Archive for June 10th, 2009

June 10, 2009

Healthy Church? School? Community? 12 ways to tell:

by Rod Smith

Sabotaged? Expect it...

Sabotaged? Expect it...

TWELVE signs or indications of a healthy community (church, business, not-for-profit)….

1. There is focused chaos. The organism is filled with activity as all pursue shared and individual goals with varying degrees of interest and intensity.

2. There are regular conflicts over resources like rooms, cars, buses, schedules, computers, washing machines, washing powder, driers, refrigerators, kitchens, and copy machines.

3. There are frequent tussles over new vs. old, loud vs. soft, younger vs. older, traditional vs. contemporary, and over what does or does not constitute healthy, respectful fun (dress, hairstyles, you name it!)

4. There are leaders, but it can be hard to tell exactly who they are. Leadership in a healthy community is not about age, experience or hierarchy, but about who understands what is needed of a particular leadership role, and at a particular time. In other words, the recognized leaders may “disappear” when person better equipped at a particular task steps up. Real leaders, also being good followers, can be led when necessary and so the community might sometimes forget who the appointed leaders are.

5. There are regular, natural celebrations that occur in spite of a leader’s desires to inspire such celebrations.

6. There are times when it seems impossible to get all the key people together at one time, and so the persons in leadership of different groups and projects continually embrace compromise and approximation. People are not punished for their unavailability but supported for their continued work toward the greater goals of the community.

7. The weak members of a healthy community are embraced, accepted and challenged, but they do not set (or sabotage) the agenda even though they will quite naturally attempt to do so. Strength and vision set the agenda and the weak are challenged to grow and mature and heal and become strong rather than they are encouraged to hold back the communities natural growth. The leaders of healthy communities are often accused of being “insensitive” or uncaring or overly ambitious by persons who are so-called “needy.”

8. Like faith, hope, and love, – negotiation, conflict, and competition are always with us; and the greatest of these is approximation.

9. Flexibility is highly valued by all the members of the community. The use of cars, rooms, times, and evenings are juggled almost all the time in a healthy and growing community.

10. Empathy and consensus are nice ideals, and they are encouraged, but they do not “carry the day.” The healthy community knows that empathy has it legitimate place but tends to be over-rated for its helpfulness. In healthy communities, the leaders believe challenge is more useful than is empathy, and while healthy communities are also to be empathic communities, empathy is not the reason for its existence. Consensus is often the cop-out (“we just couldn’t come to a reasonable consensus”) when leaders lack nerve.

11. In healthy communities, all people’s views and voices are valued, but of course, not all are given equal power or weight. Weight (power) to an idea or a decision is given by how much responsibility a person holds and what their investment is in the organization.

12. In a healthy community, responsibility and authority go hand-in-hand.

Rod Smith is available to help you find greater health in your community.

June 10, 2009

Under- or Over-Functioning….

by Rod Smith

Take up your life

Take up your life

“Under function-ers” and “Over function-ers” usually find each other wildly attractive and often fall in love at first sight. But, alas, sooner or later, one or both will become symptomatic*. “Under functioning” (not playing your part) and “over-functioning” (playing more than your part) go hand-in-hand and, although both can be very subtle**, neither promotes health in any family, church, or organization.

1. Under functioning: expecting others to think and act for you, to read your mind, to predict your needs, to be your calendar. Refusing to exercise authority legitimately yours, avoiding taking a stand or making up your mind, avoiding necessary conflict. Refusing to fill your own shoes.

2. Over functioning: thinking for others, predicting what could go wrong because “so-and-so never does what you ask him to do,” carrying the weight of the family or organization all by yourself, “sighing” through life because others are so irresponsible (or inconsiderate or unmotivated or incapable).

The challenge is clear. Step up to the plate if you under function. Pull back where you run too strong! In either circumstance, announce your intention. Stepping into your legitimate role where you have thus far been absent, or pulling back where you have over-functioned for any length of time, could take people by surprise. Don’t. Announce your intentions to fully play your role, no more, and no less. Remember someone is always “benefits” from your over or under performance and that someone will probably not like the change!

Of course it is so that the same person can both under and over-function in the same relationship. It is also so that some one can over-function at home and under-function at work.

* Lethargy, anxiety, feeling invaded, feeling used, feeling unappreciated or a whole lot more!
** Both conditions can have the appearance of love. “He’s so loving he just lets me make all the decisions,” or “Look at him! He is such a servant. He looks out for my every need.”