Mindset Matters

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

You might be wondering why we’re talking about personal growth and mindsets here on a blog about how to Transform Your Parish. You might be thinking that this doesn’t matter. You might be thinking that it’s irrelevant. You might have a ‘fixed mindset.’

What do I mean by that? Well, a ‘fixed mindset’ says that things just are the way they are, I can’t do anything to change them, and that’s just how it is. There are a lot of Catholics who have this mindset … “this is how we’ve always done it so that’s how we’re going to do it.”

One of the parishes I work with put this story in their bulletin the weekend before announcing their new plan.

One of my priest friends was telling me about a major dispute that came about in his parish regarding where the pies should be placed in the kitchen prior to serving them. He said one woman who had been a parishioners for several years left the parish because a newcomer to the parish had convinced the rest of the people working in the kitchen that it would be more efficient to put the pies on the counter beside the sink instead of the counter next to the refrigerator.

name withheld to protect those who love pies and order

Although that story probably gave you a laugh, I bet you could also name the man or woman at your parish who just ‘likes the pies where he/she likes the pies.’ It’s fixed. It won’t change.

The alternative is a ‘growth mindset’ where you are always seeking how we can make this better, do something different, change the process to see a better outcome, and grow as a parish.

We might even divide these into two different categories of stubborn and flexible. We could call one a prideful attitude (I’ll let you determine which one I mean).

The ‘fixed mindset’ (or prideful one) thinks this when presented with the opportunity for creating a Parish Vision Plan that involves their ministry: “I’ve been doing everything well for the past 34 years. Our programs serve all those who are interested. I don’t know how much more I could fit on my plate. I do everything that’s asked of me by my pastor, volunteers, participants, etc. Everyone who attends our ministry/programs/events is actively engaged. I can’t worry about those who don’t take advantage of what we offer. The pies must be by the fridge.”

The ‘growth mindset’ thinks: “I hope this will encourage more people to get involved. I’m looking forward to the feedback we’re going to receive from the parish. I can’t wait to try a few new things with the pastor’s permission to do it even if it fails. I’m excited about bringing in new people. I’m happy to learn new things. Let’s put the pies over by the sink.”

The first is detrimental to growth; the second flourishes in it. The first is still doing the same thing ten years later; the second doesn’t even recognize the parish in ten years. The first is people-led; the second is Spirit-led.

What’s your mindset? Choose one place where you can change how you and your parish are thinking about growth and the future!

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