Doug Hester, D. Min Ministry Leadership Concepts
• Counseling for Individuals, Couples, Families, and Work Systems
• Leadership workshops for all leaders
• Monthly consultation classes for clergy and others in the helping professions
• Staff development for churches and businesses
• Parenting programs
• Consultation for institutions
• Family of Origin work
• Premarital counseling
Since 1994, I have been conducting leadership classes for clergy and laity based on the ideas of the late Edwin Friedman who pioneered in the application of Bowen Family Systems Theory to leadership. The purpose of these classes is for clergy of all faiths and denominations, and other members of the helping professions to learn how the concepts of family emotional process can be applied to all aspects of their work. The focus of the classes is on the three emotional systems of all clergy: the clergy person’s family of origin, the parishioner or congregation family, and the congregation itself as an emotional system.
Several hundred clergy from more than a dozen denominations and two faith traditions throughout Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Washington have participated in these classes. With the ever increasing anxiety and complexities of life, the theoretical framework promoted by these classes gives a way to think about these life forces, and cultivates a more thoughtful plan for one’s personal and professional life. Many have talked about how this way of thinking has been useful to them. Friedman suggested that family systems thinking cannot be learned by reading a book or attending a single seminar, though that can certainly be helpful. His idea was, “It takes years of mentoring by someone who has internalized family systems theory and intentional work in your family of origin for this way of thinking to become your own.”
The key to leadership is not how a leader manages others but how a leader manages herself or himself. It is not a matter of learning techniques that can be applied to others, but rather is a way of thinking that influences one’s presence. Self-defined leadership is the capacity to define oneself, to regulate one’s reactions to others, and to increase one’s pain threshold while learning to enjoy the pinch and challenge of change. Each class is a mix of theory presentation, as well as family of origin and work systems presentations.