Today I gave a talk to a group of volunteers who support senior adults by facilitating small groups. I spoke about overfunctioning/underfunctioning and triangles, and the group seemed to resonate, both in their volunteer work and their personal lives.
It struck me as I was talking, and I said to them, that as useful as these theoretical ideas are, the real question is, can we be a little lighter in our relationships? Can we quit trying so hard? Can we have fun with people, accept them, enjoy them? So often church leaders get so serious about everything, both organizationally and pastorally. So we very seriously try to whip others into shape (overfunctioning) and manage the relationships of others (get caught in triangles).
Of course, often we are catching the anxiety of others who are very serious about the issue on the table: “Pastor, you’ve got to do something about Sue and Frank!” “If we don’t increase giving soon, we’ll have trouble meeting payroll…” It’s easy to get sucked in.
One way for church leaders to develop more immunity to the anxiety of others is to cultivate a lightness of spirit. There are many ways to work on this: meditation, music, humor (not sarcasm, which is anxiety-driven), play. Of course, you still have to practice incorporating that lightness into relationships with others at church, and elsewhere. Fortunately, people will give you ample opportunity to practice – probably daily.