Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “Teamwork”

Disputes and Disagreements

Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers:  “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.”  This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them.  So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.    (Acts 15:1–2)

We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said.   (Acts 15:24)

Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.  They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.   (Acts 15:37–40)

Disputes, disagreements, and debates – all normal for Kingdom leaders.  Nothing new under the sun.

In the first incident we have Paul and Barnabas entering into a debate on the purity of the gospel – a doctrinal issue.  This dispute could not be settled locally, thus a meeting was set to determine the solution to the problem.  Yes, even in the early Church meetings were common.

Arguments were presented and discussed and a final decision reached.  This decision was placed into writing and hand-delivered to the offended parties with some explanation of background and future expectations articulated.  A process to determine a solution to the problem was well executed.

The second disagreement was over a personnel decision – John Mark – and involved Paul and Barnabas.  This was resolved locally with a decision to go their separate ways.  Who was right or were they both wrong?  Perhaps it depends on one’s perspective.

Barnabas saw the potential in John Mark (his nephew) and was willing to give him another opportunity, not holding his past failure against him.  Paul, perhaps looking at this decision from a task orientation, did not want to jeopardize the mission by having a team member who had not proven himself faithful previously.

Perhaps they were both right.  Barnabas’ investment in John Mark proves well worth the time as Paul admits later in 2 Timothy 4:11.  Paul’s second missionary tour also proved profitable as he took Silas with him and opened Europe to the gospel.

Not all disagreements can end well.  But God’s purposes are not frustrated by these challenges.  Do your best to live at peace with all men (Romans 12:18) and trust Him for the outcomes.

Indignation — Now I’m REALLY Ticked Off!

Emotions – they’re morally neutral–not good bad, or purple.  All of us have them and some of us are better at recognizing and expressing them in a healthy way.  When it comes to what we would perceive as those emotions that are considered “negative” emotions, it’s what we do with them that matters.

Anger is one such emotion that is often seen as a negative emotion.  We mistakenly believe that if I am more mature or more spiritual that I’ll somehow be freed from this feeling of anger.  Just becoming a little “ticked off” as someone or something raises the blood pressure and we can feel “frustrated.”  It’s anger but at a somewhat lesser degree.

But if the person has broken a trust, betrayed a confidence placed in them, or their failure leads to major negative impact, we can move beyond frustration or anger and move to indignation.  The root English word is the same we use for the color indigo – a purple, reddish color.  Have you ever been so angry that you turn purple-red and feel like you are ready to explode?  That’s indignation!

In Mark 10:13-14 (NIV) we read the following about Jesus’ emotions:  “People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant (emphasis added).  We explored this in last week’s blog.

But if we continue to read in the same chapter we find this said about the disciples in Mark 10:41 (NIV):  “When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.”  The Zebedee boys had tried a pre-emptive strike to move ahead of the other 10 in the coming Kingdom.  We note that this was at the very end of their 3+ year training period with Jesus as future leaders.  And here we see that 2 of them wanted to jump ahead of the other 10.  Not a good way to win friends or influence people!  Well, they could claim it wasn’t really them.  Matthew’s account tells us that it was their mother who did the asking on their behalf (see Matthew 20:20 ff).

There were great emotions being expressed on Jesus’ leadership team.  He showed His indignation to The Twelve and they expressed their indignation with one other.  Yet with all of this the leadership team held together.  There was no fracture or lasting division.

Good teams can share strong feelings with each other and still work together well.  This comes from a foundation of trust and confidence that we are all working together towards the same ends.  Our team goals are not preempted by our personal goals.

So, is it safe to share how your really feel on your team?  Are strong emotions being expressed in appropriate ways without sin?  Can we be “gut-level honest” or are there areas that are just too sensitive to share how I really feel?

Leadership Team Responsibilities

Leadership team members have a unique relationship one to another.  They are often thrown together and told to function as a team because the leader chose them.  But they were chosen individually, most often without much say as to who else joined the team.  We may or may not be “naturally” drawn to our teammates.  Though we are united on our mission and vision, our personalities, backgrounds, or interests may present challenging obstacles to our effectiveness as a leadership team.

How do we relate to one another on a leadership team?  What are our responsibilities to each other?  No doubt you could list several, but let me suggest two that I see in the Word.

In John 13:1-17 Jesus models the attitude of a servant before his leadership team.  After finishing, in vv. 13-14 he says, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”  Jesus’ instructions to “wash one another’s feet” were given to explain how the members of His leadership team were to relate to each other.  They were to serve each other, choosing to meet the needs of fellow team members rather than promote or serve one’s own self interests.  As members of a leadership team we have a responsibility to serve one another, helping each other become a success in our individual responsibilities.

In Acts 20:28 we see another responsibility.  Paul had gathered the Ephesian elders together for some final words and he reminds them, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”  We often neglect to notice the first part of this passage.  The members of the Ephesian leadership team were to “keep watch over [them]selves.”

Yes, I am my brother’s keeper!  We have a responsibility to one another on our leadership team to make sure we continue to walk with God, fulfill our family responsibilities, and fulfill our leadership calling.  Spiritual leadership requires the utmost in Christlike character and we are to “keep watch” on that as well, as we fulfill our duties.

‘Serving each other’ and ‘keeping watch over each other’ are two of our responsibilities as leadership team members.  Let’s not be so focused on the outward responsibilities related to our leadership roles that we neglect to fulfill the responsibilities to those on our team.

Teams and Teamwork

Leadership Teams

 It is evident that no one individual has all that is necessary to bring the best leadership to any Kingdom enterprise.  Because no one leader can do everything well we must lead with a team.  My experience is that good teams are hard to come by, but when you experience one you will never forget it.  Remember, when talking about leadership and teams we mean a leader and his / her team, not team leadership.

Following are some additional thoughts related to teams and teamwork:

 New Testament Leadership Team Models

  1. Elder model
  2. Apostolic model  –  Jesus and his team    —   a training team
  3. Apostolic model  –  Paul and his team     —   a task/mission oriented team

Team:  a group of people who need each other in order to accomplish the task

Leadership Team Models in the Great Commission

             Apostolic                                     Elder

Go to the nations….               and            …teach them everything

Paul                                                                 Philemon  /  Archippus

mobile                                                             local

sodality                                                           modality

para-local church                                       local church

Team Synergy:  comes from group think concerning individual team member’s portfolio items and group work on specific tasks for a limited time

Team Leaders Must:           1.   Listen    2.  Learn   3.   Love    4.   Lead

 May God give you the special privilege of leading a team of other leaders!

Your First Leadership Team Meeting – Make it a Good One!

There is only one “first meeting” when forming your leadership team–you won’t be able to have a “do-over.”   Therefore, you will want to ensure that it is a success.  It will set the tone and pattern for future team meetings and if done well will create an environment for great teamwork.  Here are some practical ideas for launching your team well at that first meeting.  Some ideas are obviously applicable at any stage of team formation.  Some may fit your team and some not.  Take these ideas like you would eat fish  –  enjoy the meat and discard the bones!

1)  First meetings are important as they set tone, expectations, patterns, and first impressions that are lasting.  So, giving good thought to ensure that it’s a hit is essential.  Come prepared and plan the time well.

2)  As a general outline for all leadership team meetings (especially your first one) think of 3 parts:  business, development, and relationships!  There is not equal time spent for all three, but try to insure that every time together you address these three areas.  The business will always get the most attention for teams form to accomplish a task.  The business items often come with deadlines that demand our attention.  The development and relationship pieces (building community and esprit de corps) are easy to shortcut or minimize their importance.  But to ignore these will be detrimental to your effectiveness and impact as a team in the long-term.

3)  The development part of team meetings should be related to an aspect of leadership and can be varied – from interacting over a bible passage, article, book, or even an entire movie you watch together and then talk about leadership lessons demonstrated, etc.  If leading a team of busy leaders be wise in how much prep beforehand you can expect of the team as all are very busy (i.e. instead of reading and discussing an entire book together, choose one chapter from the book to read and discuss).

4)  Relationships –  for those of us who are more task oriented, this aspect of our meetings can seem like a “waste of time.”  Remember, just because you meet together does not mean that you are building trust relationships on the team!  I’ve done everything from using team building exercises, to having an annual golf tournament with a revolving trophy, to playing board games, party games, going out for a movie (not necessarily leadership oriented), fishing, visiting historical sites, visiting other ministries, etc.  It is only by building deep friendships that go beyond just being on a task-oriented team, building trust through shared experience, that we will be able to create a safe place where we can be real with one another.  The transparency and vulnerability that you model before the team as a team leader will help create this for others on the team.

5)  When you think about these three aspects of every meeting, you realize that you will need to have enough time scheduled for this, in order to have a relaxed pace.  The tendency is just to schedule the business agenda for the meeting and neglect time for development and relationships.  With multi-day meetings I would try to begin by sharing the Word and praying together for an extended time each day.  I would sometimes lead this time or ask others to lead, trying to make the time in the Word interactive.  It can help to begin the first part of our times together with each giving a personal update on life and family – seeking to model the idea that we are important as people, not just the task that we do.  We would often pray for each other during these times.

6)  You are wise to define the purpose of the team as well as expectations.  What will this team accomplish if we all contribute well?  Be sure you don’t have a “hidden agenda” with the answers already decided upon.  No doubt you’ll have some ideas in these areas, but if the team as a whole helps shape this, they will all own it together and will be highly motivated to carry it out.

7)  One thing to discuss is how you will make decisions on the team.  There are several standard decision-making models (a subject for another blog) and you’ll want to clarify how the team will make decisions as you go forward.  I personally believe in “a leader and their team” as opposed to “team leadership” with a participative decision-making style for most daily leadership decisions.  But realize that all decision-making models are appropriate for different times and situations.  This subject can be a development piece for your team members to help them as they lead their own teams in the future.

8)  As you think about setting future goals and plans, you want to insure that the goals are balanced between being realistic, given where you are now, but also faith influenced, having enough growth that they will require the hand of God and His blessing in order to see them accomplished.  Having both aspects and holding them in a dynamic tension will enable you to recruit others to ‘lay down their nets and come with you.’

You only have one ‘first team meeting’ – make it a good one!  And remember, don’t eat the bones!

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