Familial vs. Military

by Jeff Tunnell

“Relational structures” is one of our four cornerstones in building the kingdom of God.   Jesus personifies and demonstrates that reaching the world with the Gospel and expanding His Father’s soveriegn rule in every part of the world started with relationships.  I believe it will end there also.

A familial model of ministry starts with placing value on the person, while a military model begins with the making the person a tool to serve the larger army’s purpose.  A relational structure embraces the person and acknowleges growth toward a commonly desired achievment while the military structure only rewards the person if they reach the objective satisfactorily.

More could be contrasted on the two models.  I would offer that we must love people and use things; not love things and use people.  Our coaching structure will reflect one of these two approaches, which is yours?

6 thoughts on “Familial vs. Military

  • While I was never in the military – flunked the eye test in 1975 – there are some aspects of it that can be useful in the cell model. We can see this in the admiration and appreciation some have some have when reflecting on their military experience. In the cutlure, look at how uniforms are used to provide a sense of community.

    Some “militariness” allows a team to form, become more effective in achieving goals, develop a structure that works and organizes accountability. We worry about it becoming too rigid, but perhaps should also equally worry about the poor results achieved by too little structure and accountability. Finding the balance is hard between unconditional love (family) and conditional love (accountability) as a person grows.

    Certainly the basis of everything is a cell that loves like a family. I think there is a time as a person grows, and also as a disciple grows, where there is a greater emphasis on noble service, on obedience, and on putting Christ first. You don’t get to that stage of maturity unless you’ve been a part of a loving spiritual family … but a desire for “more” eventually comes.

    I wrote what I call a “parable” on this once – http://www.disciplewalk.com/parable_army.html

  • Personally, I have LONGED for the military model to work in the USA! I suppose that if I could simply demand my orders to be followed without question, I might make some progress. But the message of self-esteem vs. God esteem has produced arrogance and independence to the point that denial of self, motivated by love for the cause, has become a rarity, There are many frustrated pastors/leaders asking the question, “Why can’t I get people to DO what the Bible says instead of what self says?”

    The familial model is a slower, relational process that produces long-term fruit. Jesus proves this with His life. Coaching stuctures that are familial will produce fruit IF the coach is sincere in his/her caring for those they lead. This is my hope.

  • Being a Type A personality under the direction of another Type A personality, I believe I have leaned more towards the military model in the past. I a truly trying to learn to be more familial in my approach. But being a “high control” peson, I do have to work at it!

  • I wonder if these two models are mutually exclusive. Paul seems to use language of both family (“household of God”) and military (“good solider”) intermittently. Perhaps there are good aspects along with negative aspects to both models od coaching.

  • Thank you Pam & Allen,
    I don’t believe the two models to be mutually exclusive. I DO believe the effects of living in the familial model will lead to a nearly military obedience to Jesus, but it will be motivated out of LOVE for Him. Paul demonstrated that also, as did the 12 who took their loving obedience to the point of martyrdom.

    “If you love me, you will keep my commands” is a passage that comes to mind.

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