It’s getting to that time when leaders and teams start to take stock of the year that’s been and plan for the year to come. It’s a hugely important part of the rhythm of a year and therefore deserves a leaders time and attention. Lots of leaders and teams go through the process of asking:
What do I stop?
What do I start?
What do I sustain?
These questions are crucial as they relate to projects, programs, budgets, and strategic plans. Each of these items are tactile and controllable enough to be changed and shaped as needed. However, the most influential factor related to the success of any ministry is the team of people deployed to do the work. If we’re going to assess the actions of our team as it relates to the vision we’re pursuing, it’s crucial that we also assess the balance, gift mix and cohesion of the team of people working together.
My leadership context has mostly been youth and young adult ministry and whilst I have struggled with the tension of different personalities and priorities within teams, a slight shift in perspective has taught me to embrace the enormous opportunities such challenges afford. Allow me to elaborate with an example.
T H E M E E T I N G
The leadership meeting went something like this…
“I don’t care what we do, as long as these students are cared for and are experiencing genuine love and acceptance nothing else matters!”
Then someone else said,
“It’s all well and good that we care for them but if they aren’t learning anything about Jesus and the word of God then we are not really building the foundations of their faith.”
Then someone else said,
“We might be teaching the kids we have but if we’re not reaching out to young people who don’t know Jesus then we won’t have any kids to teach!”
Then someone else said,
“We need to think strategically about how we will develop the youth ministry and make sure that our planning allows for growth and multiplication, that’s what’s really important.”
Yet another said,
“You’re all wrong, the way we’re doing things now needs to change, and if we don’t do it soon, there’ll be nothing to multiply!”
Sound familiar? Most youth leaders and ministers have all been involved in a meeting or two like that. It is frustrating, and can leave you asking ‘How on earth can I get this team to agree on a direction let alone work together?!’ But when we look more closely this is not an issue of disunity or a lack of shared vision. It is more just a reality that every leadership team will face, especially if the team has a diverse mix of gifts and leadership styles.
A P E S T
Through a seemingly conflicted moment we are actually seeing the five fold ministry gifts expressed as described in Ephesians 4:11-13, and if it is understood and embraced rather than resisted, it can serve your ministry in ways that might not otherwise occur. The Apostle Paul said…
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13 TNIV)
Leadership should be diverse in approach and practice. It should have a different emphasis and focus depending on the person, their leadership bias and the season of the ministry. Teams that embrace the difference understand that different leadership styles will be elevated to prominence depending on what is necessary for the time. They will not elevate one gift over another for the sake of the leader and their need to exercise the gift. But they will demand an approach that helps their young people to
‘…become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.’
And from time to time, for each young person the leadership approach will be different. This is why we need to have different leaders with different gifts avoiding uniformity and apparent conflicts. None of us can become ‘all things to all people’; we need each other and our young people need us to know this.
W H A T ‘ S Y O U R B I A S ?
So… the question is, do you know your leadership bias? Are you an apostle charged with the responsibility to see new kingdom works established and multiplied? If so, then you will need the prophets to question your decisions. You will need the evangelists to reach out to and embrace the lost. You will need the shepherds to care for and protect them. And you will need the teachers to help them learn and grow. You get my point… whatever your gift-mix you NEED the others so that,
“…the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (vv12-13)
And surely we can agree that is what we want for our young people.
I regularly meet with many teams that are not well balanced which inevitably hinders their ability to get the job done. Indeed it is completely possible to have too much of a good thing! So take stock of your activity AND be brave enough to assess your team.
So tell me… How do you asses the balance of your team’s gift-mix? What tools or framework do you use? How have you managed the tension between different leaders bias? Let’s hear it!
**If you want explore further your own gifts and how they might fit in a team context you can go to http://www.apesttest.com (not sponsored).