My husband Michael sits on the executive committee of our kids' Jewish day school. An alum of the school himself, he takes his board work seriously, and is proudly following in the footsteps of his parents (his dad was board president and his mom was president of the Parents Association). And like so many of us involved in mission-driven work, he has come home from his board meetings frustrated at times -- with a process, a decision, a comment, etc.
When I see his annoyance, I often think about a comment I heard from Reconstructionist Rabbi David Teutsch, one of the foremost Jewish communal thinkers in America, who currently leads the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College's Center for Jewish Ethics. When discussing the interplay of Jewish values and organizational decision making, he commented that "the people who make the decisions should also feel the pain of those decisions."
I have to imagine that he meant pain both literally and figuratively -- but I do know that many of us in volunteer work -- paid or volunteer -- feel that pain, that frustration, that disappointment often enough for us to wonder if this is worth the tsuris.
While I don't have the answers, I do have an evocative question for you to ask yourself, shared with me by master coach Steve Mitten:
Do you want to serve where it's easy -- or where you're needed?
What did that bring up for you? What answers? What feelings? What considerations? Sit with your thoughts for a while. Ask yourself again on a different kind of day. Ask your professional or lay counterpart. Have a discussion.
On my last day of coaching school at Coach U., my esteemed faculty team warned us that coaches are NOT to coach their family members without their permission. I tested that theory out soon after graduation, and found, of course, that they were right on the money.
So the next time I see Michael come home from a board meeting feeling that way, I think I'll just hear him out, and maybe let him know that I have a blog entry he might want to check out...