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The Pattern of Relationships
Christian life is community life. We find God in our relationships with others. In finding God, we find life. In a PFG we are trying to create a sense of belonging, and build relationships.Sometimes group members say 'no one wants to be in leadership'. A good quote to remember at such times is "it took a lot of subordinates not taking responsibility to create the system we have".
If, leadership belongs to the group rather than being invested in an individual, if leadership is about influencing for change, and if leadership happens within a pattern of relationships, then good leadership works at the pattern of relationships. If this isn't happening, people are not as able to trust and therefore, not as able to influence each other (they are more likely to control) and bonding will be weaker.
Keeping the ‘good order’ of things and working together to build relationships is necessary, and that is not necessarily carried out by 'the leader' (group coordinator). Someone in the group needs to keep ‘good order’ and the designated leader needs to recognise this. One of the ordered things in a PFG is the monthly outings. Another is the liaison with the parish at large (including the PP, other PFG's, parish co-ords etc).
Good management, including clear and effective communication, and good organisational methods, are necessary. The way the management happens affects the environment where leadership happens, so it is critical. The healthier the group, the more these responsibilities are shared.
Those with the responsibility of group coordinating should not get sidetracked into putting all the emphasis of the PFG on the monthly outings. Doing that loses sight of our aim of 'building a family'. Whenever a PFG is planning or group coordinators are considering their role, it is important to ask “Is this helping to build a sense of Christian family”. (That’s what we are trying to do ?).
It is important to consider how activities can help to better build the pattern of relationships If there are 22 adults in the group, each of them has a relationship with the other 21 people. That makes 462 relationships. If the activities are not helping people get to know and love one another and build a sense of family, they need to ask ‘what could be done that would achieve it better?
In any review or planning, these four questions will help.
1. What do we want ? (Keep in mind the PFG Aims and Goals)
2. What are we doing ?
3. Is what we are doing, getting us what we want ?
4. If not, what could we do that would help to get what we want ?
This can be applied even to individual activities (such as monthly activities) that are proposed or in considering what things are not happening.
If we are trying to build relationships and a spirit of family, we need to ask:
- Is what we are doing getting what we want ? (bonding, belonging, supporting)
- Are the dynamics within the group working to build relationships ?
- Are there ways that the members can get to know one another better ?
- Are there ways that the members can better interact ?
Those in appointed leadership roles need to see that their primary task is working at the pattern of relationships, not organising monthly activities. Many of the practical reminders fall into place if this is kept in mind.
Helping each other to “tell your story' is the best way of sharing with one another and deepening relationships. Without this, it is possible to stay at the polite stage and to think that a Passionist Family Group is a fun group or a social group.
The gospel calls us to 'ordinary everyday spirituality'. Jesus became human. God is present in our relationships. This highlights that there is much more to PFG life than attending monthly outings. We have to live this in relationships. Our Family Group is a great school to learn better how to live our faith