As I am nearing the end of my third degree studies, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into what it means to be a High Priest. What the roles and responsibilities that come with assuming this mantle are. The result? A series of questions for leaders to constantly ask themselves.
- Who do we serve?
- How can we best serve?
- Are we making an unique contribution?
- Are we improving all the time?
The first question has an easy answer, we serve our Gods by serving the community. Whether it is the community at large or just a small subset of it. So if this is an easy question to answer, then why ask it? So that we are constantly reminded of our purpose as a High Priest or Priestess.
Now that we know who we serve, how can we best serve them? I have seen many groups headed up by a leader that does everything for their group. From hosting and leading every ritual, workshop and meeting, inevitably leading to burnout and dissolution. Maybe in the short term this method of leading best serves the community, but looking at the long game it does nothing but shortchange both the members of the group, but the leader as well.
So what is the alternative? It has been my experience that a good leader takes on the role of a Parent. And no not the helicopter variety, these are all adults here, so no hand-holding necessary. Rather a Priest/ess can best serve their community, like a Parent best serves their children, by lifting-up and empowering them.Now don’t get me wrong this practice is not the only thing necessary for keeping a group alive. Group dynamics, and the managing of them is another very important piece. But if the community is empowered to lead then the groundwork is laid for a long term group.
Now onto the third question, are you making an unique contribution? I think we have all seen it, the groups competing over the same area, holding the same events at the same times only miles from each other. This does not serve the community except to cause division and strife. Now this is not to say that any given area cannot support two groups or that one group can’t become so full of problems that the people are crying for something new. What it does say is that we should strive, as leaders, to foster peace in our communities. Just like a plant does not grow well in a polluted area, people cannot grow and become empowered in a community polluted by stress and derisivness.
This last question may seem to have little to do with community or even with our responsibilities. Yet if we are not learnng more of how to be a better High Priest/ess then how can we hope to continue to serve our communty as it grows? But our continued training shouldn’t be only on community themes, we should focus on personal projects as well. If we fail to feed our own soul then we face the threat of burnout.
I would love to hear your thought, experiences or stories on this topic. Am I wrong in my thoughts?