Leadership • Family • Church

Family Process as Common Ground . . .

by Larry Foster

"Nothing," said Rabbi Edwin Friedman, "is more practical than the way we think." A natural systems view of the human condition represents a different order of thinking than is expressed in conventional social science models. Family Process and Natural Systems thinking applies a family model perspective to human relationships and organizations. It is based on the study of living systems, especially the human family.

Rabbi Friedman suggested that at this time in history even change is changing--for the faster. In a millennium of "perpetual novelty" we face an increase in the rate of change. This will have a continuing effect on families, organizations, and environment. Thus, how one thinks and functions, especially pastoral leaders, will be most important. The use of research on family process and the promotion of leadership through self-differentiation offers a mature path to the health and well-being of families and congregations.

The purpose of this postgraduate seminar is to introduce systems thinking and examine how Rabbi Friedman applies it to clergy leadership as an ecumenical experience or common terrain for ministry to the human condition. The seminar focuses on family process, leadership issues, and the congregation as an emotional system. This approach is based on what doesn't change in the process--the "uniqueness and integrity" of leadership through self-differentiation, or a stewardship of the soul.

Life Seeks Life: Promoting Natural Strengths and Abilities

Leadership through self-differentiation from a natural systems perspective promotes self definition and self regulation within work and family contexts. Rabbi Friedman describes three interlocking systems for clergy: one's own family, the congregation, and families in the congregation. They are on the same emotional current. The aim of the seminar is the promotion of strength and capacity for growth, vision, and effective leadership for ministry. This seminar is about health, integrity, self management, and how we lean into life.

Core Concepts

  • The Nuclear Family Emotional Process
  • Self-differentiation
  • Emotional Triangles
  • The Multigenerational Transmission Process
  • Sibling Position
  • The Family Projection Process
  • Emotional Cutoff
  • Societal Emotional Process
  • Supernatural Phenomena (developing)
  • Unidisease (developing)
  • Leadership through self-differentiation
  • Spirituality & Wisdom