ways, this very conversation was a step of faith. His response was that my beliefs sounded very Christ-like to him, and that the semantics of the church don't mean the same things to everyone. He acknowledged how the church benefits from my presence and my support of people's spiritual growth, and he basically told me to just be my authentic self.

I was blown away by the graciousness, acceptance, and connectedness of his response. What I had feared would happen was the farthest thing from the reality I experienced today, and I am grateful not only that I was willing to take a step into the unknown but that I was so incredibly rewarded for claiming my integrity. I'm seeing that my fear was the only thing keeping me from having it to begin with.

6 comments:

  1. I'm glad that you have satisfied your sense of integrity and set your mind at ease. We've had this conversation before, but what I don't get is why you felt your integrity was in question in the first place. You never undermined anything the church did, you never dealt dishonestly with regard to your work or anyone at the church; quite the opposite, in fact. Everything you did there contributed to the vision the church leadership was forming. Perhaps not quite in the way that they envisioned, but that is always the case when one person hires another person to do a job.
    Talking openly about your own spirituality would have been counterproductive and undermined your ability to do your job effectively.

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  2. It sounds like the pastor at the church is pretty open minded, which is good. I have a hard time talking to anyone about my beliefs without either sounding like an idiot or pissing them off or both.

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  3. I have struggled with this myself and one of the things that I have loved about More to Life and the advanced courses is that they have enhanced my spirituality while I have noticed that I am less "religious." I consider myself a person of faith. More to Life has given that faith wings. I wanted to be that person who mad a difference and this work answered the question that plagued me most of my life in regard to living out my faith; that was, "yes, but how?" I see me living out my vocation far differently from how I thought it would look -- and it is deeply satisfying, indeed.

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  4. But you don't have any problem taking their money even though you don't agree with their beliefs. Yeah, I would have to say there is some integrity in question here.

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  5. Like most people earning a paycheck, I am given a salary for the work I do. My position involves specialized skills, for which I have extensive training, and therefore it is appropriate that I am paid by the people for whom I use those skills.

    Some of this work involves arranging or playing appropriate music, which is not impacted by my beliefs. I also make decisions about what music is programmed and more spiritually-oriented facets of worship. These decisions are aligned first and foremost with the spiritual beliefs of the congregation and the larger religious organization of which they are a part.

    My desire in being a part of their community is to encourage their own spiritual growth, which is to say that I want their faith to be meaningful in their lives, regardless of whether I agree with their specific beliefs. I believe that decision holds a great deal of integrity and respect. It happens that I am also paid for the work that I do on their behalf.

    Ultimately, I believe that if more people lived in alignment with what they claim to believe spiritually, the world would be a more graceful and loving place. If I can have a meaningful impact toward this, then my time will be well spent.

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  6. I am a bit awestruck by the 4th comment from "Anonymous". In this post I find inspiration towards seeking integrity within myself. I cannot make claims as to what others may, or should, also get from this insightful essay, but I am inclined to believe that someone posting as "Anonymous" certainly didn't get that same message. When you are busy seeing only what you wish to see, it seems a person can miss quite a bit.

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