Check out this 6-minute video on the concept of self-differentiation, a concept from Edwin Friedman's exemplary book on leadership, A Failure of Nerve, which has greatly impacted my leadership and influenced much of what I wrote about in Leading Up: Finding Influence in the Church Beyond Role and Experience.
Friedman describes differentiation as "the capacity to be one's own integrated aggregate-of-cells person while still belonging to, or being able to relate to, a larger colony."
So why does self-differentiation matter in youth ministry and church leadership?
Because we're part of the Body of Christ.
We're cells in the body, using our unique gifts and strengths in order to grow and thrive as we realize our innate identity in Christ. There are also plenty of "viruses" and "emotional triangles" in the local church. Self-differentiated leaders can withstand the anxiety and dysfunction of these viruses and emotional triangles, choosing to love and offer patience and grace, not getting sucked into the dysfunction and ending up burned out. By simply being a patient and gracious person, this begins the slow process of moving from a culture of fear and anxiety to truth and love.
It's learning to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. If we don't view and love ourselves just as Christ views and loves us, we are incapable of leading and loving others in His name.
It's leadership from who you are, not by what you do. Embrace your identity as Christ's beloved.
What do you think?