The Plus Side of Dysfunction

Have you heard people excuse their mis-behavior by saying, “I come from a dysfunctional family.” It’s time to drop that excuse. I’m not a sociologist, but as I see it, dysfunction can either be constructive or destructive.

What I am calling destructive dysfunction cripples through all forms of abuse. Its perpetrators and victims are unable, or unwilling, to construct better more functional lives because they continue to ‘live the dysfunction’ without the support or resolve necessary to make healthy changes that lead to greater functionality. As a result, another generation is raised in destructive dysfunction and the cycle repeats. But by the grace of God, sometimes people reach the place where they refuse to continue that cycle. So they seek the help they need to make healthy changes, they break the cycle and begin the climb out of the grave of dysfunction.

Most of us (those reading this) were raised in constructive dysfunction. By that I mean, our families were not the picture of perfect mental and emotional health, but we worked through those things that were not ideal. This journey toward functionality—developing maturity through ministry, counseling and growth we construct better mental and emotional lives. This generally happens across the family system, meaning parents as well as children continue to develop greater functionality over time. We grow by the process and through the dysfunction.

Our other institutions function in much the same way. Churches are sometimes lead by individuals who have not matured into healthy functionality and as a result, they abuse their people and the church is dysfunctional. We are seeing more and more that churches have moved to constructive dysfunction models. These churches are thriving today.

I think America is a constructive dysfunctional country. Sure we have problems. We don’t always function in a healthy way. But we learn from mistakes. We get help when we need it. We change laws that are unfair. We clean up messes. We are sometimes too indulgent and permissive. And sometimes we fail to respond when we should. When we elect bad actors, we replace them hoping to do better. When policies get out of line with functionality, we call the congress, write letters and protest at Tea Parties.

America is a great country, not because we are flawless, but because we are a constructive dysfunctional people. Our families are great not because we do everything in the most enlightened and healthy way, but because we have learned that dysfunction is our natural state, but it is not our permanent state. Hopefully we are always learning, always growing, always maturing and becoming better, healthier people. If we as individuals move from destructive dysfunction toward healthy functionality, then our families, our churches and America herself will move that direction as well.

telemicus out

1 Responses to The Plus Side of Dysfunction

  1. Laura says:

    I like this brief take on dysfunction. At a church I attended at one time… I was asked to give a brief testimonial regarding my walk and relationship with christ. This testimonial included a condendesed version of the destructive dysfunction I was raised in. Then went on to talk about my reach to Christ and his grace, as you noted, to – “break the cycle and begin the climb out of the grave of dysfunction.”
    The title of my testimonial…. “Searching” – as I am always searching. Growing & learning… but always searching. —- And always leaning on HIM.

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