She didn’t like me, and she told me so. Very bluntly. I was naively blind to her frustrations, and she was kettle pot of irritations waiting to explode.
And she did. She pulled me aside to vent her anger leaving me stunned and speechless. As I reeled from her biting words, my mind struggled to understand how she and I got so far off- track.
That was 2 decades ago. We worked together in the mortgage industry, and it was my first experience with staff teamwork, or lack thereof. That season of my life taught me many lessons, not the least of which was love (especially on a team) is work.
These days my experiences with teamwork are vastly different. Not because my team is comprised of Godly Christians who always do the right thing, but rather because my team lives by a code – a code which guides us to interact wisely and avoid those “off-track” moments.
The Code is our set of Ministry Team values at Mountain Lake Church. It sets the tone and trajectory for how we get things done. Each of our 7 core values is important, but I daresay one is critical.
Working alongside people with different agendas, personalities, and strengths presents its challenges, but those challenges are exponentially multiplied when we aren’t honest about how we feel. When our staff relationships become strained, our ministry quality takes a dive. Have you ever found yourself in these situations:
- When that staff member makes a hurtful comment, we give the cold shoulder and avoid him/her.
- When a team member overlooks us, we feel underappreciated and grow bitter.
- When the actions of someone else costs us, we choose not to help him/her in the future.
Conflict happens. On every team. In every church. On every staff. Unresolved conflict leads to an unhealthy team. The key to success, however, lies in our response to conflict.
At Mountain Lake, we’ve chosen honesty as our response. Leaning on Ephesians 4:15, we have agreed as a team to speak the truth, in loving ways, to each other. These conversations are:
- always done in private.
- never “vented” about to other people.
- handled immediately.
- initiated with phrases such as, “You probably don’t realize it, but when you said____, it bothered me.” Or, “I’m sure you didn’t intend any harm, but when you ______, I was a little frustrated.”
ended with grace.
We’ve learned that the best ministry teams are made up of people who love each other. We’ve also learned that love takes WORK. Some teams aren’t willing to work that hard. But the best ones are.
If you or someone on your team is struggling in this area, let me encourage you to be honest, talk through your issues, and offer grace to one another. It’s not easy, but it’s oh, so worth it.
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. — Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)
How well does your team function lately? How have you seen honesty (or dishonesty) play a role in your team dynamics? How have you loved on your team this month?
Published February 9, 2015