Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Spirituality, Systems Thinking and Healthy Relationships

I spend the last week at Forest Home Ministries in California where I was the evening speaker for one of their family camps. I spend the week exploring the Divine invitation of Jesus to find our way, home, purpose and joy in Him (compare John 14:6 and 15:1-11).

I had the privilege during this week to spend time with Dr. Mark Brewer, Senior Pastor of Bel Air Presbyterian Church, who presented in the mornings. Mark is a marvelously gifted speaker and presented some great insights from systems thinking and his experience in ministering to people in the entertainment industry.

Mark presented five principles of healthy relationships that I think hold great promise for future research and thinking in leadership and spirituality:

  • Relational systems resist change (the principle of homeostasis), even if the change brings about a better system.
  • The neediest person in a system is often not the sickest one (the principle of the identified patient). Energy should be spend on the most responsive person in the system, not the apparent neediest one.
  • The power of one's presence holds great promise (the principle of differentiation). Leaders should be present to their followers by defining who they are and not become part of the problem.
  • When two people are experiencing problems they will include a third person, system or issue into the equation (the principle of triangling).
  • Relational system are more complex than what they seem (the principle of the extended family). People operate in several connected system at a time.

Mark has a great book out entitled: "A Walk in the City: Discovering the Principles of the New Relationships between Urban and Suburban Churches." (ISBN: 0-9704619-0-9) that makes a much needed contribution to our understanding of relational leadership in pursuing Church unity.