By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning and Director of Online Education
Functioning at a high level of differentiation is the golden fleece for most congregational leaders who are students of BFST. Especially in times of acute systemic anxiety and symptomatic reactivity, effective leaders will work on focusing on the repertoire that will help them navigate the storm. In no particular order, here’s a six-action repertoire differentiated leaders tend to follow:
Acute anxiety will tend to focus on the person in the position of leadership (that’s you), so it will feel personal. The common reaction is to feel under attack or betrayed. When that happens, our most important resource goes out the window: our capacity to think through the problem and realistically assess what is going on in the system. When your brains shuts down in the midst of anxiety, pull out the list to reengage that frontal lobe. It may help to write down “The Repertoire” and keep it in your wallet or tape it to your desk at the church office as a reminder for when acute anxiety bubbles up in the system.
Three Responses to Differentiation
Assuming we’ve followed “The Repertoire” successfully and have managed to differentiate from out of our position of leadership in the system, we need to also take into consideration its aftermath. Experienced differentiated leaders know enough not to expect anyone to say “Thank you!” But there are three other predictable responses to a leader’s act of self-differentiation in the midst of an anxious system:
To learn more about systems theory as a resource for ministry leadership attend the Leadership in Ministry workshops, part of the Pastoral Excellence Programs of the Center for Lifelong Learning.
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. Formerly, he was Dean at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer and Don Reagan.
His books on Christian education include Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice), and A Christian Educator’s Book of Lists (S&H), and Theories of Learning for Christian Educators and Theological Faculty.
Galindo contributes to the Wabash Center’s blog for theological school deans.