Motivation: The Final Key is Connectedness
The final key of motivation along with autonomy and competence is connectedness. Simply put, in order to do great things, you have to see that you are part of some- thing bigger, way, way bigger than yourself. Without it, our actions, our deeds, our lives, seems small, inconsequential and ultimately unimportant.
I was at Borgia High School for 30 years. The reason I stayed there so long, is that there was something special there, something there that you don’t always find in an educational institution. I remember three painful times of tragedy where people just spontaneously gathered to be with one another and support each oth- er. It was truly amazing and life giving. You wanted to be part of that community because there was strength and goodness there. Oh, we had our faults. And I am sure other schools have similar experiences. But the breath and the depth and the height and the power of the family we surrounded ourselves with was unmistakable. In my three years here at Holy, I have felt a similar connection. It is the feeling that we are part of a bigger story.
The simple truth of classroom teaching is that there are things one can do that can make a student feel like they belong, they belong to the community of the curi- ous, a community that will excite and inspire them to dig deeper, work harder, strive more fully. There are things that one can actively do that create that Educational Family. A parish has that same dynamic. We can create a welcoming environment for others and that will make them want to participate and get involved. It can make all the difference in the world.
This upcoming year, even with all the craziness sur- rounding the new strategic plan, this trait will become particularly vital. Parishes HAVE TO become more open, inviting and engaging. Likewise, there are things one can do in the classroom or in a parish that can alienate, isolate and disaffect others. We create the ex- act opposite environment of what motivates. There are things we can do that can shatter community.
One of the upsides of All Things New is that we are all going through this together. There were two listening sessions in every parish in the Archdiocese, including those without a resident pastor. Even parishes that are technically “safe” (whatever that means) under-stand that, come May, it cannot just be business as usual. As I have preached many times, our attitude towards all of this has to be positive and forward thinking or we are doing it the wrong way. I am not saying that we need to wear rose colored glasses through this process, not at all. But negativity is a cancer that will chew up and spit out our spirit.
Thus, we need to hold on to the truth that we are connected to one another. Knowing the good work you do inspires me to give my best as pastor. I hope I do the same for you. In my three plus years at Holy, I have discovered that our parishioners and staff are all so talented, so generous, so clever. Never ever forget that. It can make the difference between life and death.
One last story. I have many students who have be- come incredibly successful: doctors, lawyers, business people, teachers. I would like to think that I had a small part to play in their success. There is one person who told me that I saved their life. I wish I could say I did something spectacular. I wish I could say that I imparted deep words of wisdom. I wish I could say that I taught this person some profound thought. But the truth is, all I did, was stop this individual in the hallway and ask how their day was going. At the time, it seemed like her response was normal: it’s OK, Rev Kev. I later found out that the act of simply stopping this individual in the hall and expressing a modicum of concern about their life, was exactly what was needed at exactly the right time. What I found out later is that, this individual had been in the throes of deep de- pression and was ready, that very day, to end her life. Melodramatic. Yep. But all it took was an unpretentious greeting, a simple connection to change a life.
The magic of community is that all it takes is a simple “hello” to let another human being realize that they, against all odds, still belong.
They are family. We are connected in Christ