There have been lots of days when I wanted to hide out in my office and not have to deal with anybody. There have been plenty of times when the people I work with weren’t on my heart, but they sure were on my nerves. I suspect you know exactly what I’m talking about.
But I don’t want that to be true of me. I know that to be a faithful pastor I have to authentically love people. Too many times I have had the head of a leader, but not the heart of a shepherd.
When life and ministry moves too fast, the personal care and attention of those on our team tends to be one of the first things to go. Without even being aware of it, our mindset toward people can slowly begin to change. Instead of seeing them as people, we can begin to view them as tools to help us accomplish a job. Leadership that is Christ-honoring is never accomplished at the expense of those on our team.
A few years ago my wife and I had attended a marriage seminar together with some good friends. A few days later over coffee my friend and I were debriefing the seminar we had attended. And he knew Connie and I pretty well. So, I asked him this question… “What do you think I could do to make Connie feel valued?”
That seems like a fair question… but my friend’s answer was not at all what I expected. He said “well, maybe if you actually start valuing her more, she will FEEL valued”. OUCH!
You see, I was looking for technique and strategy… and my friend was wise enough to point me back to my own heart.
When we talk about building a healthy team, I think the right place to start is with your own heart. Do you LOVE the people on your team? Let that question wash over you for just a minute… Do you really LOVE the people that you lead?
You CAN be an effective leader and NOT love people… you really can.
But you can’t be an effective CHRISTLIKE leader and NOT love those on your team. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr… “power (leadership) without love is reckless and abusive.”
A heart that truly values and loves will find ways to express that love.
If you want to build a team that is healthy and loves to do ministry together… practice the presence of people.
That means people know and feel that our first concern for them is personal, not professional. I am talking about the kind of personal care that regularly communicates “what matters most is not what we want from them, but what we want for them.” “We care about your marriage. We care about your kids. We care about your health. We care about your walk with God. We care about your pace of life”
We must be relational, not transactional leaders.
A hard-driving leader himself, Bill Hybels observes, It stands to reason, then, that a leader sometimes seems to be three-fourths steamroller and one-fourth caring and compassionate colleague. When a leader walks into a meeting, for example, he or she usually has only one thing on the brain: mission advancement.
My wife’s birthday is in early December and she had always wanted to spend some time in New Your City during the Christmas season. We had a room at the Crowne Plaza right next to Times Square. We were having a great time seeing the sights of the city, but after the first day my wife came down with the flu.
She woke up the next day not feeling like going back out into the city. When housekeeping came to the door to clean the room, I met them and let them know that my wife was ill and that we just needed some fresh towels. They handed us some towels and went on their way.
A couple of hours later there was a knock on the door. At the door was someone from room service with a tray. The tray was covered with a white linen cloth and on the tray was a bowl of soup, fresh bread, something to drink and a single flower in a vase. Also on the tray was a card signed by the lady from housekeeping. The card read “There’s no place like home when you’re not feeling well. We hope this helps you feel a little better while you’re in our home.” We were blown away. We had never been treated with such personal care by a hotel.
I remember thinking, “if the Crowne Plaza can treat people with such value and care, why can’t the church of Jesus Christ do the same.” We ought to the lead the way in treating people with dignity, respect, care and love.
And the best place to begin is with your team. May the people you lead always be on your heart.