Life Principles: Interdependence

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August 27, 2012

Image by <a href= At the end of the last century, Frederic Vester demonstrated six principles of optimum biological life, or “biotic potential.” Vester defined biotic potential as “the maximum capacity of organisms to grow and reproduce under ideal conditions.” Christian Schwarz recognized the power of these principles and applied them to churches in his Natural Church Development theory.

These six life principles underlie all of our life-giving actions. I believe that if we apply these six principles to our life and ministry we will increase the potential for health and growth. 

The first life principle is Interdependence. Imagine a person standing on the edge of a pond. In the middle of the pond is a lily pad. The person takes a rock and throws the rock onto the lily pad.  The primary effect is that the lily pad is pushed under the water. However there are additional effects as the waves from the splash ripple out across the pond.

As effective leaders we must be aware that the decisions we make and the actions we take will have an effect not only on our specific target (eg. the lily pad) but also in other areas as well. Leadership that embodies interdependence is aware of both the short-term and long-term effects of the decisions they make.

Take for example a growing church that needs to go from one worship service to two. The initial affect is that there is room for the newcomers which is great. But even if they leave the original service untouched and just add another service later in the day or Saturday evening, it will likely impact not only the leaders who now are doing double duty but it can also affect Sunday School times and teachers for those classes. Additionally it can affect social connecting times before and after services which can in turn impact people’s sense of community.

As you make decisions, here are some interdependent questions you may want to incorporate into the process. If you are a coach you can use these questions to help the leaders you coach make wise decisions.

  • What effect will this decision have on other aspects of our ministry?
  • How will this decision play out months or years down the road?
  • Who will feel the impact of this decision both positively and negatively?
  • How can we minimize the negative effects of this decision?
  • How can we maximize the positive effects of this decision?
  • What short-term gains will we see?
  • What long-term gains can we expect?

During the next month, I want to challenge you to practice asking these questions as you make both ministry and personal life decisions and see the impact it will have for increased health and growth.

Comments (3) - Post a Comment
I am so happy to have read this blog post, and I'm so glad that you plan on writing a series on the six life principles. You've given me some great ammunition for my next ministers and volunteers meeting, and I think a good number of my friends and family members will get a lot out of this post (and those to come) as well.
Katrina, Bible Games Blogger at 3:30pm EDT - September 20, 2012
Thanks for the kind words Jack! This is all Jeannette! Alignment affect=adaptation!
Jonathan Reitz at 10:13am EDT - August 30, 2012
Jonathan, thanks for lifting up the Biotic principles. As I have lived into them for years I am aware of alignment as well as affect. Affect especially unplanned is the classic illustration (love the ripple graphic) but I have been looking at Geese flying as well.
Jack Stephenson at 7:22am EDT - August 30, 2012


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