It’s the fifth Tuesday. Here is a book I’ve found helpful in understanding groups: churches, families, businesses, and softball teams.
The following are some of the “mustard seeds” I highlighted as I read:
In the systems model, there is recognition of the connections between people. It says that people can only be understood fully within the context of their relationships. No one lives or acts in isolation, and we are all affected by each other’s behavior (Kindle Locations 246, 247).
One of the keys to functioning in a healthy manner as a church is for the leaders to look at the church as a system rather than as a collection of isolated people (Kindle Locations 259-260).
Walter Lippmann once said, “When all think alike, no one thinks very much” (Kindle Location 1277).
When the situation calls for it, people with a well-differentiated sense of their own individuality have the ability and, especially, the courage to stand alone, without any emotional support from others and without needing praise or recognition for what they do. They do not fear criticism, seek to avoid it, or look for approval and support port for the positions they take. They do not need the cooperation of others in order to be a solid self.
This does not mean they will never feel the “loneliness” of abandonment; it simply means they will not be governed by it (Kindle Locations 1339-1342).
Aloneness is not a goal for the better differentiated person. But we recognize that this could be the possible outcome of our actions and are not surprised by it. When acting on our principles and beliefs, and being true to our own understanding of what God asks of us, we may feel very alone; no one may support us; they may even mock us for our beliefs.
There is a kind of aloneness we may seek. That is solitude. We do not seek this sort of time apart from others reactively, against others, but proactively, as a way to clarity our own thinking, beliefs, goals, values, and so forth, in order that we can better connect with people. Solitude is about getting to know ourselves better, so we are clearer about what we have to bring to others. Solitude is a way to cultivate perspective and objectivity (Kindle Locations 1346-1351).
There is a time to lend a hand to a child learning to walk and a time to not take the child’s hand. This has as much to do with the parent’s anxiety about the child falling as with the child’s desire and ability to walk (Kindle Locations 1605, 1606).
So as Christians we want to he sensitive to those times when others are in genuine need so we can respond. But, it is uncaring and inappropriate to function consistently for others when they can manage for themselves, even if they want us to function for them and tell us we are “uncaring” if we don’t (Kindle Locations 1609-1611).
Underfunctioners will be slow to claim their competence in the presence of overfunctioners. They will tend to act as if they don’t know how to do much of anything. It is easier just to be dependent and let others worry about our wants and seek ways to fulfill them for us. We can get angry at them when they fail to guess correctly about our needs, and this stimulates them to work harder on our behalf. (Kindle Locations 1620-1622).
While overfunctioning is often regarded as the act of committed and caring leaders, it is not good for any of the parties. The more people overfunction in the church, the more all suffer from issues of confused responsibility. The clearer members and leaders can be about who is responsible for what, the better the congregation as a whole will function (Kindle Locations 1623-1625).
People who regularly take responsibility for the functioning and well-being of others (rescuers) are the ones who often end up with a breakdown, physically or emotionally, or they burn out and have to drop out (Kindle Locations 1661, 1662).
Differentiating yourself within the group often does not lead to praise from the group but to a negative reaction at first. This reaction is related to the challenge people experience when someone takes a new position within the emotional system. Your new position has an unbalancing effect on the group mobile. It may “feel” wrong to those close to you, and they will react, saying that you are wrong or bad or crazy and that you must change back to how you used to be (Kindle Locations 2224-2226).