Over the past decade, I’ve come to understand many things about committee work. In the UU world, we talk about committee work as a spiritual practice, which it needs to be, for people to get the Good Work done that we are attempting to do. Part of my mentality about committee work is reflected in my Flaming Chalice monologue. The rest (for the moment) is here.
The first rule of Committee Work, is a simple one. Whether you’ve been elected, appointed, or usurped your position, you are a servant to the Community, and your work must reflect that. If you aren’t engaging the community and learning their true desires (not just their initially or officially stated desires), you aren’t doing your work properly.
The second rule of Committee Work, deals with the institution of the committee and community itself. You are filling an Office. The Office has existed before, and will continue after you. The Office has work to do, and the tools to do that work have been entrusted to you to be wielded. While each person while in an Office gives their own vision to the way the Work is done, and can change the way the Office works for time long after their term is ended, you are always a servant to the Office.
The third rule is of the phoenix. When you fill an office, you cease to be the important one. The Office and the Work co-opts you. It doesn’t matter if every person on the committee goes to bed at night crying, if the Work that was done that day was the Right Work, and was done the Right Way. If at the end of your term, you have created something wonderous, that serves the Community in ways that could only have been imagined when you took office, but leaves you outside, unable to be a full member of the community, so be it. There IS a place for you, that the greater community should be providing, as you recover from your burning.
Three simple rules.
- You are a Servant to the Community.
- The Office and its work reigns supreme.
- You are expected to burn, and your individual peace is of little import, as long as you serve.