- Over the years, those doing pastoral care and counseling recognize that motivational needs vary from individual to individual. Some need gentle support, others need someone to listen, others need a more directive approach and some, frankly, need pastoral support right between the eyes.
- The trick, however, is to recognize which individuals need what approach in order to encourage and support the greatest possibility for healing.
- Finding The Right Match
- The same is true for congregations and organizations. Like individuals, congregations and organizations have different personalities. Some thrive with strong, directive leadership while others, offered the same, strong directive leadership will lash out in uncontrollably anxious reactivity.
- On the other hand, congregations which might lash out in reactivity might find a good “match” in a pastor who is skilled at offering a more gently supportive type of leadership style. The key, of course, is to match the organization with the style of leadership best suited for it.
- The First Step
- The first step in this process is to determine the overall personality of the congregation. Cohen and Cohen in their book, The Paranoid Corporation , provide a helpful paradigm for making this determination. Though admittedly not the most “positive” approach, their assumption is that all organizations demonstrate varying degrees of psycho-pathology.
- This pathological approach is certainly not new. The Church Growth movement had its Church Growth Pathology and a variety of sicknesses which afflicted the Church. St. John’s Syndrome and Koinonitis were two examples from a longer listing.
- Organizational Pathologies
- What may be new is that Cohen and Cohen (hereafter referred to as “Cohen”), self-acclaimed “organizational shrinks,” provide an in-depth discussion of various organizational pathologies. Their discussion provides insight and resources to identify various psychological disorders in organizations and helpful approaches for intervention.
- Though leaders prefer to be thought of in more “noble” terms as change agents able to conquer the world for Christ, Cohen’s perspective makes it clear that all leaders—may have a role as “organizational shrink.” Though perhaps offensive to pastors, it must be admitted that pastoral care is not just a one-on-one individual ministry dynamic.
- Pastoral care also ministers to the entire flock. This ministry entails a great deal of discernment to appropriately address various organizational dynamics which Cohen calls organizational psychological disorders.
- The Diseases: What They Do
- The impact of disease, Cohen writes, is “almost always grave.” Paraphrasing Cohen’s discussion, the impact of these diseases…
- * Destroys member/staff morale;
- * Robs the organization of its productivity and effectiveness;
- * Contributes toward mediocrity and low-quality commitment and ministry;
- * Frustrates and damages the ministries and peace of mind of both leaders and followers;
- * Causes organizations to take illogical, crazy actions;
- * Renders efforts to improve quality virtually irrelevant; and
- * Demonstrates a very high potential for destroying leadership and the organization. (Cohen, p. 6).
- Two Types Of Psychopathy
- Organizations, like individuals, can suffer from two major types of psychological disorders: psychoses or neuroses.
And How To Deal With Them
- Part A: Organizational Psychoses
- Cohen defines “Psychosis” “as an illness in which contact with reality is lost.” Psychotic behavior occurs when incorrect perceptions and inferences are developed, “even in the face of evidence to the contrary.”
- 1. Manic Behavior
- Organizations which demonstrate intense excitement, overwhelming overflow of laughter, and grandiose plans not grounded in reality may demonstrate manic tendencies. Excessive enthusiasm drowns out the more logically-based business protocol. Most characteristic of manic behavior is a sense of invincibility.
- “Soaring on a high of overconfidence, [the manic organization] spends more and more time on grand plans and pays less and less attention to the details that ensure success—or failure. Eventually, failure to take care of some critical detail brings everything crashing down” (p. 11).
- What kind of leadership style can intervene in a congregation that is so overly excited that it is paying little attention to the facts? A direct approach, “You’re doing it all wrong!” will be immediately fail.
- Instead, Cohen recommends an approach which frames intervention as “proposals to help improve performance.” This approach allows the manic activity to be controlled by means of demonstrating and supporting the organization’s best interests.
- In order to maintain this control, a ministry plan should be developed to incorporate items most necessary to enhance the congregation’s health and to keep it from avoiding manic excess.
- 2. Manic-Depression
- Some organizations are characterized by a more bi-polar dynamic. Though they experience the joys, they also experience deep disappointment. Cohen likens organizational manic-depression to
- “a roller coaster ride that goes nonstop and ends by flying off the tracks at high speed, with tragic results” (p. 29).
- Leaders dealing with the alternating extremes between euphoria, hyperactivity and unrealistic expectations and apathy and low-energy can experience a bit of the roller coaster ride, too. In such organizations, one never knows what will happen next. Amid the alternating extremes of mania and depression, grandiose plans are, as Cohen notes, “bound to fail because they are unrealistic and that failure inevitably leads to depression” (p. 30).
- What are leaders to do?
- Obviously the mood swings must be dampened and controlled. Cohen suggests a strong, directive style of leadership. Leaders must “take charge” and exercise a rather strong control. They must “take charge” and keep the focus directed toward the long-term purpose of the organization rather than toward the immediately-gratifying-rush-producing short-term. “Structure, discipline, and controls” are the watchwords for this kind of organizational psychosis.
- R.D. Laing’s remark regarding schizophrenia is most descriptive of the Schizophrenic organization. “Schizophrenia,” he wrote in The Divided Self, “cannot be understood without understanding despair” (Cohen, p. 39).
- What marks this organizational despair?
- “Its conduct is disorganized and chaotic. Nothing seems to make sense. Everywhere you turn, you see illogical, unpredictable behavior” (p. 39).
- Schizophrenic organizations place an enormous amount of stress on their leaders. They “chew people up,” claims Cohen (p. 41). Perhaps the most trying experience for leaders is that
- “manics may not have much of a hold on reality, but at least it thinks it knows where it is headed. The schizophrenic company doesn’t have a clue; worse, it doesn’t seem to care….[they] have no mission, or if they do, it is wholly incoherent” (p. 39).
- Intervention strategies for schizophrenic organizations must begin with the very basics. What are we really trying to do here? What is our mission? After this is defined, it is necessary to define specific, achievable objectives. This is necessary to counteract the schizophrenic organization’s key tendencies: having its leaders and members engage in activities that have little to do with the success of corporate mission. Cohen notes,
- “A subordinate organization, a project, or a program may consume considerable resources while having nothing to do with the mission or even while working against it” (p. 45).
- Leaders of schizophrenic organizations should not try to juggle everything at once amid the chaos. Instead, they must keep the focus on the really important aspects of mission. They must admit that they can’t do everything. They must also be prepared to jettison whatever projects or programs threaten the main, overall focus and objectives. This, Cohen calls the “center of gravity.” The entire organization must be centered, directed and structured around this. Organizationally speaking, there is no other way to keep schizophrenia-generated chaos from dominating the organization.
- 4. Paranoia
- The primary problem with paranoid organizations is that “they not only have enemies, they create them” (p. 51). Environments which create paranoia are characterized by
- * Suspicion
- * Lack of trust,
- * Significant fear of outside intentions, [and]
- * Security as a primary concern” (p. 52).
- Rivalry and discord between members and leaders characterizes paranoid organizations. Unfortunately, Cohen believes that “paranoid behavior may be more prevalent than we think” (p. 55). Many church leaders and consultants would, no doubt, confirm Cohen’s suspicion.
- Most telling of the overwhelming—yet covert—fear is one study of twenty-two organizations. Therese R. Welter’s “They’re Afraid Of You And Their Work Suffers Because Of It” (Industry Week, 1 October 1990, p. 11) revealed that 70% of corporate employees said they feared speaking up because of the possible repercussions.
- Intervention with paranoids requires that attention be given to building trust. Most interesting is Cohen’s suggestion for “primary treatment.”
- “Since the key symptom of organizational paranoia is suspicion and distrust, the primary treatment is to build a sense of trust among members of the organization. Basically, the way to do this is to get them away from the organization so they can begin to relate to one another in different and healthier ways” (p. 56).
- Cohen suggests numerous off-site events and get-togethers: bowling, excursions and other off-site activities. Sometimes paranoid churches take care of this distancing by physically getting away from the organization en masse via organizational splits. These tensions must be constantly addressed. Be casual, go to lunch often with individuals (with no agenda) and, most important, “Just get to know the other person and let him or her get to know you” (p. 57).
- A “Secret Weapon” vs. Paranoia?
- Cohen claims that “the Rule of Reciprocity” is the most effective intervention strategy possible. It can change things almost instantly and put things back on track. The “Rule of Reciprocity,” coined and explained by Professor Robert B. Cialdini at Arizona State University is this:
- “Human beings in our society must reciprocate anything done for them or they feel discomfited” (p. 57).
- This strategy proposes that the leader do something out of the ordinary above and beyond what is expected. Claiming a “99 percent likelihood” that the recipient will comment on the good performance, Cohen suggest the reciprocity card be played at even the slightest mention of “If there’s anything I can do for you, just let me know.” One should move right in on this carte blanche, Cohen claims. The favor should specifically be one that slightly bends the rules in order to initiate or advance the healing process gradually and subtly.
- Ethical considerations aside, this strategy seems very volatile if not outright dangerous. Given the nature of paranoia, any sign of distrust could ignite highly explosive anxieties throughout the entire organization. The leader implementing—or suspected to be implementing—this process would be at ground zero.
- Cohen lists other possible approaches to intervention. “Redirecting,” says Cohen, “gives organization members something new to think about, to distract them from the paranoia” (p. 62).
- “Reality Confrontation” can be effective but only if one can create a non-anxious environment. This approach has at least two downsides. One is that it is dependent on the organization’s capacity to trust authority. Unfortunately, this is precisely the problem in a paranoid organization.
- A second downside is that no matter how well this strategy may be executed, “You may not be popular when you finish…but you have at least dispelled some of the paranoia” (p. 61).
- Frankly, this sounds somewhat troubling–and risky–for organizational leaders.
- Part B: Organizational Neuroses
- Regarding “neuroses,” Cohen remarked,
- “Neuroses, while not divorced from reality, can nonetheless be disabling. Neurotic reorganizations display anxiety, fear, and an irrational focus on avoiding the negative rather than working toward the positive” (p. 6).
Quoting Paul Tillich’s definition in, The Courage To Be, Cohen writes,
“Neurosis is the way of avoiding non-being by
avoiding being” (p. 65).
- Given these definitions, the leader’s task is to deal with an organization struggling with the infamous question, “To be or not to be.” That is the question in neurotic organizations.
- 1. Neurotic Behavior
- Neurotic behavior, Cohen claims, is the most prevalent organizational disorder.
- “A neurotic organization is, more than anything else, afraid. But unlike a paranoid organization, it is afraid of itself and doubts its own abilities to cope and succeed…because they are fearful, people in neurotic organizations frequently start spending more time, effort, and resource in trying to avoid failure than in trying to achieve success.
- This approach ensures minimum success and frequently leads to failure anyway…. The neurotic organization is not going anywhere; it will, unless the illness is arrest, further deteriorate” (Cohen, pp. 65-66).
- Where there is neurosis, self-doubt, emotional paralysis, inability to act and take risks, fear and anxiety take hold. Micro-management dominates; innovation, risk-taking, and having the freedom to fail often succumb to an organization-wide fear which “may be beyond control of most of the company’s managers” (Cohen, p. 68).
- The constant need to “check on” others or be checked by them reinforces this fear. This fear perpetuates what Cohen calls “the relentless search for the guilty and the unyielding condemnation of the innocent.” “Shoot the messenger” is but one example of this kind of neuroticism at work.
- “In their determination to squelch mistakes, neurotic organizations establish rigid rules and policies of supervision that severely handicap any possibility of success. It’s the worst kind of vicious circle. With severe restrictions on their creativity, employees of neurotic organization are unhappy and unproductive; the more creative they are, the more unhappy they become….Eventually most leave, depriving the organization of the very talents its needs to survive” (Cohen, p. 69, italics added).
- Translated into church life, one of the key issues relating to vigor, health and growth in every area of ministry is dealing with the base fear which permeates the organization.
- Unless constructive and effective intervention can take hold, discouragement, disappointment, apathy, inactivity and an endless cycle of back-door losses will continue. For creative energetic pastors and congregational leaders, the deep disappointment of virtually endless failure can be emotionally debilitating and spiritually exhausting.
- What things can be done to deal with the neurotic organization?
- First and foremost, Cohen note, “Complaining never works in a neurotic organization; it only makes the organization more neurotic” (p. 70). One interesting technique mentioned is “overload.” The key here is that if someone wishes to keep looking over the shoulder, give the individual a constant non-stop overload of trivial information.
- Continue soliciting the opinions of the controller so that they finally say “leave me alone. Just do whatever you want!” The key, Cohen notes, is attitude. “Don’t be insolent or disrespectful; be friendly and helpful” (p. 70).
- “Reframing” is another helpful intervention. Dependent on a visionary optimism, reframing is simply built around showing how for every problem there is an equal or greater opportunity.
- Train leaders to bring solutions whenever they present a problem. Lead them to focus on the lemonade and not the lemon. Shifting the focus away from “how will this fail” to “how this will succeed” is another reframing strategy. These and other reframing interventions can remove the “threat of fear” and help stop the proliferation of neurosis. is a key reframing technique.
- Developing social pressures which urge conformity to the anti-neurotic behavior is another interventive strategy. Unfortunately, the existing neurotic groups and cliques in the organization may overtake these efforts.
- 2. Depression
- What is depression? Some define “depression” as “a state enabling 20/20 vision into oneself.”
- Depression is painful. It’s, well….depressing. Those with it know they are depressed and feel guilty for it.
- When people see, visualize and/or dwell on depressive dynamics, indifference, apathy, lethargy, lack of energy and initiative overtake and squelch visionary energies for a preferred future.
- “Diminished capacities of the depressed organization to mobilize its employees and resources toward and common goal and to become productive adds to its depressed state” (Cohen, p. 79).
- Cohen described three steps for treating depressed organizations.
- “1. First, distract the organization from its depression by getting it to focus on something else.
- 2. Then give the organization something to feel good about.
- 3. Finally, build the organization’s confidence by giving it a real victory” (p. 80).
- Whether the depression is short-lived, rooted in a more long-term past, or the result of the after-effects of organizational trauma, these three steps seem to be the most simple and straight-forward means to intervene in depressive organizations.
- Simply said, breaking the cycle of depression involves casting a vision, working to achieve victories in smaller objectives first, then working toward larger objectives, and finally moving forward toward to those BHAG’s—Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals (Cf. Ministry Health article 169 “Get A BHAG” for more information).
- One word of warning. Depression is one of the easiest organizational illnesses for leaders to be sucked into. Protect yourself, Cohen warns.
- “Take whatever steps are necessary to maintain your own emotional well-being” (p. 85).
- 3. Intoxication
- Intoxicated organizations are those who are unwilling, unable, or refuse “to face potential problem issues, regardless of how intensely or passionately they are predicted” (p. 87). Denial is strong. They don’t want to be confused by the facts. In the face of repeated failures, Cohen notes, “it tells itself that everything is going well” (p. 88).
- Like the manic organization, everything may seem to be going well. But, Cohen notes, there’s an important difference between the manic and the intoxicated organization.
- “Manic organizations genuinely think they are invincible; they believe they can accomplish anything.
- Intoxicated organizations may seem confident, but look closer and you will see insecurity and self-doubt. This is really the key to understanding intoxication: The organization becomes intoxicated to mask these shortcomings from itself” (p. 88).
- How can leaders unmask the intoxicated organization? Denial mechanisms will undoubtedly be strong. Confrontation will be rebuffed unless rapport is established first. Cohen suggests that a key way to establish rapport is mirroring.
- “Scientists don’t know exactly why mirroring works, but it does work. It appears to trigger a psycho-mechanism in our body that tells us we can trust someone who appears to be like us. And this mechanisms seems to depend more on visual and auditory cues than on processing of work of meanings by the brain” (p. 93).
- In organizational settings, Cohen suggests this one-on-one approach must be used with the most influential leaders.
- Cohen also suggests “Impact Therapy.” This is simply a “Past-Present-Future” approach. In Charles Dickens’s, A Christmas Carol, Scrooge’s stubborn denial was broken by considering the past, the present, and the future consequences of both. The result was that Scrooge’s state of intoxication was broken. He was open to change. Such can also happen in organizations.
- “It is best if you administer this therapy when you are new to the organization—an unknown quantity. The combination of the unknown and the impact therapy itself greatly increases the power of the treatment….
- You can use impact therapy when you have been an organization’s manager for some time, but,” Cohen warns, “we don’t recommend it in most instances. Impact therapy under these circumstances may cause resentment, disciplinary problems and other troubles….” (p. 97).
- One final intervention is what Cohen calls “perceptual contrast.” This is simply making changes appear easier. But even that is no guarantee of a fail-safe, worry-free intervention with intoxicated organizations.
- 4. Obsessive Compulsion
- Obsessives can’t help dwelling on the same things. Compulsives are enslaved to repeating habitual actions over and over again, even if they don’t make sense. Whether individuals or organizations, both types of Obsessives have an “unreasonable, unhealthy focus on one thing. Most of the time, it is the relentless pursuit of perfection” (Cohen, pp. 101-2).Perhaps the most debilitating symptoms of obsessive compulsive organizations Cohen indicates are:
- * A strong need for perfection;* Work must constantly be checked, re-checked, and checked again;
* Work is never good enough;
* All mistakes (or perceived mistakes) must be punished;
* Tendency to postpone or avoid decisions at virtually all costs.
* There is so much pre-occupation minutiae and details that nothing gets done. (pp. 102-3)
Obsessive-Compulsive organizations, as individuals, are bent on self-sabotage. Driven to realizing fantasy-based levels of perfection, they go on “search and destroy” missions for mistakes. They squelch creativity, initiative and risk-the necessary ingredients to proactive, healthy future-directed decision making.
Intervention requires that leaders empower obsessive compulsives by congratulating them for their mistakes. As obsessive compulsives learn that near-perfect is good-enough, their anxiety may begin to subside. This enables them to begin making decisions, taking risks, etc.
5. Post-traumatic syndrome “Post-traumatic stress syndrome” is “the serous emotional disturbance that follows a traumatic experience.” (p. 115).
The list of events which traumatize organizations and church is virtually innumerable. Pastoral change, sudden exit of pastor, sudden shift in leadership, death of any “pillar” leader, dramatic increase or decrease in members, finances, etc., schism and splits, mergers, reorganization, external events (wars, economy, lawsuit, community factors, etc.), doctrinal dissent, and improper or ineffective intervention in a congregational dysfunction is but a short listing.
Trauma, regardless of its roots or the time passed since its occurring, can affect organizations for years. Cohen notes some symptoms:
- 1) Shock, erratic behavior, or both;
- 2) Over-reference to a negative event in the past;
- 3) Actions that conflict with crucial needs;
- 4) Inability to perform at top capacity;
- 5) Inadequate performance;
- 6) Leaders and others in the organization do their jobs in a daze;
- 7) Routine work gets done;
- 8) leaders and organization are unable to deviate from routines lest they experience some kind of breakdown. (p. 118-9).
Trauma recovery is generally countered by setting progressive goals. Start with a small number of relatively small goals. Then progressively “up the ante” and move to higher goals. The key to this intervention is that it requires a most important step: you must take action. Stay proactively focused on progressively larger and more organization-influencing goals.Cohesion therapy is also helpful, especially in the heat of trauma. The psychological unity with others is, in itself, healing. Within Christian organizations, the fellowship in the Body of Christ promotes even greater healing through the action of the Gospel. Cohesion is, according to military historian and psychologist, S.L.A. Marshall.
- “I hold it to be one of the simplest truths of war that the thing which enables an infantry solder to keep going with his weapons is the near presence of the presumed presence of a comrade” (Quoted by Cohen, pp. 122-123 from Marshall, Men Against Fire. New York: Morrow, 1947, p. 42).
- * A strong need for perfection;* Work must constantly be checked, re-checked, and checked again;
- Cohesion can, Cohen notes, can be accomplished with trauma. “However, traumatizing an organization deliberately can be dangerous” (p. 123). Perhaps the most effective way to build cohesion is the military way. Slogans such as “Be all you can be in the Army” demonstrate that military recruiters understand the importance of cohesion.Cohen summarizes the nature and purpose of cohesion.
- “The point is to aggressively promote whatever it is that your group is best at. You want each person to see constant reminders of the group’s excellence. Gradually the feeling of pride in this one area will bring a mental shift away from the post-trauma” (Cohen, p. 123).
Cohen would suggest that whatever it takes to build pride and visibility, just do it. Buttons, pins, mottoes, logos, organizational name changes, celebrating people are just a very small listing of what can be done.Such items also lend themselves to another form of intervention, “Distraction Therapy.” Distracting the organization away from trauma can be accomplished in numerous ways including:
- * Doing something that has nothing to do with the problems;* Working on an effort totally different from what the organization or its sub-groups expect;
* Directing energies toward working on future problems in the present.
A final note. Whatever intervention is used, post-traumatic stress syndrome “may be felt some time after the original trauma, and it can be triggered at any time” (p. 126). For post-traumatic stress syndrome, time may be the greatest healer.
- 1) Treatment for one disorder may or may not work. If it backfires, the disorder may become reinforced or more greatly entrenched. This may or may not be in the control of those doing the intervention. As much as possible, any intervention should share the same overall objective as any therapist: “Do no harm.”
- 2) Successful interventions may plant the seed for tendencies toward other organizational disorders. If successful, empowerment and deregulation, key strategies for dealing with obsessive compulsives, may become an incipient form of neuroticism. If obsessive compulsives become empowered, they may start looking over the shoulders of others or engage in other organizational illness or excess.
- 3) Any intervention disrupts equilibrium. Any disruption of equilibrium bears its own risks. Leadership does not come without a price. Leaders use discretion to pay that price by careful, prudent and prayerful intervention.
- 4) The healing for any psychosis or neurosis is often a slow process. Healing can be slow. Relapses can and do occur. But intervention must continue and be reinforced by long-term strategies to maintain and uphold organizational health.
- 5) Dysfunctional systems are made of sub-elements and/or individuals which each may bear corresponding dysfunction.
- a) Since birds of a feather flock together, some of these dysfunctions may be deeply rooted into the organizations specific, unique system.
- b) Some of the changes may be possible only to the extent that affected individuals in the organization are willing to change.
- 6) Organizations may have one, two, or traces of all of the above. Because of subjective factors, it may not be readily apparent which psychoses and/or neuroses are predominant. Intervention based on the wrong diagnosis is a real and present danger that must be respected.
- 7) Organizational leaders must be extremely careful not to get caught up in the organization’s respective dysfunction. Having a non-anxious presence, a healthy level of self-differentiation, lack of demonstrable levels of any of the above dysfunctions in one’s personality, and a strong sense of calling can go a long way toward leading and influencing organizational change.
- 8) Organization change can be momentary, short-term or permanent. So can the impact over time. The manner and timing of any changes experienced may be due to many factors-some of which are not even seen or anticipated.
- 9) Timing is everything. Some interventions must be done during the initial stages of leadership tenure; others dare not be. Some interventions require familiarity for greater effectiveness; for others familiarity reduces their effectiveness. One size doesn’t fit all.
- 10) Intervention may change the organization. The immediate, short-term or long-term results may exceed or fall short of expectations.
- 11) Sometimes intervention by itself can bring about change. However, insofar as individuals and organizations tend to persist in their given patterns, sometimes the best and most lasting interventions occur more easily through changes in leadership personnel or organizational members.
- 12) Though an organization is diagnosed properly, not all individuals in the organization share the same diagnosis. Using one style of intervention for renewing the organization can have destructive, anxiety-evoking side-effects on some individuals. If this anxious response is wrongly diagnosed a antagonism, these side-effects of the intervention can undo the intervention. Systems and individuals must both be acknowledged and respected.
- 13) The purpose of intervention is not to “label” an organization. Use of neurotic or psychotic labels it may undermine you. The purpose is not to demonstrate how sick the patient is. Instead, the goal is to motivate them to a healthier level of performance. Thus, before one enters the intervention, one should be committed to implement whatever strategies are necessary and, as necessary, to pay the necessary prices.
- Basic Interventive Strategies
- 1. Organizational
- The bad news is that virtually every organization-congregations notwithstanding–are afflicted with varying levels of the above. The good news is that the effects of the damage caused by these disorders doesn’t have to be permanent. There is help. There are effective and proven intervention strategies. Cohen includes a helpful diagnostic instrument in The Paranoid Organization. There are certainly others, too.
- Perhaps the most remarkable organizational insight is that intervention in each of these methods nearly always finds its solution in the basics: casting vision, making mission statements, defining purpose, setting objectives, monitoring progress, maintaining accountability et al.
- Regardless of the diagnosis, these basic elements are virtually always integral to effective, change-directed organizational transformation.
- Perhaps leaders might be well to focus on the goal, not the dysfunction, in their intervention. After all, those who dwell on what is wrong with them will be doomed to continue to stay “stuck” in their dysfunction. A more “solution-focused,” vision-driven leadership style may really be the most helpful long-term intervention to energize organizational transformation.
- 2. Spiritual
- The insights are not limited merely to organizational dynamics. Each one of these neuroses or psychoses also suggest spiritual strategies, too. As these various dynamics are rooted in the permeative and enduring dynamics of original sin, one can be sure they will always be there to some degree or another.
- Christian leaders who find themselves complaining about this reality ought not be surprised that there really is sin-in various, multiple forms-in their congregations. It’s what Christian ministry is all about.
- Since these spiritual dynamics are present, the remarkable insight relating to spiritual intervention is, frankly, not that remarkable. It, too, harps back to the basics: maintaining the constant awareness of sin and its affects (confession), holding forth the new life to which God has called us through absolution, developing various forms of fellowship groupings, offering quality pastoral care and support groups, and the like.
- The Most Important Intervention
- The most important intervention, however, may be to underscore all of the above is to develop a healthy content base of Scriptural doctrine. With this as the basis, a healthy, Scriptural faith process can integrate each individual and organizational process.
- As individuals and communities understand the process of their unique spiritual journey in the context of the Body of Christ, they can look beyond themselves, their fears and their weaknesses and aspire to greatness in Christ.
- In this understanding of spirituality which gives Christian organizations their enduring legacy in Christ’s gracious Word. It is this distinctively Christian spirituality, found in the written Word of promise to “build His church”, and rooted in overwhelming grace which overcomes any organizational dysfunction.
- Since the Word of God is our strength, whatever organizational-or individual-dysfunction characterizes the organization whom God called us to minister, we have God’s guiding and promise in Isaiah 40:29-31.
- “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV)
- Thomas F. Fischer
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