I should have been fiercely focused, preparing for the event I’m hosting in a few hours about how to nurture diverse contributions within a thriving organization. But… I couldn’t resist a quick peek at online coverage of the royal wedding of William and Kate. Just a few minutes of the ceremony, I thought (with more than a little guilt).
But when I opened the official wedding site, I was surprised that the first thing I saw was the perfect closing quote for my event. “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” It was the opening line of the Bishop of London’s sermon. Then, as I read further, I was astonished to find that the entire sermon offered inspiration for my event. Only a few adaptations were needed: where he talked about “marriage,” I substituted “organization”; where he talked about the Holy Spirit, I preferred the animating spark of life.
Maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising. If you ignore the physical aspect and possibly the timeframe, two people joining together in the shared commitment of marriage is not so different from two or more people joining together in the shared intention and relationship of an organization – at least, if the organization is to be full of the life, passion and authenticity they bring to it.
So, here is how I interpreted the sermon in my mind, as if it were the blessing of a new organization. Can you imagine if we regarded the creation of a new organizational union with such a profound spirit?
The Bishop of London’s sermon at the Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, April 29, 2011
Adapted as if it were the blessing of a new organization
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. [Organizations are] intended to be a way in which [people can] help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves.
Many are full of fear for the future of the prospects of our world but … this is a joyful day! …[T]his is, as every [launch of a new organization] should be, a day of hope.
In a sense every [organization] is a royal [union] with the [women] and the [men] as king[s] and queen[s] of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future….
A spiritual life grows as love finds its centre beyond ourselves. Faithful and committed relationships [created within thriving organizations] offer a door into the mystery of spiritual life in which we discover this; the more we give of self, the richer we become in soul; the more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. In [organizations] we are seeking to bring one another into fuller life.
It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but the hope should be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.
…[B]y making this new relationship, you have aligned yourselves with what we believe is the way in which life is spiritually evolving, and which will lead to a creative future for the human race.
We stand looking forward to a century which is full of promise and full of peril. Human beings are confronting the question of how to use wisely a power that has been given to us through the discoveries of the last century. We shall not be converted to the promise of the future by more knowledge, but rather by an increase of loving wisdom and reverence, for life, for the earth and for one another.
[Organizations] should transform, as [those involved] make one another their work of art. It is possible to transform as long as we do not harbour ambitions to reform…. There must be no coercion if the [spark of life] is to flow; each must give the other space and freedom. Chaucer, the London poet, sums it up in a pithy phrase:
“Whan maistrie [mastery] comth, the God of Love anon,
Beteth his wynges, and farewell, he is gon.”
As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our [colleagues and customers] with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.
As we move towards our [colleagues and customers] in love… the [spark of life] is quickened within us and can increasingly fill our lives with light. This leads to a[n organizational] life which offers the best conditions in which the next generation can practise and exchange those gifts which can overcome fear and division and incubate [the spark of life], whose fruits are love and joy and peace….
In the busyness of each day keep our eyes fixed on what is real and important in life and help us to be generous with our time and love and energy.
Strengthened by our union help us to serve and comfort those who suffer.”