About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Roles We Play

Yesterday our church had a couple's shower for Allison and Cody as they prepare to be married. I had the pleasure of introducing Allison - actually, I asked to be able to introduce her. Not that she needed an introduction, most everyone knows who she is, but I wanted take the opportunity to tell a few things about her that most people do not know - and I wanted to say some things to those attending from our church. I introduced our church as our "family" - not just our "church family", because they have been precisely that. They have been a part of our kid's lives from the get-go. They have watched them grow up, have been their Sunday school teachers and youth leaders. They've set them straight when they needed to be set straight, and they've encouraged them when they needed to be encouraged. They have been a real family to us and to our kids and I wanted to thank them for their help in raising our kids.

I've often thought about our church as family and like any family they are a bit dysfunctional at times. That's not saying something bad about our church, it's just a fact that every family or church family is dysfunctional to some degree because they're made up of imperfect people.

That got me to thinking. Psychologist have identified 4 - 5 roles that family members play in dysfunctional families. I wonder if the same roles apply in church families? I think they might. I believe I can see a pattern in my own life as to the role I play in my family and the role I play in my church. I may share more about that later.

For now, here are the basic family roles identified by psychologists:

The "Hero". Typically the "good" child who never gives anyone any trouble. They often take on the role of parent or the one who is responsible.

The "Scapegoat" or "Black Sheep" who is blamed for most problems in spite of being the only emotionally honest one in the family. If you want to know what's going on in a family, ask the black sheep - they have nothing to lose by being honest.

"The Caretaker" – the one who takes responsibility for the emotional well-being of the family.

"The Lost Child" – the inconspicuous, quiet one, whose needs are often ignored or hidden.

"The Mascot" – uses their comedic personality to divert attention away from the increasingly dysfunctional family system.

It seems to me that it is somewhat "normal" to take on one of these roles and not necessarily a sign of maladjustment. But then I'm one who always says that perfect mental health is overrated. Even so, there are some pros and cons to each of these roles and it may be a good idea to look at the role we play. Is our role helping us? Hurting us? Helping the family? Or hurting the family. Are there changes that we need to consider?

By the way, I believe we're all a part of the Church family and play a role whether we attend a local church or not.

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this....


Gary Means said...

It's an interesting question. Right now my family is not "involved" in a church. We attend services at a couple different churches. Neither of them feel like a good fit for me.

So right now I feel like I am outside the family, or perhaps like someone who has moved to a different city without family. I feel a bit alone, and to be honest, a bit resentful that what had been my church turned out to be a very dangerous place.

I miss being part of a family. I colead a small group on Sunday nights. It started when my pastor was pressured out of his position. A bunch of us left. Many of us are settling into new church families. But not my wife and I, or for that matter, my former pastor who is a very good friend.

I long to be part of a church family, but wonder if that will happen again. I am leery of the traditional church because I have seen so many meaningless plans and programs which really have had little impact on anyone, even within the church. I am tired of what I left behind. But there's nothing tangible to replace it yet. There has to be more.

so I'm now wrestling with what substantive steps I can take in my own life to respond to what I feel God doing in my heart. But I wish I had more fellowship in the process. My wife and I don't even see eye to eye theologically or ecclessiologically anymore. There are areas of commonality, but we have different emphases. At least we can talk about it, even though that's painful at times.

I guess I haven't really answered your questions, but that's what came up for me. I considered just erasing all of this, but what the heck. You've been my friend for almost eight years. You're used to my tangential rambling.

BarBarA said...

This is really interesting!
I can recognize some people I know and certainly myself...although I think I am three things rolled into one:

A Lost Caretaking Black Sheep.

Bruce said...

Interesting. So, where do you see yourself?

I'm like Bar, more of the "caretaker/black sheep."


Amber said...

I have been several of these roles in past years. For a long time I was the "hero" or the good child who did everything according to the rules.

I've been the "lost child" who was invisible or overlooked.

Now I think I'm a bit of a black sheep and caretaker. Although I doubt if anyone sees me as a caretaker, most of what I do is for the well-being of the church. Even the mission trips I do are as much for the well-being of our people as for those we go to serve.

But I'm also call things as I see them and voice my opinion when I see something I think is wrong in the church. Sometimes that makes people uncomfortable. And sometimes I work around the rules rather than by them, which has earned me the title "rebel" and puts me in the position of a black sheep.

It's weird because I've gone through those same roles in my family as well.

Robert said...

Have you ever checked out *transactional analysis* amber??? They list similar roles as these plus they include parent child critical parent much like freuds id ego superego i found it to be quite accurate in relating ways of relating. Im like you and barbara, i have been a mixture of roles I think a seminar or small groups on this subject would be very revaeling to many people in the church.