Building a Battle-Ready Team
Ministry work affords no shortage of dealing with emotionally volatile people. So if a team member can disagree with me passionately, but without getting mean, then there's a good chance they have what it takes to be firm but loving with church members. Often I will play devil's advocate and just oppose an idea to see if my team will stand up to me. And I'm proud to say, they're becoming great at it.
I didn't always like this aspect of teambuilding. Sure, I would tell people that I welcomed arguments, but secretly I just wanted them to agree with me and do what they were told. After all, I was the leader and about two decades older than most of them. I had to come to grips with the fact that my insecurities were attracting only "yes men," and not high-caliber leaders. I had to work to become more secure in my identity in Christ so I could handle pushback. I'm realizing now that true greatness is less about where I go and what I accomplish and more about who I bring with me on the journey. I am surrounded by leaders who will do far more than I could and I'm grateful to be part of their development. I have even enjoyed being proven wrong when initiatives I opposed turned out to be successes. The only loser is my pride.
These are the three questions I ask to evaluate whether a person is a real team player. I'm sure there are more, and each leader has to develop their own list. Many times people fail in one or more of these areas, only to stick around and get sharper and ultimately become a valuable member of the team. A mentor of mine used to have a framed sign in his office with the familiar inscription: "Teamwork makes the dream work." Under it, he'd pinned a note to the wall, on which he had written, "… If you can survive the nightmare of building a real team!"
Team building is not for the faint of heart. But if you have the passion and patience, it becomes one of the highlights of your ministry and life.
Michael Cheshire is senior pastor of The Journey Community Church in Aspen Park, Colorado.
Copyright © 2012 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
Click here for reprint information on Leadership Journal.