Have You Thought About Your Rules Lately?

I learn from observing my rules, rules of others, rules of families, rules of churches, rules of elderships, rules of businesses, and other groups.
By rules, I mean customs, habits, practices, guidelines, and traditions in individuals and groups.

Somewhere I picked up these observations: family (church, business, any group) rules are often unconscious, unspoken, understood, and contradictory. This means — we don’t think about them, we don’t talk about and negotiate them, but if you break one you are in serious trouble.

Our rules are often contradictory…which causes stress. For example my rule of obeying the speed limit by setting the cruise control to one mile per hour under the speed limit is tested by my rules for saving money. When I go downhill, I don’t want to apply the brakes when I start going over the speed limit because that messes up my gas mileage and wears out my brake pads.

Different families have different rules.  When a couple is married, the different family rules conflict.  Family rules often become more important than the Bible–even in strong Christian families.  These norms are often elevated to God’s truth.  They are not just the “way we did things in our family,” but that is the way things “ought to be done.”

Usual Family Rules

Unconscious, Unspoken, Understood, Contradictory

Unconscious
They often originate in our family.

When we unconsciously act from our family script, our choices are limited. It tells us how to be angry, or how to hide, or how to protect others. We learned our lines as soon as we learned to talk (Leaders Who Last, by Margaret Marcuson, page 34).

Without thinking, we’ll do things the way we learned in our family — or the opposite — which are two sides of the same coin.

When people get married, they have conflicting rules competing for being installed in the new family.
When you have an eldership, the opportunities for conflict are multiplied by the number of elders in the group.

Unspoken
Unless the group recognizes that everyone doesn’t understand and value viewpoints and procedures differently, there’ll be open or covert actions and words to persuade others that my way is the “way things ought to be done.”

Understood
Although we haven’t thought about our rules and discussed them, if someone violates our rules, there will be consequences. It will usually start as an inside job, but will work to the outside if enough rules are violated or the same rule is violated several times.

Contradictory
The unthought, unspoken, privately understood rules from two or more will run into each other and I’ll be confused about why other people can’t do it right.

Better Family Rules

Thoughtful, Discussed, Unified

Thoughtful
Each member of the group (marriage, eldership, business, softball team) thinks about what is important to have good group discussions, meetings, and a cooperative working relationship.

Discussed
Discussed and negotiated rules written and agreed to operate for a specified time to be evaluated and adjusted after this trial period.

Focused
Know the purpose of the leadership group and the organization. Eliminate the conflicts of different directions and desire to accomplish the proper direction of the group.

Samples of Rules I’ve Seen

Seth Godin blogs every day. Here is one of his masterpieces from a few years ago:

Community Standards

“What’s it like around here?”

It’s a fair question to ask about an office, a home, a town…

“Why do people act like that, talk like that, treat others that way?”

The only reason they do is because we let them. People can’t violate community standards for long without being asked to leave the community.

Either that, or the standards change (Seth Godin, December 7, 2013, https://seths.blog/2016/12/community-standards-2/

It’s important to think, discuss, and install our rules. If we don’t, the rules will continually be changing — generally not for the better.

(Visited 395 times, 396 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

2 Responses to “Have You Thought About Your Rules Lately?

  • Chip Haslam (Walnut Street church in Dickson, Tn)
    3 months ago

    Well done… thank you…

    • Jerrie W. Barber
      3 months ago

      Thank you for reading and responding.

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