These 10 Rules are a part of my Letter of Agreement with St. Benedict and I think they will help us respect each other and communicate carefully and clearly about our feelings, concerns, and conflicts – which any healthy community will have. Don’t hesitate to come to me with a concern you have. I can’t promise to always agree but I will always listen to you and value your honesty with me.
Here are the guidelines I will follow and that I expect you to follow, many of which come straight from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (6:1-11) and from Jesus, in Matthew 18:15-20, although they were first written in this form by a pastor named Charles W. Christian. I’ve adapted them here.
1. If you have a problem with me, come to me (privately).
2. If I have a problem with you, I will come to you (privately).
3. If someone has a problem with me and comes to you, send them to me. (I’ll do the same for you)
4. If someone consistently will not come to me, say, “Let’s go to Heidi together. I am sure she will see us about this.” (I will do the same for you.)
5. Be careful how you interpret me–I’d rather do that. On matters that are unclear, do not feel pressured to interpret my feelings or thoughts. It is easy to misinterpret each other!
6. I will be careful how I interpret you.
7. If it’s confidential, don’t tell. If you or anyone comes to me in confidence, I won’t tell unless a) the person is going to harm himself/herself, b) the person is going to physically harm someone else, c) a child has been physically or sexually abused. I expect the same from you.
8. I do not read unsigned letters or notes.
9. I do not manipulate; I will not be manipulated; do not let others manipulate you. Do not let others manipulate me through you. I will not preach “at you” on Sunday mornings.
10. When in doubt, just say it. The only dumb questions are those that don’t get asked. Our relationships with one another, at the end of the day, are the most important things so if you have a concern, pray, and then (if led) speak up. If I can answer it without misrepresenting something, someone, or breaking a confidence, I will.