Thought of the Day: Leading with the Heart

At the end of March, I switched roles from being a full time chaplain to a neighborhood leader of a memory care area at a retirement community. I’ve always been someone who leads from the side lines, and tries to empower others to make wise choices. I took this love, because I love caring for folks with cognitive challenges and walking with their family and friends; one of my challenges has been leading and supervising the care givers. I did not take on this job, because I wanted to be Health Service Administrator, but so I could grow as a pastor in my skills of administration and leadership.

I recently met with the executive director of my work place, and he handed a book called The Heart Led Leader by Tommy Spaulding. I am hoping spirituality and leadership can mix. The last few months have been both amazing in that I get to still build relationships and use my chaplain skills to care for residents, team members, and family members that are dealing with loss and grief. I also get to pray with folks, and sing songs with folks while I play my ukulele. All of the relational pieces of this job seems familiar and come natural to me, but things like scheduling, disciplining people when they consistently call out, and over seeing three different shifts has been a bit overwhelming.

A friend of mine one day stopped and told me, I think I know how to describe your job and said, “you’re like a small church pastor, you do a little bit of everything” I think her description was fitting, and I am thinking of running our household/neighborhood (the term we use instead of saying memory care unit) as if I am running a church. I realize that I’ve not given appropriate attention to the 11pm-7am team, and hope to earn their trust and lead with a heart.

I guess leading with the heart does not mean that I do not hold people accountable, and challenge them to correct things that are harmful to themselves, to the folks we care for, and to other team members. I hope that slowly over time that we can change are culture to be less institutional and be more like a home, or a little community…a neighborhood. I hope to develop this further in my future posts, and reflect on ways in which I can be grounded in a loving God, so I don’t loose sight of why I am in this role in the first place.

poem: memories

This Poem is written in honor of everyone living with dementia, family, friends, and other care givers who are present with them.
—————

I know you will not remember me,
but you’ll remember the feeling.
All I can do is, be open to each moment,
and try to create moments of joy with you.

either I can see you as you are, or
try to hold on to the old image of you
and becoming angry or frustrated.

I choose to live in today with you,
even if you are living in yesterday,
but we get to relive it together
here and now.

all we have is this precious moment.
I choose to fill it with love.

Poem: Moments of Joy

glimpses of joy surround us, even midst confusion.
vague memories fade, when we sing and music enters
the soul with crisp clearness and words come out of your mouth.
moments of joy is all we have, whether we have dementia or not.
as I root myself in the moment, I realize that this is all we have
this very precious moment of here and now.