It is late (yes, it’s really 5:45 AM, but for me, that is “late” to rise and to begin writing my blog entry for the week)…
It’s been a busier than usual week, including the regular assortment of daytime meetings, Convocation meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and a quick trip, yesterday, to Philadelphia for a day-long meeting of the Directors and Chaplains of the Widow’s Corporation, a benevolent organization that cares for Episcopal clergy and clergy families and on whose board I serve as an ex officio member. And so, I am sliding into the big leather arm chair a little late, today, to wax poetic.
At my last job, my title was “Canon for Mission Collaboration.” We added “…and Congregational Life” after the first couple of years since the first title sounded a little bit like I worked for the FBI or something, and because I spent a lot of time working in congregations to address issues of their own that had little to do with collaborating. But collaboration is in my blood. It’s part and parcel of the Christian life, and, while not instinctual, really, in our self-focused, entrepreneurial, competitive, achieving American way… it is an ethos that defines, well, the coming together in body and spirit as members of the Jesus movement.
Collaboration is different that cooperation or coordination, though both of those are important elements of collaboration.
When we cooperate, we work alongside another, acquiescing our own interest to be first and yield to the larger body to achieve a common goal. Think of children lining up to climb the stairs to the playground slide so that they can each have a turn. Cooperation.
When we coordinate, we organize our individual efforts to allow participation in a process that includes more than ourselves, to achieve a desired outcome. Think of trains in a train yard arriving at the same time and moving in and through the switches to get where they each need to be without colliding. Coordination.
When we collaborate we both coooperate and coordinate to create something new… and bigger than the thing that we could create on our own. Collaboration requires deftness, the ability to work with others, both leading and yielding, assessing needs and gifts, and the appreciation that what comes out of the effort will be uniquely a result and product of a team of people, not a project directed and designed by one and implemented by others.
Collaboration is harder to do than cooperating or coordinating and, from a Christian perspective, it includes the work of the Holy Spirit as one of the members.
Collaboration is what we are asking each Convocation to consider, in our spring meetings this year. Funded in part by grants from our diocesan budget, we are hoping for each Convocation to identify a need in their region and to come together to offer a cooperative, coordinated effort that will be a reflection of the Holy Spirit working among us, and a collaborative movement that will serve God’s mission.
You’ve heard me on this before. Project collaboration is a good way to share our gifts and strengths; to achieve that which, alone, we cannot do; and to grow and learn together as One body in Christ, outside of our individual congregations. It is not an “add on” to what we are already doing, it is another facet of our integral identity as Episcopalians who recognize a larger connection to others in a diocesan system.
Now, this is a short entry this morning because I need to get to the office. You see, it is my turn to feed and water Lilly-Grace, our new diocesan kitten. Carolyn, her usual morning care-taker, is away on vacation. Lilly Grace is our latest staff project. Her well-being requires Cooperation, Coordination and Collaboration… and she is probably wondering, right now, when her breakfast will be served up.
on my way….