Setting the Anchor – aka Managing Expectations

Setting the Anchor – aka Managing Expectations

My spouse Graham likes to tell the story of our experience years ago in the appliances section of a department store. A fancy refrigerator caught our attention, and we oohed and aahed over it before looking at the price tag: $6,000. What the what?! Much cursing ensued. How obscene! $6k for a refrigerator?!

Once we retrieved our jaws from the floor, we moved along to the next model on display—still fancy, but only $3,000. “Only.” Much more reasonable. Compared to the one next to it? Sure, more reasonable. But still arguably obscene.

“You know where is the best place to sell a three-thousand-dollar refrigerator?” Graham asks. “Next to a six-thousand dollar refrigerator.” It doesn’t make the $3k price truly reasonable, but it seems so, relatively.

We bought neither of those refrigerators. But the experience has served us well as a lesson in perspective-taking, expectations management, “setting the anchor.”

On June 30th, my 21-year ministry with UUCC will come to its end. And soon you will enter new relationships with other clergy—first with interim ministry, likely for two years, and then you’ll call a new settled minister, who will stay indefinitely. Indefinitely, yes—but likely not for 21 years. 

Twenty-one years is a long time. (Graham and I, who in 2003 were questioning whether we’d ever choose to be parents at all, have raised a human from conception to voting age (with another close behind) in the time I’ve served among you!) I am overwhelmed—in the best, most heartwarming way—to think of all the vulnerable conversations, the children dedicated, the confidences shared, the unions sanctified, the Silent Nights sung in candlelight on Christmas Eves, the newcomers welcomed, the deceased loved ones remembered, the arguments navigated, the insights articulated, the tears wept, the potluck meals eaten … and, of course, all the high-fives and fist-bumps and full-body hugs! We have shared such blessings.*

And twenty-one years is an especially long time to sustain a ministry in a single congregation. You may know that some religious associations deliberately relocate their clergy leadership frequently to mitigate the risks of complacency and to keep the focus of the community on whatever it understands as its sacred center, despite a leader’s unique personality. 

Over these years, we have nurtured a beautiful ministry in its own right. I fully expect that in a couple of years, you will call a minister with whom you will cultivate a deep, powerful, successful ministry—in its own right. It, too, will be full of blessing.

I love you, UUCC. What a hope-full future lies ahead!


* More reflections on our time together can be read or heard in messages I shared in January:


  1. Kathleen Parker

    Yes, I agree with Suzi. And I appreciate your stories about the refrigerators, expectations, and choices. Not always easy, but so important. You have been good for us. We will always want the best for you.

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