Peter Dybing Resigns

Peter Dybing, from Pagan in Paradise

Peter Dybing, former First Officer of the Covenant of the Goddess and one of the most prominent and public Pagans over the past few years, posted an entry on his blog yesterday saying:

As of today April 28, 2012, I am resigning from all organizations, positions, posts and responsibilities in the Pagan community. This decision, as hard as it is, IS FINAL.

Or, as he says in the title of the blog post, “I Quit.”

I encourage you to read Peter’s statement for yourself. For more about his background and his many accomplishments, see the piece Jason did on today’s Wild Hunt.

I don’t know Peter publicly, much less privately – I couldn’t begin to speculate on the specifics behind his decision. But I’ve seen this before.

It’s not unique to Pagans: I’ve seen it in virtually every small religious, charitable or social organization I’ve been around. A skilled, dedicated volunteer does good work, takes on more, is asked to do even more and eventually reaches his or her breaking point – usually when he is criticized by those whose investment in the organization, cause or movement is far less. Or when he figures out his vision will never be realized because no one else is willing to make the sacrifices he gladly makes.

I find it telling that one of the first reasons Peter gives for resigning is “the events of the last two years have convinced me that our community is not ready to embrace a spirit of service.”

I find it telling that Peter goes on to say “It is with great sadness that I have witnessed dozens of prominent Pagan leaders speaking ill of their compatriots.”

I find it telling that all the comments on Peter’s blog and on The Wild Hunt are supportive. None of us are surprised – maybe we’ve been there ourselves. We know Peter isn’t to blame for this, we appreciate all the work he’s put into the Pagan community and we’re just sad it ended this way. Sad, but not surprised.

I want to get mad about this. I want to tear off in a rant of righteous anger. I want to blast people who criticize without contributing and who put their need for affirmation ahead of doing what’s right for the community.

I especially want to blast people who sign up for leadership roles and then don’t follow through because it’s harder than what they thought it would be, because it isn’t convenient, or because their ideas on how to run things aren’t adopted. When “leaders” like that don’t do what they said they’d do it falls on the people who put the good of the community ahead of their own needs to pick up the slack.

And even the best volunteers can only pick up so much slack for so long.

But getting mad isn’t going to help. The people who need to be blasted won’t read this blog, or if they do they’ll envision themselves in Peter Dybing’s position despite the fact they haven’t done a fraction of his work. They’ll see themselves as a wronged party instead of someone who needs to re-evaluate his or her priorities and commitments.

All I can do is learn what I can from this situation.

As someone who at least occasionally fills leadership roles, I need to make sure I stay grounded in my practice and balanced in my life. I need to make sure I don’t neglect my health, my job, my friends and especially my wife. I need to make sure I know my limits and that I stretch them with care and after due consideration.

As someone who frequently interacts with leaders, I need to make sure I always do what I say I’m going to do. I need to make sure I can always separate what I want from what’s best for the community.

Because in the end, it’s not about me. It’s not about you, either. It’s about the well-being of our families, our communities, our planet and all the beings living on it. It’s about creating and sharing a spiritual path that millions of people need. It’s about building a world that is fair and just and compassionate. It’s about honoring our ancestors and our goddesses and gods.

Peter, I’ve never met you. I don’t think we’ve ever interacted on-line. But know that I greatly appreciate the work you’ve done on behalf of the Pagan community and on behalf of the Goddess you serve. Enjoy the disappearance of needless conflicts with people who do not share your dedication to either. Enjoy reconnecting with your partner, and enjoy your time of rest. I hope to meet you some day in a happier setting, as tree worshiper to dirt worshiper.

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  • There was an article going around last week about "Clergy Killer" congregations, where an over-worked minister carried too large a share of the blame, leading to burn-out.

    Obviously, this struck a cord with UUs in social media who have seen this happen all too many times in growing congregations.

    As the UUA offers limited support to congregations, some are, in effect, small and lonely non-profit groups that fall in to just this kind of thinking.

  • I was close to being there during my first term as President of Denton UU. But I had plenty of support from the congregation (or at least, from a significant portion of it), and the workload never got to the point where I felt overwhelmed.

    What I didn't get into in this post was the need for systems and structures, to make it easier for volunteers to know their roles and not feel like they've got to do EVERYthing themselves. But small UU congregation have little in the way of structures, and the Pagan world has virtually nothing.

  • Thanks for your wisdom (as usual). I certainly appreciate all you've done for so many groups and individuals and admire (as well as try unsuccessfully to emulate) your compassion, patience, and willingness to overlook, forgive, and even understand the failures of the rest of us.