Spiritual questions for leadership in service

Over the past month, Ed and I have delivered a set of workshops for ninety Global Health Corps (GHC) fellows from around the world. The workshops are embedded in a larger curriculum and accompaniment program that we have developed over the past five years in collaboration with GHC.

This past month has marked the mid-year point in the 2012-2013 year of service, and as usual fellows are grappling with making sense of the many joys and frustrations that come with being an emerging leader in the field of global health. Given the sheer amount of work there is to be done to serve the poorest of the poor, it sometimes seems that challenges can outweigh the joys. Some hurdles can be overcome through hard work, but most of the obstacles require fellows to discern and live into who they are and what they believe. Given this, our workshops call on fellows to delve deeply into reflection on purpose, identity, and values, all of which steers fellows to the question, “Who am I?"

This question – “Who am I?” – can be answered simply and also contemplated deeply. There may be one life-long response or an infinite number of answers. For example, I may answer the question by telling myself, “I am a changemaker.” But what happens to me when changemaking is not needed? Also, how might my relationships be damaged by my desire to be “the changemaker”? Making change is a skill my mind and body are able to give the world, but it is not my sole identity. Tying my identity to just one skill denies the sacred wholeness of my being.

By taking the question “Who am I?” to a more spiritual realm, we are each able to use the question as a pointer for mindfulness, presence, and solidarity. Living in the question, as opposed to in some sense of the answers, frees us up to realize our true nature and share it with the world. Asking the question within the spiritual realm allows the sacred nature of all things to shine through.

On the GHC blog, Eliza Ramos, a fellow placed in Rwanda, offers some insight into how she has applied this interior reflective work to her day-to-day activities. She repeats my question to the fellows, “What would you do if there was not a problem to be solved?” This question helps Eliza cultivate a sense of presence in the fleeting moments of calm.

There is also the question, “who are you if there is not a problem to be solved?” which can help us recognize we are more than our minds, in turn nurturing a greater awareness of the interconnectedness of all beings.

-Perry, Associate Director