Ministry leadership depends on relationships, as I said in my last post. We all learn about relationships from the family we grow up in. You may have learned in your family:
- conflict is inevitable, or to be avoided at all costs.
- staying distant is a way to manage anxiety.
- you are responsible to help others manage their lives.
All of these patterns can play out at church as will as in the family. Staying connected with family in adult-to-adult ways can benefit your ministry, as you gain more perspective on the people who shaped who you are, and discover more choices in the way you relate to others.
Here are ten suggestions for working on your relationship with your family this summer.
- Schedule a visit with at least one family member, if you haven’t already.
- Try going to visit your parents without your spouse and/or children. See what you notice.
- If you usually go for a week, try going for three days. It’s easier to act like a grown-up with your parents or siblings for three days than for seven.
- Set some goals for your visit. For example: I will work to have at least a brief conversation with each parent without the other present. Or, I will ask at least one question about Grandma, or Uncle Fred. Or, simply, I’m going to try to have more fun this visit.
- If you’ll be in the vicinity of a cousin, try to connect with him or her. It can be less intense than visiting immediate family.
- Try playing dumb while you are there, especially if you are in a highly responsible position in the family. “Gee, Mom, I just don’t know what you ought to do about the house.” Or, “I’m just not sure what is best for Susan.”
- Don’t argue or try to set anyone straight about anything.
- Practice listening more carefully. See what you can learn about family members that you didn’t know before.
- Take breaks, if you need to. If staying in a hotel helps you regulate yourself better, it’s worth the expense.
- Pray for your family while you are there.