...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do We Have a Toxic Workplace?

I bought the last one at Barnes and Noble (review forthcoming). The topic of toxicity in the church is a good topic for clergy for two reasons. One, if we can prevent toxic behaviors, such as bullying, passive hostility, and shaming, everyone now and in the future will benefit. Two, if we've ever had the fun of working with, supervising, or working under a toxic individual, we can learn the importance of respectful engagement and human dignity.

The topic also begs other questions, like:
  • How do I sometimes exhibit unhealthy and yes, toxic behaviors?
  • How does my community of faith tolerate or enable toxicity?
  • How can we survive a toxic workplace?
The point made about toxicity is that we treat it as an individual problem, when it is also a team and organizational problem. The "bad apple" metaphor is not very accurate- a more realistic comparison could be infection or cancer. Start with organizational values, such as respect for all. Incorporate these values in measurements for team effectiveness and individual fruitfulness.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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