Every leader is a steward. God has given you a ministry team made up of people with specific gifts and talents. He hasn’t only done that for your benefit or for your church’s benefit. He wants you to help them grow and develop.
You’ll never know what God wants to do through the people you lead. But you do know that God has given you an opportunity to shape their lives and ministries while they are in your life.
So how can we bring out the best in the people we lead?
During my years in church ministry, I’ve seen good leaders—the kind of leaders who make others better—consistently show five traits in their leadership. I’ll share the first two in this article, and three more in Part 2.
- Accept their uniqueness completely.
Start by recognizing the unique value of each person on your team. It’s not an accident that God made each of us different. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT).
That verse is true for every single person on your ministry team. God prepared good works—unique good works—for each of them. You get the opportunity to be a part of God’s plan to shape those good works.
As you lead people, two enemies will fight against your efforts to recognize their uniqueness.
Too often, we take specific God-given characteristics of certain people on our team and encourage others to model them. It’s easy to always highlight the outgoing person on your staff who makes inviting people to church look effortless. Or, maybe even worse, we compare our staff members to people at other churches.
This can be tough for leaders. Either subtly or overtly, we tend to tell people that they should be like us. And we end up rewarding, promoting, and providing ministry opportunities for those people only.
God didn’t call you to shape people in your own image. You need people around you who have different skills. Your church will be better because of those differences.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:5, “Love does not demand its own way” (TLB). If you love the people you lead, you won’t make them conform to your image. You can’t help them until you accept who they are.
- Affirm their value constantly.
It’s not enough to accept the uniqueness of the people on your team. You need to affirm them as well.
We tend to affirm the people on our ministry teams when they have birthdays, reach employment milestones, or achieve a ministry goal. But most people have a much deeper “affirmation bucket” than we realize. That bucket is never full. You can never affirm someone too much. We all have a deep hunger to be valued and understood.
So, what should you affirm about the people on your team?
- Effort – Your team won’t win big with every initiative you try. If you’re not failing, you’re not taking big enough risks. You want to reward people who will take risks and show effort. If people see you only rewarding individuals when they succeed, they’ll stop trying. They’ll learn that success is all that matters, and they won’t risk failure
- Loyalty – Most of the people on your team could make money elsewhere. Some might even get better prestige if they moved on. So it’s important that you, as the leader, recognize people for their faithfulness.
- Uniqueness – As I mentioned earlier, every person on your team is unique. Take the time to recognize that uniqueness. The unique skill sets of the people on your team are critical to your success. When you see someone serving others in a manner that’s consistent with their God-given shape for ministry, affirm them. Let them know that their contribution, no matter how different, has been seen and is appreciated.
- Ideas – We enhance our team’s creativity when we give them the freedom to present new ideas to us. Everybody on your team is creative in some way. It’s part of what makes us human. Too many churches have policies and traditions that kill creativity. Be a church that affirms it instead. You’ll always get more of what you affirm in others.
Build affirmation into your ministry team’s culture. Don’t just do it when everyone expects it. Demonstrate it regularly, so your team learns to affirm one another.
Read Part 2 of this article HERE.