Margaret Treadwell has a great post in today's Episcopal Cafe titled "Managing Stress in Times of Anxiety." She writes, "All of us bear the brunt of some familial anxiety, and searching for its real cause can be of great benefit. But the best way to reduce anxiety is often to increase one’s basic level of differentiation." In other words, how to not let other people's anxiety increase our own.
This is equally true in congregational systems (families), and is of course, what Edwin Friedman's classic book on family systems "Generation To Generation" deals with (Ms. Treadwell studied and worked with Friedman).
I work with a lot of clergy and Episcopal vestries who spend 90% of their time dealing with issues of anxiety in 10% of the congregation. Can we learn to say, as Ms. Treadwell writes, "Where do I begin and end and where does another begin?"
If I, as a church leader, do not have to be responsible for how you heard my sermon, do I have more time to get on with the business of the church - evangelism, sharing the Good News?