How our assumptions are pervaded

Implicit Parent-Child Model of Authority: Labelling, Stigmatising, & Excluding

For our first major point, there is the danger of subconsciously holding to a parent-child model of authority that directly contradicts Mark 10:42-45, a text which indicates that church rulers should not ‘lord it over’ the flock, but become ‘servants’ of the flock.

Of course we ‘know all this already’ because these verses are so familiar to us. And yet, sometimes, as the famous philosopher Heidegger pointed out, familiarity creates the illusion of understanding. Heidegger uses the term ‘ambiguity’ to refer to an experience in which it seems as if one has understood everything, when really genuine understanding has not taken place at all.

What we are talking about here is the ‘knowing nod’ we can sometimes receive from those who think they’ve got us ‘sussed’, when in reality they don’t know us from Adam. If they really knew us, we think, they’d never have given us that look. In the same way, we can use a notion like ‘servant leadership’, and give all the appropriate grunts and chuckles of approval, and all the knowing smiles of the ‘already initiated, thanks’. And yet, all along, all that is happening is that we are merely acknowledging the recognition of a familiar phraseology. Very little profound thinking has been done, even though all the posturing would seem to suggest otherwise.

So it is with the notion of ‘servant leadership’. Supposedly, we know it well, but in fact the danger is that there’s a plank in our eyes. The rhetoric is all about ‘servant leadership’, but the reality may actually be a subconscious ‘parent-child’ model of authority. Oh, we deny it of course. But it’s right there, pervading our assumptions and practices. What could constitute clues as to the presence of such a ‘parent-child’ model of authority? There are three clues we can look at in the following posts….

Derek Thomson Unsplash

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