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The Death of any Relationship

I’m sitting in my favorite barbershop.  The man who is about to cut my hair just nodded to me as I walked through the door and signed my name on the waiting list.  He’s an incredible barber but last time I sat in his chair, while he shaved around my hairline, he slipped and sliced his own thumb nearly to the bone.  He stood back quickly put a towel to the bleeding and grabbed some WoundSeal Powder.  I stood up to help him pour the powder over the wound and helped him wrap it up tightly.

Now I sit here and can’t help but wonder if he’s going to slip again.  Sitting in that chair again will be either an act of courage or stupidity.  Either way, if he’s to remain my barber – I’ve got to trust him once again.

I’ve noticed that in every healthy relationship there is one necessity.  I need it for my relationship with my wife.  I need it for my relationship with God.  I need it for my relationship with my team, deacons, and friends.  I even need TRUST in my relationship to my barber.  Trust is the relationship essential.

Core Principle #7 for Ministry Teamwork is Trust is Essential.

At Southern Hills our staff is a team and as their leader I am continually reminding them that…

1. You are Safe Here

When a spouse doesn’t feel safe, the marriage is in trouble.  When a child doesn’t feel safe, the home is headed for problems.  When a staff member doesn’t feel safe, there will be little productivity.  This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hold our team members accountable for their actions, quotas, and responsibilities.  But there should be an overwhelming sense of safety and loyalty if the team is going to succeed.  I often tell our staff that my heart is for us to win together, lose together, and retire together.  There will never be a day when you arrive to surprising sit-down and pink slip.  

Though the Christian church has learned much from the American business world in terms of organization and structure, this is one area that we must see differently.  Instead of viewing my team solely in light of their ability to produce, I choose to view them as fellow soldiers in an epic battle.  One of the reasons military units are so successful is because they view their unit as a band of brothers.  This perspective develops a deep sense of trust among our ministerial team.  This doesn’t mean a lack of professional accountability.  So I remind them… 

2. I’m Your Pastor Too

  • Honest Mistakes need Further Training

Mistakes are made in every job.  This includes ministry positions.  It’s essential for our team to know that they are allowed to make a mistake without feeling the need to hide it.  Your direct supervisor or ministry head is there to graciously confront the problem and provide further training so this mistake doesn’t happen again.  We don’t overlook mistakes.  We don’t overreact to mistakes.  We learn from mistakes.

  • Real Failures need Supportive Redirection

I’ve made plenty of honest mistakes.  I’ve also had my fair share of real failures.  It was an honest mistake when I referred to an Asian woman as Oriental.  It was a real failure the night I used the preaching pulpit to correct a personal offence.  It was helpful to get a supportive reminder from my wife that I’d better use the pulpit for teaching Scripture and speak with the individual in a personal conversation.  

  • Sins need a Forgiving Savior & Loving Pastor

It is essential for a ministry team-member to know they can find help when struggling with a sin.  But often there is a fear of employment termination if someone in ministry attempts to seek help.  In this scenario sin remains hidden and addictions grow more powerful.  Therefore, we make it clear to our team that counseling is available to any team member who may need spiritual support.  If they are unable to find that counseling within our current staff structure we will pay for them to find Biblical counseling elsewhere.

We believe these statements increase trust and help build strong relationships within our organization.

3. Enemies of Trust will be Confronted

Personal ambition, private insecurity, and evil assumptions are all enemies of trust.

There is only one superstar in our ministry and that is Jesus Christ.  Personal ambition is looked down upon.  The desire to climb the corporate ladder is foreign to Biblical Christianity.  Every time the disciples began to express personal ambition by discussing who would be greatest in the future kingdom, the Lord shut it down (Matthew 20:20-28).  This doesn’t mean it’s wrong to shine brightly in our personal areas of responsibilities.  But our goals ought not be individually focused but organizationally focused.  Personal ambition on a team is an enemy of trust.

Matthew 20:24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.

Often when a person is struggling with private insecurity they overcompensate with aggressive behavior.  This is true for the bully in the playground as well as the team member in the adjacent cubicle.  A leader will help each valuable team member overcome their private insecurities by expressing genuine appreciation when goals are achieved and personal training when expectations are not met.  Is this not what Jesus did with Peter?

John 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Paranoia is a terrible poison.  If trust is to be built, evil assumptions must be eliminated.  When we assume that people are out to get us we begin looking for evidence to support this idea.  We then begin to interpret the most innocuous actions of fellow disciples as sinister acts of sabotage.  The Bible tells as that we are to love one another – and love doesn’t project evil intent upon another.

I Corinthians 13:5 Love is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.

We believe that stronger relationships are formed through building trust.  This is why I encourage our staff to intentionally become closer friends and view one another as brothers and sisters (I Timothy 5:2).  I want them to lunch together, laugh together, and live life together.  We should be strategically thinking about how we can build a relationship where trust can flow freely.  When this happens open communication and teammate accountability increases exponentially.  

(There are 10 Core Principles for ministry teamwork that our church staff has adopted. These 10 have helped our staff through our most excited days and challenging setbacks. I’ve already shared the 1st2nd3rd  4th  5th  6th  principles in previous posts. Here shared our 7th – which is Trust is Essential.)

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Posthumously Anonymous
    October 25, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    Is personal ambition really that bad? I mean, what if you are truly the best at what you do? It benefits the organization to have someone like that around, as long as they are not short-circuiting the overall goal.

    I think of it as a cultivation of talent. Feed the beast if the beast is going to motivate the organization. Unfortunately in any kind of bureaucracy, a hierarchy of some sort is necessary. It is the most efficient and rational method of running any organization.

    It is a worthy goal to strive for altruism, but as human beings, altruism is largely a myth. On very, VERY rare occasions, we do something kind without thinking of some sort of reward whether it be a warm and fuzzy feeling or a Heavenly crown. If your ambition is to serve for God and receive Godly blessings, is that wrong? Is it wrong to want to be the best soul winner since the apostle Paul? What if your personal ambition is beneficial to the group?

    Asking for a friend…

    • Reply
      Josh Teis
      October 28, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      This is a good question. Personal ambition is natural, and in some cases should be encouraged. However, when personal ambition supersedes the goals of the team and diminishes the value of those on you team, it has ceased from being an asset and has become a liability. Here is why:

      T.ogether
      E.veryone
      A.chieves
      M.ore

      It really depends on whether you believe the previous statement. I believe that a unified team, utilizing the unique gifts and talents of each team member, will further the organization faster. We achieve more! Others believe the way to success is creating a culture of competition among the team and pitting team members against each other. They utilize our natural proclivity toward self advancement and purposely create division.

      It really is a matter of leadership style, I suppose.

      I also think it matters if you plan on succeeding in a solo career or in a team setting.

      A great golfer or tennis pro doesn’t need to work well with others and create a culture of TEAM to advance and succeed. They can focus solely on competition and still dominate.

      But if you’re going to work on a team, with other people, it seems best to create an environment that believes that teamwork makes the dream work. Great athletic coaches in history like Bear Bryant, Tony Dungy, and Phil Jackson created teams who won championships.

      Furthermore, for those in ministry we have an even better example to follow: Jesus with his disciples. Never did He validate personal ambition but rather taught them again and again to serve one another. IT was only the 12, and never Jesus, who continually discussed who would be greatest in Jesus’ kingdom.

      I hope this helps to clarify my thoughts. thanks for asking

      • Reply
        Posthumously Anonymous Hippopotamus
        November 3, 2016 at 2:40 pm

        “Personal ambition on a team is an enemy of trust.”

        What about someone like Michael Jordan? He is a well-known egomaniac, but because of his personal ambition, his TEAM won 6 NBA championships in 8 years. The organization, team, fans, city, and entire NBA all benefited from his egotism.

        What if there was an MJ in ministry, whose personal ambition was to bring as many people to Christ as possible? Would that not benefit the Kingdom and the church?

        “Personal ambition, private insecurity, and evil assumptions are all enemies of trust” and “personal ambition is natural, and in some cases should be encouraged.” Are these not contradictory statements?

        My friend has lots of questions. Sorry.

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