Midweek meditation: Helping each other to be better

As some of you heard me say at Fred Buelow’s memorial service two weeks ago, one of the many memorable things Fred said to me in our 15 years working together was “I see my job”–he was president or treasurer at the time–“as helping you be the best minister you can be.” Or maybe he said, “helping you be a better minister,” which in writing looks like a slight, but it was clear from his tone that it wasn’t. He was simply declaring his sincere wish to support me in my work. And he did: through help, challenge, encouragement, inspiration, teaching, and example.

It was a succinct description of how I see my own job. People (including Fred) some to church to be better people. It’s my role to help them do it.

It’s also the role we each embrace by being here. One of the UUA’s principles is “Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth”; at UUCPA, as you can see by reading the heading on this page, we commit to “transforming ourselves, each other, and the world.” So we’re intent on helping each other, while at the same time, the words “acceptance of one another” and the phrase “transform ourselves” steer us away from the temptation to fix other people in ways that other people don’t want to be fixed, and keep us humble. That’s important; I don’t know better than you do what would make you better. But when you identify how you want to be, I’m here to help you get there. And I need your help to get where I’m going.
I’m wondering: How does that affect our interactions with people outside UUCPA? How do we behave towards others if our intention is to help them to be better–even to help them be their best? If we think, especially at times we’re annoyed with someone, not “How is this person affecting me?” but “What can I do or say right now that will help them to be the person they want to be?”
I’ve been trying it on with strangers and casual acquaintances, and it changes me. I think it even makes me just a bit better than I was before. I’d love to hear how it works for you.