Thursday, July 28, 2016
Yesterday I told about a couple stuck in a cycle of conflict around a Triangle over drinking or being with the wife and baby. There is so much anxiety in this situation that a serious argument raises the anxiety and make the polarization much worse. Something different needs to happen to relieve the anxiety and cool the situation.
A light hearted Paradoxical Intervention can sometimes break the impasse. The Counselor looked over the interactions, saw the Triangle and realized the couple was stuck. Blame and Shame had been tried over and over and always failed. (Does BS ever work?) So, the Counselor thought that setting up a Paradoxical interaction might break the logjam.
He asked the wife to agree to change the dynamic dramatically. He coached her on how Triangles work and suggested that she could change it if she was real brave. She said she was willing to try anything because the current situation was awful.
He said "Here is a way you can really make a difference. Do you think you can agree to go out drinking with your husband? Be prepared, because he will not agree right away. It will force him to alter his behavior.
She did agree and he did balk. It threw him into a state of almost total confusion. He had that look of a deer in the headlights. He hummed and hawed and argued that she would be very uncomfortable in that place. He said they smoked, and drank, and cussed; all things she hated.
At every point, she smiled sweetly and said, "Dear, I just want to be with you like we were when we dated". He was speechless and powerless. His ploy had failed.
So what happened?
They went to a movie and came home early for romance!
This is a cheery answer to the intervention. They are not all like this, of course, but it sometimes works if we are not too serious.
Get my book, How to be me in my Family Tree, to learn more about healing generations of dysfunction.
In Family Therapy there is a way to get people unstuck from a symptom by prescribing the very symptom he or she is fearful about. Say my client has a fear of panic attacks. I might suggest that she have one at home when no one is there with her.
It is a mischievous intervention that needs to be done carefully but if done right it will bring about real change.
For example, in Counseling a client may take a very hard line against the behavior of a loved one's drinking. Her husband goes to a bar nightly and she reads all the books on the dangers of booze and lectures him with her fervent insights. "You must stay home with me and the baby".
He of course, resists her nagging and goes earlier and stays later to "Just be with my friends". And, every night he begs her to go with him to have fun with these wonderful people. He knows she will refuse because she hates booze!
All her friends, her mother and her Pastor agree with her and attack her husband. The books on being tough on sin tell her to threaten and withhold her loving. She is mad!
His friends all tell him to get rid of this pious shrew that nags all the time. The males tell similar tales of woe about nagging wives and he gets mad!
She refuses to go with him on a "date" and he refuses to stay home. The cycle is repeated endlessly.
One day her friend says, "Go see ______. He is a Christian and a Counselor. He helped me."
she comes to see the Counselor who listens carefully to the situation. He sees that she is trapped in a losing Triangle. She and her husband are in conflict and the bar is one side of the triangle with the baby on the other side. The more she nags the stronger is his attraction to the the bar friends. The more he brags about the bar the stronger she holds on to her baby and home.
Look at the slides. I show the husband as the square and the wife is a circle. I have placed a lighting bolt between mom and dad. When a couple has conflict, they will automatically draw another person or thing into the middle making a triangle.
In this drawing, there are two smaller Dots that are easily drawn to their sides. The Dot above stands for the Bar and Friends. The Dot below stands for the Child she wants to protect. How can they break out of the impasse?
Doing the same thing and expecting different results is insanity!
If it does not work, stop it.
The Counselor suggests a Paradoxical Intervention to break the impasse.
After a long discussion, he coaches her to change the interaction.
"Tonight, hire a babysitter, take a shower, dress beautifully and greet him warmly when he arrives at home. Have nice meal and say 'Honey, you have convinced me that we can have fun together with your friends at the bar. I am eager to be with you tonight and go on our date!'"
It is a paradox to suggest the very thing she fears.
Does the Counselor want her to get drunk? Is the goal to leave the baby more? Will her husband take her along? What will her friends say? What will she do? Can she face her fears?
What will happen?
Tune in tomorrow to find out.
Get our book How to be me in my Family Tree and learn how to get yourself and others unstuck.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
In this world you will have tribulation!
How true. If that is true, I need to ask myself a question: How will I respond? One expert in human relations said we need to "Turn the other cheek" when slapped on the side of the face by a bully.
What??? Is that really possible?
Not unless I change. Right now I would need to change. A lot! Right now I would react with anger and vengeance. I know that because I have Reacted like that before.
What needs to change in me to change my Reaction? My anger, my resentment, my fears, my prejudices, my strong desire to hit back physically.
Know WHO God is---
Know who God has made us
Know who we are in God's Family
See my web page and download the book Power Christian Thinking to learn how to confidently face adversity.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth. He took it home so that he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. On the day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth struggled to force its body through that little hole.
Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. It just seemed to be stuck. Then the man, in his kindness, decided to help the moth, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily.
But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the moth because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
The man in his kindness and haste did not understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle were God's way of preparing it for flight. The small opening was actually forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be light enough for flight the fluid was gone. So, when it had finally achieved freedom from the cocoon, there were no more obstacles to taking off. Freedom and flight would come only after the struggle. By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of strength and health. When it came time to take flight, he was too weighed down by the water still hanging to his body.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. It is the only way to grow up. If God allowed us to go through life without obstacles, it would keep us from taking off. As St. Paul said, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Trials get us ready to soar. They strip us of the weight of sin that hangs on to us from the past. Without them, we will not be as strong as we could have been, or as strong as we need to be.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
There was a young man from UC
Who wanted to help Christian kids see
That the Bible was real
And they could really feel free
Cause Jesus had given the key
And the Spirit had set them all free!
As I stumbled along naively and offered the college kids in our church an open place to read the Bible, pray and hear God for themselves. I ran into a wall of resistance.
Why would anyone resist the invitation of a young couple to meet in homes to study scripture? I could not fathom why any parent or leader could resist, especially when every conversation among the parents of teens included fears of sex, rock and roll and rebellion.
I mistakenly assumed that having two adults with deep Christian roots and advanced educational degrees and experiences would be eagerly welcomed into the arena of influencing youth.
Was I ever wrong!
Did you see the key word in the above paragraph? ASSUMED! That is one of the most dangerous words in the English language.
I did not ask the leaders what they thought of my ideas. I ignorantly ASSUMED that my ideas were good, even great! That led me to ASSUME I did not need to discuss it in length with them.
I was arrogant. Leaders want to be asked for permission to alter the church process, especially if it is a well known program that they will be forced to defend.
Leaders want people to show them deference and be humble. I am not either by personality or by preference. My personality is "Often wrong but never in doubt".
I needed feedback on my plans. The plan included youth and meeting in homes. Both have implications for parents and kids. I did not appreciate those complications. We had one tiny baby but no real parenting experience. Thus, my ideas did need the input of others.
I needed to listen respectfully the leaders and parents. Because I ASSUMED I already had a great idea I was not sensitive to the feelings and insights of others. By moving rapidly to implement my "brilliant" I rather callously ran over the people who were responsible for the church and kids. Listening with Respect and understanding goes a long ways toward accomplishing my goals.
The way I did it, brought resistance and failure. I failed to innovate because of my lack of wisdom and understanding. However, it did teach me to learn how to bring big changes in an organization more effectively!
But, be patient. God is not finished with me yet.
Do you want to influence others to change? See some of the things I had to learn the hard way in our materials and videos here.
Monday, July 18, 2016
I stumbled into church innovation. It was either my stupidity or God's sovereignty or both. Probably both.
For some reason I studied small group dynamics at UC. I also attended a class by the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship on Inductive Bible Studies in Small Groups. They changed my life.
They showed me the power of dialogue in a Bible study! Group dynamics in group therapy can be extremely good and extremely powerful. If it is done right. If done wrongly, the power harms the people.
I also knew that reading, studying and discussing God's word could be powerfully good if done with love and the Holy Spirit. But, in the flesh, it is dangerous.
In my mind, it opened the door for me to lead groups where everyone can share their ideas and insights. The leader did not have to "Tell the students what to think but show them how to think".
This was a radical, innovative idea in 1967!
It was "Disruptive Innovation". Change that is from the bottom up not the top down. It recognizes that every believer is an ambassador for God. It said to the students in our home group that they, not I, could hear God. They do not have to be told by a Pastor or Priest but have only one mediator; Jesus Christ.
What do you believe? Top down, forced learning more of the same stuff that most people do no want or bottom up, self-described learning that the people design for themselves?
We teach self help and self education whenever possible. Take a look at our radical videos and written materials. My innovative ideas got the church upset. Maybe God loves you enough to also make you a troublemaker.
Sunday, July 17, 2016
I am home watching TV and recuperating from an accident that leaves mu unable to use both hands to type. Pain, sadness, grief, fear and distrust are rampant. Every one of those emotions stimulates a Fight and Flight Reaction in many people.
What are we Christians to do?
I am no expert on these things, for sure. I will suggest a few things from scripture.
1. Pursue peace with all people.
2. We are not at war with other people. Our enemy is spiritual not human.
3. Be peacemakers whenever possible.
4. Be at peace ourselves. We cannot promote peace if we are not peaceful ourselves. Peace with God, with ourselves, with others.
5. Do not allow anything come out of tour mouth that does not foster peace. Always bless other people, even those with whom we disagree.
6. Death or life are in our words. Speak life.
7. Pray without ceasing.
8. Practice the Golden Rule.
9. Visit a person, group or church of a differen culture, race, political party, faith, culture, social class.
10. Ask God to guide you.
Check out our web page for materials on peace and grace.www.sweetenlife.com/store
Saturday, July 16, 2016
At Sweeten Life Systems we have a foundation of faith in God's truth in creating every human in His image. The Greek imago Dei, means, "A chosen ambassador for the King".
Every Believer has the mark and authority to be God's Ambassador. That means that everyone, regardless of station, education, location race, or color is called to go into a broken world and represent the King they serve.
We can confidently go into the world of homes, work and society to improve the lot and lives of those we meet. Every believer is an Ambassador taking the Good News of the King to make things better.
We are called to be Family, Work and Social Innovators.
Innovators see things that are broken, messy and out of order and attempt to make them better. Real innovation that brings great positive changes to families, work and society can only happen when we start at the grassroots and expand exponentially.
We are scattered among the people and situations that need assistance and the only way to bring big changes is to unleash every Ambassador and extend their skills, reach and wisdom to unleash others.
I was unwittingly involved in a Social Innovation of massive proportions. It was back in the 1960's and 70's. Baby Boomer began to grow up and question the values, practices and styles of their elders.
Young people began to leave churches as they challenged the 1950 styles of music, preaching, dress, and behavior.
Church leaders, parents and politicians were horrified. As a result, they tended to attack the youth as ungodly, demonic and blasphemous. They rejected the styles and often attacked the kids' music and the behavior.
In 1967 I received a Master's Degree and joined the staff of Student Affairs at the University of Cincinnati. Thankfully I had done a Thesis on Mobs and Riots in Higher Education so I was familiar with the history of social changes. But even that did not prepare me for the radical nature of these students. It was different for all of us.
In retrospect, God was bringing radical innovation to the churches, schools and music. It was very disruptive. Those leaders and churches that heard God went with His plans and grew greatly when so many Boomers came to faith. The groups that fought it often closed down.
Are you ready for God's new Winds of the Spirit bringing new, radical changes to His people and His organizations again? A lot of the Boomers want to return to the "Good Old Days" of Rock and Roll but our kids want something different.
What? We need to hear the Lord or He will move on without us. We need God. he does not need us.
Be at Peace. Jesus has overcome the world!
Support us here.
See this video for how to think about innovation.
We promote bottom up change.
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Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Do you promote your organization?
Do you promote your organization?
The codfish lays a thousand eggs
The homely hen but one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you when she’s done.
And so we scorn the cod fish
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise.
Kurlansky, M. “Cod: A biography of the fish that changed the world” p. 29
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
The world is a very dangerous place. This week terrorists shouting their faith in Allah attacked places where people of all faiths gathered and killed innocent people, including children. It is obvious that obvious that all Muslims are not involved in terror or they would not be victims of such horror.
But it is particularly dangerous for Christians in many places because we are special targets of evil people. The men in Bangladesh captured people and told them to quote the Koran. If the person could and did he or she was spared.
If not, murdered! No wonder so many American Christians are fearful and anxious about Muslims coming to live next door. I am not terribly anxious about immigration but think we must take reasonable measure to check them out.
I worked closely with Muslims in Asia. Karen and I made several friends with whom we made great chats. I found most of them warm, caring and eager to discuss their faith and my faith. One of the leaders made an interesting remark to us.
She: "Why are you so different from other Christians?"
Us: "How are we different"?
She: "You are willing to listen to us tell you about our faith and our lives. Everyone else just wants to preach about their faith. What are they afraid of?"
We cannot share God's love if we are afraid. Fear causes defensiveness and anger. How can we draw people to God? Listen with love.
The same is true in the USA. With all the fears and anxieties about racial trauma, sexual ethics changing, economic woes and world conflict, ii is hard to keep our eyes on the ball. FEAR distracts us when God's grace and mercy can center us on the most important things; the Kingdom of God.
Go to our web page for materials to calm yourself.
Monday, July 11, 2016
The Bible talks a lot about families. The very first institution ever created was a family. Adam and Eve lived in very nice surroundings with everything they needed. Despite that, they wanted even more and ended up in a serious mess. Then their mess led to dysfunctional systems that are still going on.
The Elder Son of the first couple was named Cain. His little brother was Able and sibling rivalry was a serious problem. It progressed to such bitterness that Cain killed his brother. That kind of rivalry and violence continued to plague families and extended families for generations. It was a problem down the line of generations the time of Jesus.
In fact, Jesus used family dysfunction as a parable to instruct us about the Kingdom of God. In Luke 15 we read about a man that had two sons. One decided to challenge his dad and demand his inheritance right then. Such a thing was unheard of because it indicated he wanted his father dead!
Allow me to stop typing so you can visit that place in the Bible and read it for yourself. Read it slowly and carefully. Assume it is the first time you ever heard it.
Who are the cast of characters?
What happened to each of them as the story proceeds?
How did each react with anger or respond with care?
Can you give each actor a name for the role he played?
Can you see this kind of scenario being played out in families today?
What was the purpose of this teaching story?
Come to my classes at the Vineyard in Tri County starting tonight for five weeks.
Get my book, How to Be Me in My Family Tree at the eBook Store.
Saturday, July 9, 2016
That churches in America are stuck in unworkable systems is unmistakable. All we need to do is see the dropouts of children and young people to verify it.
Some people blame the music, some the bad preaching and others are simply wanting to return to the "good Old Days". (That is in 1600)
In my view, the entire system needs a change, especially when it comes to preparing leaders. How is it that schools fail to prepare future church workers for the things they do the most and need to do the best? "What is that," you ask.
Influence people to grow and change. Every church worker must spend quality time with and facilitate the growth and healing of God's people. That requires skill training and on the job experience with great supervision. Neither happen in the preparation of 99% of the church workers I know.
Works withing a different cultural and social situation for the trainee.
Starts at the bottom and masters each step and stage
Careful supervision/feedback each step
Focus on EQ
Follows a DREAMS Format
The chart above indicates how Social Engagement is a superior training method and one based on theory and intellectual understanding. The first is much more effective than the latter.
The results of school without practice.
Gary Sweeten Support us at Sweeten Life Systems, Inc.
Gary Sweeten Support us at Sweeten Life Systems, Inc.
Friday, July 8, 2016
My friend Sadell Bradley is an extremely bright Minister, Singer and Communicator. She and husband Sherman Pastor New Life Covenant Church in Cincinnati. Her article about recent shootings is well done and focused on being a Christian Peacemaker.
Read it and pray.
Our Peacemaking books and videos can be gotten here at our eBook Store and web page.
Thursday, July 7, 2016
A note from the author giving permission to download this material.
You are free to download this draft of my book, which is due for publication by Profile in the summer of 2007. Please read it, comment on it or pass it on to your friends, but I would be grateful if you referenced it, if you use ideas from it in anything you write. If you want to comment on it please do so through the website: wethinkthebook.com
Note* This is written to British audiences with knowledge of India. The spelling and names are a bit strange to Yanks but the main point of the author is interesting.
Chapter 1 – Going Barefoot
They used to have to close when the sun went down, the shops in the little village of Bahurva in the Indian state of Bihar.When darkness fell virtually everything had to come to a halt – work, reading, cooking – because the village had no electricity. Ritma Bharti has changed all that. Largely thanks to Ritma more than 750 solar powered lanterns have been installed in shops, schools, irrigation facilities and medical centres. Now thanks to the lanterns that Ritma built and maintains children learn to read at night, nurses can see patients and shops, like the one run by Ritma’s husband, can stay open late into the evening.
Ritma does not have a degree in solar power engineering. She has no paper qualifications. Indeed, she can barely read, write and count. Ritma is an alumni of a remarkable educational institution in a village called Tilonia, in Rajasthan, called the Barefoot College, which was set up in 1971 by Sanjit Bunker Roy after a famine in Bihar that killed thousands of people. Roy turned his back on his life as the son of a wealthy Delhi family to set up an institution that would give India’s illiterate villagers greater control over their lives by helping them to learn how to provide heat, light, clean water and food for themselves.
Roy could not afford to employ professionals to teach the villagers. Anyway the city-based experts were not equipped for the task. They could only teach in classrooms and they did not want to work in villages with the poor. So Roy trained a small group of from the village - -barefoot teachers and engineers – who in turn went on to teach others, who in turn became barefoot engineers, teachers and doctors in their villages. Two generations of families have now become barefoot professionals of one kind or another thanks to the college. Thousands of poor villagers have acquired the skills to use simple technologies to improve their lives.
Each night more than 4,000 children who tend cattle by day attend night classes with barefoot teachers in education centres lit by solar powered lanterns built and installed by barefoot engineers. They drink clean water from one of the more than 1,737 hand operated water pumps which have been installed since 1979, providing water for more than 325,000 people.Those pumps are maintained by 1,200 barefoot mechanics. More than 1,000 education centres and schools have been electrified by barefoot engineers. The 30,000 sq ft Barefoot College campus was designed by Bhanwar Jat, an illiterate farmer, working with 12 other barefoot architects. Using Buckminster Fuller’s designs, Rafiq, a local blacksmith fabricated more than 150 geodesic domes to be used as schools, dispensaries, telephone booths and community centres.
Out of a mixture of instinct and necessity Roy had hit upon an ingenious self-help solution to rural poverty. But he did much more than that: he devised a new, low cost, way of organising ourselves which could have revolutionary consequences far beyond rural India. His barefoot philosophy scrambles up the cast-iron categories of top heavy, industrial era organisations. In the barefoot world demand generates its own supply, because the consumers can become producers, the learners can become teachers, when they are equipped with skills and tools and motivated to help themselves. The professionals and experts do not have all the answers; committed amateurs – like – Tilonia’s barefoot engineers - can devise their own effective solutions so long as they can get access to the knowledge and resources they need. Roy’s lack of formal resources – no money, buildings, nor professionals to work with – meant he had to become an organizational revolutionary.
When Roy started the Barefoot College in 1971 he was a maverick. But the same philosophy is at the heart of mass, participatory approaches to collaborative working that are being fed by the rise of the Internet and low cost technology, the spread of knowledge and education, the ethic of participation and self-help. High tech versions of barefoot thinking are at work in eBay, the trading system, and Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, Linux, the open source software community and computer games, such as the Sims, blogging, podcasting, Youtube and many forms of citizen activism. Running through them are some common threads: the spectators want to take part, not just sit on the sidelines; the consumers are becoming contributors; the audience wants to take to the stage. Many new organizations, utilizing new technology, will thrive on this spirit of mass participation. If the 20th century was the age of industrial work, mass production for mass consumption, then mass participation will be one of the defining features of the century to come.
The way we organise ourselves in future will not just be an extension of the industrial era, corporate organisations we have become used to – Ford and Toyota, WalMart and Microsoft - with their hierarchy, targets, divisions, civil wars and myriad humiliations for workers and consumers alike. A growing band of organisations in future will resurrect ancient ideas and meld them with new technology. One such resurrection is the idea of the “commons” a feature of village life for centuries: a common resource, like a wood or grazing land, held in loose, self-regulated shared ownership for villagers to graze their flocks on. The likes of Wikipedia and Linux organise their activities around a digital version of the commons. At least one part of our complicated future could be a peculiar mixture of the peasant and the geek, the pre-industrial and the post-industrial combined. That recipe, blending the interactive technologies of the Internet with the habits of the village, may be particularly potent in Asia, where over the next few decades hundreds of millions of people will leave villages to live in cities and connect with one another using mobile phones and computers. They will carry with them village habits and social networks that will combine with the latest wireless and mobile technologies. Out of that new kinds of organisation will be born quite unlike those that grew up around railways, cars and steel, from Detroit to the English Midlands and the Rhineland.
One of the best ways to navigate your way through this world of mass participation and creativity is to adopt the vantage point that Bunker Roy took in India more than thirty years ago. That means flipping the world on its head. Thanks to low cost technology many more consumers can become producers at least some of the time. Good ideas will come from amateurs as well as professionals. Innovation will not just flow down a pipeline, from experts working in their labs and studios, to passive consumers waiting in the line. Innovation is a social, cumulative and collaborative activity; ideas will flow back up the pipeline from consumers and they will share them amongst themselves.T hat is why the next big thing will be us: our power to share and develop ideas, without having to rely on formal organisations to do it all for us.
But to go barefoot as Roy did you first have to think barefoot. Industrial era organisations have enslaved our imaginations. We cannot image being organised without having an organisation. We cannot imagine work getting done without someone being in charge of a division of labour. We have grown up in an era of standardisation: mass production for mass consumption. But we are moving into a time when with the help of cheap, distributed technology there will be more production by the masses, for their own ends. As a consequence, innovation which has long been seen as an elite activity, undertaken only by special people, in special places will become more like a mass activity, often involving large collaborations of professionals and amateurs, designers and consumers, sharing their ideas. Increasingly we will think together.
We-think will change the was we work and consume; it will change the way leadership is exercised and where new ideas will come from. More leaders will have to be like Bunker Roy, inspirational and visionary, but humble and self- effacing. More work will be self-organised and self-motivated to tap into people’s ideas and imagination. Industrial era organisations like to broadcast at people, issuing instructions to their workers and regarding their consumers as targets for their marketing and wallets to be emptied. Barefoot organisations are more convivial. They work through dialogue and interaction, co-creating value with and among their users. Industrial era organisations see themselves mechanistically: they are value chains or pipelines. Barefoot organisations are more like rolling creative
conversations. They are organised without that requiring top-heavy organisation. The claim that we can successfully self-organise ourselves will strike many people as utopian and fanciful, especially in light of the myriad failures of cooperatives and communes. Yet in many areas of our lives we rely on old forms of volunteer self-organisation such as clubs. Scientific inquiry has long relied on the sharing of ideas among peers. In many rural communities mutuals and cooperatives still organise the marketing of agricultural products. Those old forms of mutual endeavour take on a new life when they are combined with the power of the Internet, which allows mass participation to be taken to scale. One of the best models for how this kind of collective self-organisation is another barefoot activity: a day on the beach.
Can Christians do this?
Get our materials on equipping Peer Helpers
Can Christians do this?
Get our materials on equipping Peer Helpers