How to Create Successful Working Relationships in Your Church or Ministry
- Thursday, June 12, 2014
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Martin Woodroofe’s new book Beyond Nice: Creating Excellent Working Relationships in Churches and Other Christian Organisations (Lulu Publishing Services, 2013).
Christian organizations – churches or other ministry groups, such as charities – rightly place a high value on loving relationships among the people who work there. But too often, they misapply that focus by making their primary goal being nice to people rather than getting their work done successfully. Doing what’s nice can prevent doing what’s right.
If people at your organization are too preoccupied with how nice they are to people, your people will eventually become frustrated because of how challenging it is to get work done in a workplace like that. You can create successful working relationships, however, if you boldly move beyond just being nice to working together to fulfill your organization’s God-given mission well. Here’s how:
Make relationships central to your organization’s mission and goals. Rather than thinking of relationships as an end in themselves, tie the relationships between the people at your organization into its mission and goals so people will be focused on being productive when they’re communicating with each other. Don’t be so preoccupied with being nice to people that you waste too much time and energy discussing your personal lives and neglect talking enough about the work that needs to get done. Consider such questions as: “What are the mission and goals of our organization, and does everyone know these?” and “Do people feel equipped to fulfill their responsibilities to help achieve the mission and goals?”
Align individuals’ agendas with the organization’s purpose. Some people’s God-given callings will fit in well with your organization’s purpose, but some won’t. When you see that certain people are not really helping your organization fulfill its purpose, don’t hesitate to speak with them about either finding ways they can move the organization forward or leaving to find another job or volunteer opportunity that better suits their callings.
Identify and address your leaders’ blind spots. Your organization’s leaders may have some blind spots – some weaknesses of which they’re unaware – that are interfering with their ability to lead others effectively. Such blind spots include: difficulty communicating with people on a personal and practical level, challenges building teams, an unwillingness to be vulnerable and deal with difficult issues, and impure motives. Figure out what blind spots are interfering with the work of your organization’s leaders, and train them to overcome those weaknesses.
Hold people accountable. Christian organizations sometimes misapply grace by neglecting to hold people accountable for their failures and mistakes. When that happens, the entire organization suffers. Keep in mind that Jesus blended compassion for people with a demand for excellence; Jesus’ example shows that you can love people gracefully while still seeking accountability from them. Make sure that paid staff and volunteers all clearly know their job descriptions, how their work will be measured, and to whom they’re accountable for their work.
Be professional. Sometimes Christian organizations don’t insist on excellence among their workers because they misunderstand what it looks like to fully depend on God. While it’s crucial to rely on God, that doesn’t mean that the best human effort isn’t required. Recognize that God calls all believers to excellence in their work. Don’t accept amateurish standards or efforts; motivate everyone at your organization to give their best every day.
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