Monday, July 26

Living Authentically in Communities of Faith


"You don't have to become something that you aren't to become better than you are."

-Sidney Poitier

Living Authentically

The norm of neighbor-love as applied to faith communities “implies active commitment to the well-being of who or what is loved...the fundamental attribute of love from a biblical perspective is steadfast, enduring commitment to seek the good of who or what is loved[1].”  To ensure that we seek the good of those who we love as neighbors, we must accept each other and ourselves as we are.  This means accepting our own personalities and styles along with accepting the personalities and styles of others.  Being authentic opens us up to our own gifts while seeing the Best Possible Motive[2] in the gifts and personalities of others. 


In opening up to my own gifts and personality, I was able to claim the fact that I am an extrovert.  This may seem to be a small thing, but I have learned over time to recede from being an extrovert.  Growing up, we moved all over the U.S. and ended up in a small rural area where I was not accepted.  Eventually, you just stop reaching out when reaching out is rejected.  Additionally, my parents were alcoholics so I grew to be very protective and inward facing.  I know that I was an extrovert as a child, but over time, I lost the desire to act fully as an extrovert.  I should live authentically with the fact that I am an extrovert. 


In accepting myself, I can more readily accept the typologies of other people.  The norm of neighbor-love requires that I not only accept other people’s styles but that I nurture those styles.  This will aid in creating diverse communities of faith as differences in personalities and learning styles bring strength and character to the group[4].  Being authentic opens the group up to seek a creative third way[5].  Typically, I have embraced the idea that if all parties are not entirely happy, then a good job of compromising was done.  Bolton[6] opens up the idea that we can create win/win solutions.  Win/win solutions can only be created if all parties are authentic and all parties nurture each other in the norm of neighbor-love.  The norm of neighbor-love brings an authentic openness to group experiences.  It is with neighbor-love that I can claim my extrovert while nurturing someone’s introvert.  Only by being authentic can we be led to creating a true community of faith that is inclusive, realistic, contemplative, healing, and has the presence of the spirit[7].  It is in our faith journey that “we are looking for a sacred place, a place and time when we can be healthy and whole.”[8]

[1] Cynthia D. Moe-Lobeda, Public Church:  For the Life of the World (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2004), 24.

[2] Tandi Rogers, BPM, e-mail message to All course individuals (STMM_554_01_08RQ), June 30, 2008.

[4] Sharon Henderson Callahan, Typologies (Seattle: Seattle University, STM), 8.

[5] Gretchen Gundrum, "Class Discussion," speech delivered to STMM 554, June 25, 2008, Seattle University, Seattle, WA.

[6] Robert Bolton, People Skills:  How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979), 239.

[7] M. Scott Peck, The Different Drum:  Community Making and Peace (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), 63-76; referenced in Jerry C. Doherty, A Celtic Model of Ministry (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2003).

[8] Jerry C. Doherty, A Celtic Model of Ministry:  The Reawakening of Community Spirituality (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2003), 43.

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