A church is not a family, and it is important to understand that. All the talk about “church family” can get in the way of clear thinking, setting of goals and limits and moving forward. At the same time, the principles of leadership are the same in the family and outside.

I recently wrote down some of my principles for parenting teenagers:

1. It is important to have a bottom line, about how they relate to you and function in the household.
2. The more they can make decisions and take responsibility for their life and future the better.
3. You cannot control their behavior, only how you relate to them.
4. Being anxious, nagging, giving them lectures “for their own good” is counterproductive.
5. Respecting the boundary between you and them is good for you and good for them.
6. Having goals for your own life rather than goals for their life is better for you and better for them.

I believe these principles apply to leadership in organizational life as well: having a bottom line, allowing others to take responsibility for their own future, focusing on our own functioning and goals rather than trying to control or convince others, and recognizing that our sense of our self is not depending on the “success” of our leadership efforts.

This last is a very important spiritual question for me. Do I truly believe in grace or not? Do I believe in God’s acceptance of me apart from my ability or success as a leader? If I’m honest, I know I don’t always, but I keep working on it.

3 replies on “How Is a Church Like a Family?

  • Israel Galindo

    Excellent post, Margaret. Any child or teenager whose parents can consistently function in the way you describe will rise up and call their parents blessed.

    Your final question is intriguing. While I appreciate the importance of asking if we believe in God’s grace, another question is, “Do I believe in my own capacity to extend grace?”


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