by Peggy Park
When it comes to ministry, it is a privilege and responsibility to pass on what we have learned to those who serve alongside us. As we lead, we must remain open to the suggestions of other members and not cling to the mind-set that says, “We have never done it this way.”
Before we agree to lead in an area of ministry we should carefully consider the guidelines set by those in authority over us. This avoids the struggle of not being able to do the project the way we think best.
Be sure you know how much authority you are being given. Once I served as the prayer chairman for a city-wide evangelistic effort. A local radio station was providing airtime throughout the night for a number of speakers on the topic of prayer. I had already assigned one person to take an hour before I found out it was not my job.
Respect the Opinions of Others
If we hold too tightly to our opinion about how a project should be accomplished we may miss the worthwhile ideas others bring. We should listen to the input of others and pray over it together. If you are still in doubt about the best course to pursue, pray and wait until you have clear direction.
One important test of the sincerity of a suggestion is to find out if the person suggesting will do the work involved in implementation. Some people have great ideas—for someone else to carry out. Each member of the team should take some responsibility for the work to be done with a suggested deadline for completion. Open-ended work often does not get done in a timely manner.
Respect the Commitments Made by Others
I chaired a committee to develop a marriage seminar. Every time I happened to come across the minister I was working with he would start to go over all the responsibilities saying, “You will do this, I will do that,” until it wore me out. He was so detailed I decided he was probably going to do it all because he did not trust me to do my part. I felt I was being drilled. I learned from that to give clear instructions and then release others to do the part they have accepted without frequent prompting.
Respect Your Limitations
One of the best words of advice on leadership I have heard is, “Staff your weakness.” Do not think you have to develop skills in every area. You probably can find people who have the needed ability though it may have to be uncovered and given freedom to develop. A task may not be done perfectly, but you are allowing the person to develop in an area that will be used in other kingdom work. No one is competent in every area. God fits us together to learn from and help each other.
Handle Conflicts With Grace
I was co-chair of Vacation Bible School at my church. On the first day my co-chair changed several important things without asking me. The instructions were already given to the workers, so it was too late for my input. Since this was her first time in this position, I tried to stay in touch with her and set a pattern for discussing everything with her. I had the privilege of modeling co-leadership to her in a gentle way.
In another incident, our music director had been instructed to conduct each group’s music sessions in the auditorium. She decided instead to go to each classroom. I had to direct her to go by the original plan so as not to disturb other classes.
Correct Privately and Gently
Always be considerate of the feelings and dignity of others.
At work a nursing supervisor criticized me in front of everyone sitting at the desk instead of taking me aside to correct me. I wanted to ask her if she knew one of the first rules for dealing with people is not to embarrass them in front of others.
I saw gentleness modeled when an elderly, out-spoken lady I had taken to a meeting bluntly said in front of everyone, “You had too many speakers. The meeting was too long.” I felt annoyed because I had gone to a lot of trouble to transport her a considerable distance. When my friend, who was in charge, sensed my irritation she graciously said to the lady, “Thank you, Helen, for your opinion.” I learned something that day about leadership.
Evaluating the work of a team or committee after it is completed allows for improvements in similar projects in the future. It also provides training for developing leaders. Take a close look at what the group felt worked well and what could be improved. Keep a written record of the suggestions for future projects.
Reap Personal Blessings
We can help future leaders identify and develop their potential when we strive to do the best work possible for the Lord in the assigned task. The ones in our care will remember if they were treated with dignity and encouraged. They will appreciate our patient and diligent attention in helping them develop as leaders by example and instruction. Genuine affirmation can be a great motivator in developing willing, confident leaders for kingdom work as we pass on what we have learned.
Peggy Park is a freelance writer in Lexington, Kentucky.
Leadership Points to Consider:
• Pray over your responsibility and pray before each meeting.
• Guard against being a control freak.
• Trust others to honor their commitments.
• Staff your weaknesses by delegating to those who have the needed skills.
• Respect and listen to your team members’ opinions.
• Guard against being a know-it-all.
• Keep in frequent touch with team members.
• Accept imperfections, as this allows others to grow (and encourages others to accept yours!).
• Do not talk down to others in meetings.
• Embrace the challenge to work with diverse opinions.
• Determine to learn from each experience.
• Give genuine compliments.