My primary job as an institute coordinator is to accompany others on their path of service. This isn’t meant in the literal sense of physically going with people (although it does involve a fair bit of that), but rather encompasses a variety of actions that all come together to create a relationship of encouragement and support.

This skill of accompaniment was one of the primary focuses when I was studying the tenth course of the training institute called Building Vibrant Communities. In one section there was a series of questions about what kinds of activities were a part of this process.

I took these and typed them out into a checklist for myself, which I honestly believe has been one of the most helpful decisions I have yet made in this role. I kept it on hand when making phone calls, when planning meetings, and when assembling my to-do list. I copied it into my bullet journal, so that I’d have it always close to hand. And then I prettied it up a bit to share with others, because people always seem to feel more comfortable with information when there are nice colors and fonts involved.

What is accompaniment-

For those who can’t read the image, here is the full list of the habits and skills of accompaniment:

  • Noticing the smallest progress a friend has made in an act of service and speaking of it in a natural way within a larger context.
  • Building on strength and resisting the urge to focus on weakness.
  • Conveying hope and optimism when a friend is facing difficulty on the path of service.
  • Reflecting with a friend on the nature of his or her contributions, mindful not to elevate the ego.
  • Listening attentively when a friend speaks of his or her experience.
  • Reinforcing the habit of identifying the spiritual principles relevant to each situation.
  • Communicating to a friend confidence in the ever-present assistance vouchsafed by the Concourse on high.
  • Helping a friend to avoid feelings of disappointment when results do not match initial expectations and to take joy, instead, from the act of service itself.
  • Helping a friend to see stumbling blocks as stepping stones to progress.
  • Helping a friend seek coherence between the spiritual and material dimensions of his or her life.
  • Conveying a vision of progress that takes into account the dialectic of crisis and victory.
  • Serving joyfully alongside a friend.

Whenever I get compliments on my service, it’s usually just because I’ve been striving to accomplish the things on this list. Whenever I run into trouble (and I do quite regularly), it’s generally because I’ve failed to pay attention to one or more of them.

If I had to give just one piece of advice to any new coordinator (or tutor, animator, assembly member, or really anyone serving others), it would be to really reflect on and internalize this idea of what it means to accompany others.