Being Generous

As a spiritual person, I’ve struggled with the idea of being
unambiguously generous with my time, my attention, my love. Truly as a partnered man with a child, my
priorities begin with my family and my life-love companion, but beyond that
things get complicated. Samuel Freedman
in Upon this Rock presents a common picture among my Christian brothers
and sisters preparing for the ministry when he describes Rev. Youngblood
turning to the fourth chapter of Luke for the two verses that amount to Youngblood’s
mission statement:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath
anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the
brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captices, and recovering the sight
to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable
year of the Lord.” (36) 

Youngblood describes this not only as reason for
contemporary urban ministry to centrally involve advocacy for the poor, but
also highlights the essence of the foundation of his ministry. That is, being called to function under the
“aegis of the Holy Spirit.” I can
appreciate this deeply, and feel that it reflects well the roots on my
generosity of spirit as a person doing ministry and preparing to be ordained,
however the interconnections with Christian creeds that the language emerges
from are not a part of my theology. While I feel as though I’ve been baptized from a holy spirit of sorts,
and an urge to share my time and energy generously and authentically with the
communities that have called me to work with them, I find it challenging yet
important to locate the theological origins and describe the inherent authority
with which I feel move me to generosity and are at the root of my ministry.

My generosity of spirit and person is not designed to win
converts over to Unitarian Universalism. I find myself again drawn to Godwin’s language about ones vocation
“making more of you” (12). I feel energized
by my interactions with people, and find myself skilled at navigating complex
personal relationships and community involvement. While I believe my strengths lie in working
one-on-one with people, leading me to think strongly about counseling work as
part of my ministry, I have been such an engaged community activist for years
that I hope to balance the two. I am
generous in spirit more because it feels natural for me and less because I feel
forced into this way of being.  

True I have learned of the benefits and personally place
value on being generous from my lifelong experiences in Unitarian Universalism
and society-at-large, but I also have come to believe that God granted me the
gifts to be present in the world in the ways of a Unitarian Universalist
minister. As I entered divinity school,
I regularly ran into situations in my personal reflection on ministerial
formation that I did not understand with respect to why I wanted to be a
minister. Coming into an academic
environment, pressured me to think in a good way about my own meaning and
purpose on the ministry track. What I’ve
concluded is that there is a part of my call to ministry that is rooted in the
mystery of life, and that while I may continually improve in my ability to
describe and share this understanding, it is one that I may never answer fully
or with complete satisfaction. My life
experience, merged with my own spiritual reflection and Unitarian Universalist
religious education have shaped my identity in a way that continues to feel
right, authentic and true to myself.

I believe that my generosity of spirit comes from my
Unitarian Universalist upbringing and theology. I believe each of us are imbued with a soul and spirituality that is
unique but inherently interconnected with God and Creation. Our individuality is a critical part of our
spiritual identity and each of us exist in a dynamic co-equal relationship with
our understanding of God, Spirit of Life, that which we call Holy. There is power in the human spirit, but it is
not ultimate power. We each have a
kernel of knowledge about that which is beyond us and while we may consent or
accept as truth the religious canon of a particular faith, I believe we
ultimately hold our own understanding of our spirituality and negotiate our way
along our own religious path. In this
process, this search for truth and meaning in a spiritual sense, I find my
generosity through my attraction to studying the diversity in spiritual and
religious life, and through learning specifically about the roots of Unitarian
and Universalism. I strive to be
accessible, engaged, strong in listening, and willing to be changed by the
stories and experiences of others. I
believe I am changed through my own experiences or when I empathize
authentically with another’s. These
characteristics along with a healthy measure of critical self and collegial
reflection I hope will represent the manner of ministry I offer to the world.

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