[This post originally appeared as a column for the Center for Healthy Churches.]
Since 1944, Hallmark greeting cards have been advertised with the famous tagline, “When you care enough to send the very best.” Whether encouraging soldiers overseas, cheering up the sick, celebrating the graduate, or expressing your love to the one you’ve chosen to spend your life with, Hallmark promises to help you to be the kind of friend or parent or spouse that you truly want to be… when you care enough to send the very best.
What about the kind of church staff team member that you truly want to be? I don’t think I’ve seen a card for that in the Hallmark store. Not yet, anyway. Give it time.
Until then, there are other ways you can be intentional to C.A.R.E. enough; to take the time and the energy to do the things that deepen relationships and build the kind of trust that is foundational to everything else that you do as a team.
How do you celebrate as a staff?
In the Genesis creation account, God stopped at the end of each day, looked at what he had done and said, “It is good.” How many times in ministry do you finish one undertaking or event only to jump right in to the next? We need the same rhythm in our work that God gave to creation. To celebrate along the way. To remind one another that ministry is not a destination, it’s a journey to be enjoyed together.
Whether it’s the birthday of a staff team member, sharing the stories of the 7th grade campout, or finding a volunteer to lead the kitchen crew, there’s always something to celebrate.
Make it a habit to ask one another, “What are you celebrating today?” Pay attention to your team members. Notice things to celebrate in their ministry. Frame the picture. Tell the story. Find ways to look at your work together and say, “It is good.”
How well do you affirm one another?
While celebration is about what we do, affirmation is about who we are. As Jesus was about to begin his earthly ministry, he heard the voice of the Father, “You are my beloved Son. With you I am well pleased.” As he was about to head to Jerusalem, to face betrayal, suffering and death, Jesus heard the voice of his Father again, saying to those who would walk closest to him in those last days, “This is my Son. Listen to him.”
We all need affirmation. It’s why we count our “Likes” on Instagram and Facebook posts like they were silver dollars spilling out of a slot machine.
Who on your staff team brings a calming presence? Offers insightful observations? Lightens heavy conversations with humor? Who pays attention to the details? Or remembers to include everyone?
Everyone brings a gift to the team that makes the team stronger. Too often we take these things for granted. We all need to hear that what we do matters.
Regular and consistent affirmation helps us to lean into the work that is ahead of us. It’s not to puff us up; it’s to remind us who and whose we are and the divine gift that we bring.
How deeply do you respect each other?
Respect can take many forms. We can respect someone’s position or their talents. We can respect the boundaries of one ministry area from another. All of those are good things.
One of the most challenging ways that we respect one another is by speaking the truth in love – emphasis on the ‘in love’ part. To C.A.R.E. enough to say hard things to one another. That involves risk and humility and a good bit of self-examination. Too often we sweep a lot under the rug, pretending there’s not a big lump under the carpet. Only to be resentful when we trip over it again.
A solid foundation of trust is built when we work through difficult situations and subjects because we want the best for one another.
A good word from Cinderella – “Have courage and be kind.”
I ran my first triathlon last weekend. Of the swimming, biking and running, running is my least favorite part of the race. And it comes at the end. By the time I started the 5K, I was already tired. The first mile took forever and there was little shade from the heat. I just wanted to stop and walk the rest of the course. But along the way kids from the high school handed out ice cold cups of water. Whether as a drink or as a shower over the top of my head, they were a welcomed gift. They kept me going until the end, along with my family who had spread themselves out over the last quarter mile to cheer me on.
There are days in ministry where we just don’t want to run anymore. We’re thirsty, and the finish line feels forever away. Sometimes you’re the runner and sometimes you need to be the cheering squad.
How do you offer your colleagues a cup of cold water? How do you cheer them on when there’s still a long way to go? How do you show up along the way to remind them that they don’t run alone?
How will you C.A.R.E. enough to be the very best staff team you can be?