In today’s society, our families are built on the Nuclear model: 1-2 adults and 2.5 children. There has been a lot of debate on what constitutes a family unit, but basically it is accepted that it only requires 1-2 adults, male, female, or both. This has caused problems. When both parents work, a 3rd or 4th adult is needed, child care workers. The child care professionals are just that, professionals that teach your children socialization skills, and basic learning tools. They may (or may not) love your children, but that is not a requirement of the position. They are most times not family. Their main concern is that the facility is not disrupted, and that no child is treated differently than any other child.
In the patriarchal societies of the Middle East, the patriarch, the father figure, was responsible for the whole clan: sons and their wives and children. Technically, the daughters were to be considered part of their husband’s family, but that didn’t always work out. Should she get widowed or divorced, she was disowned by her husband’s family. The father of the clan made sure that his clan stayed together, healthy, prosperous, and righteous. If one were to have an accident that precluded him working, the rest of the clan jumped in to help. If one was attacked by a neighboring group, all joined to rescue and defend. If a member got sick, all would come to help the family get through the hardship, all led and directed by the patriarch. If one got into debt, and have to sell himself into slavery to pay it, the patriarch would buy him back. If one had his land taken from him, the patriarch would get it back–by paying for it or by taking it. The purpose was to make sure all the members of the family and their property were restored completely to the family.
It is for this reason that the eldest son received the lion’s share of the inheritance. Becoming the patriarch of the family was an expensive proposition! The eldest son therefore knew he had to watch his father closely and learn leadership and management so when his time came, he knew what to do. Some patriarchs were wise, some foolish. The foolish ones lost their clan’s name and property. The wise ones increased their holdings, and their names became institutions. Think Abraham, think Moses. The original patriarch took care of his children and grand children, 2 generations. The son took care of his brothers and sisters, his children and grand children. 3 generations. Finding arable land for all these people, grazing land, protection from enemies, and establishing stores to help in rough times, was a full time enterprise. They were effectively the CEO of the group.
How does that apply here? Family units in early America were fairly large. All the brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins, headed by grandpa were in a small area. Hatfields and McCoys. If a Hatfield married a McCoy, it diluted both names. They could not interact. As separate entities, if they had been run by wise patriarchs, they would have had status in the towns, political power, economic power and respect and should have been concerned with preserving and building their communities not decreasing their numbers and threatening the destruction of their own members. But now…I have cousins in Arizona, Wyoming, Minnesota, Montana, and the east coast (not sure where!). Of all the aunts and uncles I had, only one is still living. I have a son in Oklahoma, a daughter in Kearney, a daughter in Yorktown, VA, and only 2 in my metropolitan area. The interaction we have is very small. I can’t help but think my grand children would benefit from my wisdom. (My children can’t help but think they are lucky they got out from under that crazy woman’s roof.) We have never had a family reunion. We have strong feelings for each other, but we’re totally isolated.
My friend Anthony has family all over the metro area. He said that when his family gets together, there can be upwards of 50 people. They all know each other’s names, their occupations, their kids’ names, their financial situations, their friends, their enemies…That is one powerful group! They have yearly reunions. They all care for each other.
On the leadership side, what CEO cares for all their “family?” Their employees and their clients should be treated like a patriarch treats his group. The employees should be treated with respect, paid a living wage, restored to full should something happen. The clients should be treated in a way that honors their status, respects their culture, and yet protects the business. If CEOs around the country had this approach to the businesses, the “make a profit, improve the bottom line and then LEAVE” CEO would be a thing of the past. People would not have to beg for a living wage. There shouldn’t have to BE a minimum wage because the CEO’s want to care for their workers as if they were family. There should not have to be laws regarding ethics and the study of ethics for the same reason.
We see this exact situation in the history of Israel. When God said he was the patriarch and was appointing patriarchs in the form of the priests for his people, the spirit of the law and the law was the same. As the people withdrew from God, more rules had to be enacted because people became more concerned for the letter of the law than the spirit. When the prophesies came about having the law written on the heart, they meant that the law was from love for family–the whole nation as a family. And if the law was written on the heart, those heavy volumes of laws would be unnecessary. Look how many laws we have! How many are prosecutable? Nearly all of them. Yet they can all be boiled down into 2: Love God and do his will, and Love your neighbor as part of your family. If we go back to the patriarchy, but do it correctly, we eliminate a lot of social problems. 1 parent households become rare. Children have a multitude of role models in the family. If one member falls on hard times, the patriarch works stuff out so the family is restored. It can be a community as a family, a church as a family, a village…
The main thing we get is that leadership has a responsibility to restore its members to whole, to teach them wisdom, to protect them from harm.