Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Building Your Ministry, part two (continued) - How to Love on Your Team

If it feels like we're starting in the middle of a post, it's because we are! A really, really long time ago, I addressed point #1 - invest time. As promised, we'll tackle points #2 and #3 here (if I can remember what they are!).

Part 1
Part 2a

In developing a new ministry or in building up a ministry that's already running, a team of committed volunteers (and/or staff) are needed to make things happen. Finding people to join your team may not be as difficult as you think (but that's for another post on another day); but keeping people committed to the team, the ministry, you (their leader), and of course to the work God is doing through the ministry - well that task, it takes hard work!

How to make your team feel loved...

#2 - Pay Attention:

If you are a wife, you already know how important this is. Because the first time your husband does NOT pay attention to the details of life, it hurts! Has your man ever forgotten your wedding anniversary or your birthday? Ouch! Women like to know that they matter. Don't we?

One quick and easy way to show your team that you are paying attention to their needs is to spend five minutes putting their important dates into your calendar - birthdays, anniversaries, vacation days, surgeries, kids' milestones (such as weddings or graduations). Then, let your team know you remember these dates. It only takes a minute to send a greeting card by email. Sometimes, you may want to do something a little "bigger" and get your team in on purchasing a joint gift or throwing a party (big # birthdays and anniversaries, baby showers, etc.).

It's also important to pay attention to what's happening in the lives of your team. At the end of the meeting, when you take prayer requests (isn't that always the way?!), and someone on your team asks for prayer for a sick child or marital struggles, don't just pray for it and forget about it. Check in with her in a few days or a couple weeks (depending on how long-term the need may be) and ask how it's going. Let her know you've been praying. That small act of remembering her needs will make her feel absolutely treasured by you!

As a leader, it's also vital to learn specifics about the women on your team. What is her love language (in other words, what's the best way you can encourage her in her own language)? What are her spiritual gifts (and do you have her serving in a role that's using them)? What are her strengths, skills, and abilities (how can you help her develop these further)? What are her limitations (and how can you help her overcome them or work around them)?

#3 - Listen AND Hear

A new friend of mine is involved with the women's ministry of her church. She is passionate about meeting the needs of the women and drawing them to Christ, and she is chalk full of fantastic ideas on how to make that happen in the particular area of ministry that she serves in. God has called her to this ministry, of that I have no doubt!

My friend, though, is dangerously close to calling it quits and stepping away for good.

You see, when she voices her ideas in meetings, she is discouraged by the "old hats" on the team. They always have a reason why her idea just won't work. Half the time they won't even let her get the whole idea out before they shut her down and move on. When she sends an email, IF she actually receives a reply from her team lead (it's about a 50-50 split), the standard reply is, "Thanks for your input."

How to listen:
- Make eye contact.
- Let the person complete their thought.
- Even if your gut reaction is to reject the idea, take time to consider it.
- Reply to emails promptly.
- Use more words than necessary (while many of us are "get to the point" kinda gals, more often than not our team feels shut down and/or rejected by brief and abrupt conversations or emails).
- Always thank people for being willing to share ideas.
- Remember to whom the credit goes for a great suggestion (record it in your meeting minutes, so everyone knows who is responsible for innovative thinking).

How to HEAR:
- Always follow-up! If you have said you will consider an idea, make sure you get back to your team member once you've made a decision.
- Ask, "What do you think?" Then actually pay attention to what she thinks.
- Wherever possible, allow your team members the freedom to make their own decisions in ministry. (Experiencing our own successes builds confidence. Experiencing our own struggles builds character.)
- Remember that ministry is not just about the women in the congregation and community. As a ministry leader, your greatest ministry is to your team. Your job is to meet their need for validation, mentoring, and encouragement!
- Don't forget that God placed each woman on your team with you for your growth, too! Each of them is there to bring wisdom and discernment. Overlooking their thoughts, feelings, and ideas could just as easily be ignoring where God is leading you!

Want to build a leadership team for your ministry that endures? A team that sticks together? A team that is sold out for your ministry's vision? A team that is loyal and steadfast? Invest time in each member of your team, pay attention to the small details, and learn to listen AND hear what they have to say.

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. ~Romans 12:10 (NLT)

Coming next in the series - part three, A Leader's Heart.

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