By Jim Randall
Teams, not individuals, are the fundamental building blocks of any ministry.
Throughout the Bible you can find examples of teams and team building. The first example of a team is found in the story of creation in Genesis; Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together to accomplish a goal. In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. The word used for God is “Elohim” in Hebrew and it is plural. We see the Father giving direction and the Son and Holy Spirit carrying out His plan (also see John 1:1-14). Noah had his sons as a team to build the Ark. Joseph gave wisdom to Pharaoh about managing the coming famine through establishing levels of leadership (teams) to manage food growth, storage and distribution throughout the nation. Moses, by the wisdom of God spoken through his father-in-law, Jethro, established levels of leadership and teams to do the work of administering the Nation of Israel. Moses is a clear example of what can happen when a gifted leader tries to do everything himself, then receives the wisdom of God about how to become more effective in leading a ministry. Jesus had a team of twelve Apostles who later established teams of elders and deacons for the administration of the Church. When Jesus sent His disciples, He did it two by two. Paul had a team working with him wherever he went with many being mentioned by name throughout his writings. If teams of people working together to accomplish God’s work is our example from the Bible, shouldn’t we also establish teams to help us accomplish our assignment from God? The greatest lesson we can learn from this is, “Don’t do it alone.”
Too many leaders think they must know everything and do everything themselves so their ministry will be successful. That is not the way God has designed His Church to function. It is not meant to be a one-man show. We see that churches in the New Testament had a plurality of elders assisted by deacons. They functioned in teams so that God’s purposes could be accomplished more efficiently. This lesson will reveal both principles of the importance of teams as well as some methods that will stimulate thinking to get you moving in the right direction.
Choosing Your Team
There are a lot of pressures and stresses for senior pastors and ministry leaders, but one of the compensations is this privilege: you get to choose your team. In principle, you should not work with people on your team that you did not choose.
If the team is not in unity, they will not have the level of success they could have if they were all working together with the same heart for the ministry.
The challenge is in selecting the right people. Always remember, “Good is only a substitute for God’s best.” We must always follow to the leading of the Holy Spirit in this God given responsibility. “God always gives the best when we leave the choice to Him.”
In selecting a team, you must first define the job description for each position you need to fill. I find it helpful to write a job description defining the functions of the job you want to fill, not just have some ideas in your head. “A plan (or a job description) is only a dream until it is written down.” This will help you to easily recognize the person with the skills you require.
Ask yourself these questions when you consider adding a person to your staff or team:
- Do they share my values? In other words, are you sure they have not only the same vision but the same values and standards that you set for your ministry.
- Are they FAT? No, I don’t mean overweight but rather, are they Faithful, Available and Teachable? Have they been faithful in small things? Can you count on them to do what you ask? Do they have a teachable spirit or do they want to argue about the way you want things done?
- Do they have the skills necessary to do a good job? Make sure they have the knowledge and experience you need on your team. Some new things can be learned along the way but they must already have a basic skill level that will get the results you want for the team.
- Are they a risk taker? It is better to have someone willing to take risks and grow into something new than someone who always plays it safe and doesn’t use his talent like the servant in “The Parable of the Talents.” A certain amount of stretching (or taking a risk) to reach the next level of performance is necessary.
- Are they humble? Look for people who are willing to be known for who they really are. Humility does not mean that a person will not speak up when they need to say something but rather someone who speaks and acts in such a way that he is not trying to make himself to be better than others.
- Are they honest? Anything less than the whole truth is a lie. Do not allow dishonest people or those who use marginal deception to be a part of your team. Marginal Deception is telling enough of the truth, but holding back part of the truth, so that the hearer draws a wrong conclusion.
It has been said that, “A wise man learns from the mistakes of others. A normal man leans from his own mistakes, but a fool learns from no one’s mistakes.” Much of the teaching you will hear in your life originated from the learning of those who have made mistakes. You don’t have time to make all the mistakes yourself so learn to apply the lessons made from the mistakes of others and build a great team.
For more information on how to build an effective team, click here.