Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Light on Details; Heavy on Emotions

So, looking for opinions in general here.

My calling at Church hasn't changed, but all the people working with me have. I love all of these women. A lot. I have also been familiar with them in other settings where it was all very comfortable.

The problem is that in this new setting, I'm finding that the philosophy toward YW that I've grown into over time, and suits me very well, isn't entirely compatible with the approach our new president is taking.

I'm struggling. As the only holdover from the previous group, I'm trying very hard not to be in charge. Partly because I'm NOT, and partly because I really do believe that our current leaders were called for a reason and at this time for a purpose. But it is hard for me not to be in charge, particularly when what we've had going has really been working so well.

It happened once before that I was kept as part of a YW organization shake-up; but in that case, my calling was clearly defined, narrower, and not exactly a leadership role. The rearrangement was actually great because the new president required far fewer meetings and I felt wonderfully trusted to mostly do my own thing. Very little changed for me that time around.

This time is different, however. I am trying very hard to find a balance between retaining all that we achieved with the girls in the last few years with a very small and similarly-minded group of leaders, and embracing the new and wonderful diversity that now exists in our almost full-sized YW board.

Have you ever found yourself in this place? Called to a leadership position, of sorts, where you had to seriously re-think your own approach in order to become part of the group? Or change your practices without sacrificing principles? What is your own philosophy toward the YW program? After 18 months, this is a paradigm shift I'm struggling to make, on top of a lot of other stuff going on this last month.


FoxyJ said...

I was the primary president for three years and really liked it. My philosophy has always been to stick to the manual and to really keep things simple. Then a few years later I moved to a new ward and got called as a Primary counselor. It was really hard at first because I thought they were doing everything 'wrong', plus two of my kids were in Primary. I jumped right in and got all huffy and said a lot of things that I regret and that were not received well. Once I backed off a little and stopped being so agressive it actually went a lot better. It was hard, though. I really had to hold my tongue. After spending a month or so of stepping on toes all over the place I finally calmed down and told myself that I wouldn't make any suggestions for a month. I'd just sit back and listen. That helped me calm down if nothing else. It didn't make things perfect, and I ended up moving away from the ward more quickly than I had anticipated, but I feel like things were able to go better once I stopped trying to make everything go 'my way'. When I made friends and listened to their side of things I was much more able to share my thoughts and really communicate. People respond better when you don't say "you're doing it all wrong" (either out loud or in your attitude).

Anyways, that's my experience. Your mileage may vary :)

AmyJane said...

A few years ago I was the chorister in the Primary. A few months after I was called, they changed the entire presidency and I stayed put. When they told me I was staying where I was they also told me that they had really wanted to call me to be the new primary presidency but it just didn't feel right, however, they knew that the new presidency would "really need my influence." You betcha. The new president was a 21 year old newly reactivated massage therapist. Her counselors were both 22 years old, had never worked with children and all three of them only had one child each, all in nursery. So, no experience whatsoever with Primary aged kids.
It was bad. Bad, like the Stake Primary visited and about came unglued over all the insanity. They weren't using the handbook at all, they were totally ignoring major components of Primary (as in no kid talks/ scriptures/prayers), violating major safety standards (single male teachers behind closed doors, nursery kid on unsupervised outside busy street walks). BBBBBBAAAAAAD.
The whole thing was almost the death of me. I wasn't involved in meetings, none of them really wanted my opinion, yet somehow, I was supposed to fix things?!?! As I got to know everyone. I was able to influence a few things here and there, but I finally went to first the bishop, where I was pretty much brushed off, and then the Stake Primary President, where I was heard (they'd seen it in action) and they assigned one of the counselors to come in and be there every week for several months. Eventually that presidency was released and I moved and I haven't thought about this in a long time now.
But yes, I've been there. In that what to say, and when to say it place. How to play on the team and not take over but at the same time use your knowledge to help. Good luck. Pray about it, especially before your meetings. Pray for the right attitude and the right words to say that will help not hinder.

Caitlin said...

I am entering my 8th year in YW and this is the 6th Presidency I have worked with. I have no advice to give other than pray a lot and go with the flow. I am not sure there is anything else to do. The Lord will bless all of you and things will work out. I can relate on the feelings of anxiety and worrying that all of the work that has been done is being, well, undone. I have never seen a girl go astray because of decisions that a President made. I am not saying it doesn't happen, but I haven't witnessed it and hopefully you won't either. It won't be easy but your level of concern shows the great love you have for the girls. If my daughter were in your ward, I would be so thankful that you were her leader.

Cathy said...

You say that you know the women in the new presidency and have been comfortable with them in other settings. Why not try to get together with just the president and explain your concerns, especially that of wanting to be a useful tool and not take over her presidency but also not wanting to lose the momentum of successful past ways of doing things?

If I were in her shoes I would want you to handle it this way. Presiding as president does not (or should not) mean that the abilities and experiences of others are stifled. Rather, if she's going to avoid the Herculean task of doing everything herself, she needs to quickly learn the strengths and abilities of her fellow leadership and be able to use you. Part of using you is knowing what you've got that's useful. I suggest the private approach because it's less likely to make her feel that you're trying to seize control. Once she knows for sure that you want to support her, you'll be able to speak out more and do more.