Serving with Grace: Lay Leadership as a Spiritual Practice – by Erik Walker Wikstrom – book review

In this brief 85-page book, Unitarian-Universalist Minister Erik Walker Wikstrom argues that by shifting one’s mindset, lay leaders in congregations can view what many see as necessary (even mundane) service on church committees as spiritual practice instead. That is, as a way toward personal growth and enrichment. Awarded three stars on Goodreads.

As he sees it, all committee work is an opportunity to examine and recognize one’s own strengths and weaknesses, appreciate the strengths of others, show gentle compassion for the weaknesses of others, and grow in your own ability to put religious community values to work. Like love, patience, and understanding. Along with an appreciation for the fact that, when evaluated together, it’s combination of diverse abilities and foibles that results in the very best results. Because each person is playing to their strengths and allowing others to do the work they themselves are not good at. It’s a lovely approach.

However, to me, it feels like success would require “buy-in” from everyone. Alternatively, the single person approaching committee work this way will require super-human commitment and patience — laboring alongside people who still want to do work they may not be good at, who may not share an equal level of commitment to the work, or whose primary goal is NOT this cooperative model of work. So, (again to me) the practical application of what Wikstrom suggests seems extremely difficult to achieve.

In his defense, Wikstrom likely feels that even a single person adopting this approach and working toward these goals is sufficient to advance THAT person’s spiritual growth — regardless of what others do. But I don’t see what he is describing as something I personally would be able to maintain. (So, I guess that means I already know a lot about my own limitations.)

More about the author, Erik Walker Wikstrom.