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Know On Whose Shoulders We Stand

One question I’m getting a lot is about what is my responsibility at Guilford College and what are the things I’d like to see happen. I waffle on both of these fronts. One is because at least some of my responsibilities are still unfolding and being discerned. Others are hard to describe or I’m still learning what they are. Stepping into a role that has been carefully tended to and built over more than 30 years requires more sense of call and self than I first realized.  So with the help of many others, I am asking questions like: What is my work to do? What is to be laid down? What is to be shared? What do I desire to bring to the table that is not yet here?

In terms of vision there is a tension between wanting to have something invigorating to offer, “here is my grandiose vision for what comes next,” and realizing the need to just listen and be a good sponge for a year or more. It is easy for leaders to come in and have a vision for the future without having any sense of the current gifts, or a sense of the history and roots that are buried under the soil of the community. And so I am, with the help of others, feeling my way between these two overlapping circles: learning what is here to build upon and discerning what it is exactly that we’re being called to build.

My friend and colleague, Deborah Shaw, who is the director of the Quaker Leadership Scholars Program, offered this bit of wisdom to me that has helped to focus all of this even more:

“Know on whose shoulders we stand.”