Growing up and a child of missionaries, we had a great tradition. We referred to the other missionaries as uncles and aunts. Being so far away from extended family, we found a surrogate one in the family of God on the field of service. Unfortunately, that practice didn’t always extend beyond the children. There were times when it would have been better if the adults had seen each other as siblings and not merely colleagues.
This is actually good and even biblical advice for the church on God’s mission in the world. We know we are working together to accomplish an important task, but that often results in disagreements, conflicts, and a whole range of other interpersonal relational problems. A lot of that could be avoided if we would just remember we are family. Not necessarily the family in which we were raised. Our biological families are at times unfortunately even more dysfunctional than our working/ministry teams. However, when we treat each other as the family of God we avoid a lot of problems.
We can appeal to our common cause and tolerate different views and understandings. We can work through disagreements without loss of love, with forgiveness for mistakes and celebration when things we thought would not work out… do. Perhaps we would even be able to avoid some of the problems that arise when we work in mixed company. Instead of seeing each other as men and women, we could interact as brothers and sisters.