03. Time for a check up

Every year I have to take my car to the garage to receive an inspection or check up that allows me to drive for another year. If the car doesn’t pass then I am not allowed to drive it until I get it fixed which can be very expensive. However it’s important to get it fixed before I continue to drive because it could be dangerous to me, to passengers, to the public or to the environment. I can choose to risk it but I will pay the consequences if I get caught or an accident happens. For the teams that we are involved in, it’s not a legal requirement to go through such an inspection but I think it would be a good idea. It could stop us being a danger to ourselves, one another, to our staff, to the public and to God. The following thoughts are not exhaustive but are good to bear in mind if you are involved in team. I have formed the points around an acronym – E.V.A.L.U.A.T.I.O.N.

Evaluation: I’m starting with the word evaluation because for many, this has become a negative word. Personally I view evaluation as a very positive word and one that helps us learn and grow. If we want to see growth in our staff, we need to establish an environment where evaluation becomes the norm. Whether an event goes well or badly, there is need of evaluation. Whether a leader is producing good fruit, no fruit or bad fruit, evaluation is important to discover how to see improvement from bad fruit to good fruit and from good fruit to better fruit. Jesus received an evaluation from his father at his baptism. “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” What a comfort for Jesus to know that he was on track. He hadn’t messed up – he was in the right place at the right time. Having sent the 12 out 2 by 2, they came back together for an evaluation and Jesus was able to encourage them with what had gone well. However a little while later he evaluates Peter’s comments to him regarding ‘not going to the cross’ and Jesus has to give very strong feedback. As we function in team, it’s vital that we have regular checkups and the following nine categories give a breadth of team life to evaluate.

Values: As a mission, we have 17 values that I am sure, those of you in YWAM, can remember well! Every organisation, team and church has values. Sometimes they’re clarified in writing,

other times they’re not. If you have a team, think for a moment what your team values are, and if they’re not articulated then see if you can come up with a short list. Say 5 or 6.

The challenge now is to use them as a basis to check up how you’re doing. With every new team leader, the values need to be talked through and discussed in order for us all to be on the same page and know how we are going to function together.

For instance, here are some of the values I work with and hold very closely on my teams:

Humility – create an environment for open sharing of our lives. Hearing God – in worship, for one another and the work/mission. Hospitality – where people can enjoy fellowship, food and fun. Hopes & dreams – where we’re developing and potentially going. Holiness – where we live a life of integrity.

How to’s – practical implementation of ministry/vision.

Anyone who’s been on my teams will be aware of these values in action. They might not have the 6 values in words but would see from our activities and how we spend our time that these are the values in the foundation stones.

Agenda: The joy of meeting with other leaders is the opportunity to be co-workers with God in seeing his kingdom come. That involves vision development and implementation. Leaders

lead with vision and create employment in the kingdom. Unfortunately we can easily get caught up in day to day decision making, problem solving and putting our fires. Not that these are wrong but much could be delegated to “operations groups” and all too often the discussions go on too long resulting in frustrated team members who then don’t look forward to being together.

Agendas for leadership teams are to centre on development and future. So when we pray we are hearing God’s heart for the ministry and the people in it. When we pray for one another we are encouraging them into their full potential in leadership. When we take time to meet with leaders of ministries we are strategising together to see how they can grow and produce more fruit, and fruit that will remain. When we talk about staff meetings and events, we are looking at futures and where we want the mission to be and what it will look like.

The IBM of agenda is: Intercession for the work; Business development; Ministry to one another. With these three focuses we will stay on the right tracks.

Leader: Every team needs a leader. A revolving chairperson is OK as an interim measure but in my opinion is not a long-term option. Know the season you are in, then choose the leader

with the gift required for that season. A leader is one who takes initiative and steers the team into the future. He/she embraces the breadth of vision and keeps the team on track. Of course the leader doesn’t have all the gifts requires – that’s why there are other members in the team but their initiative is vital to move the team forward. Call them a leader, greater of equals, chairperson or director but this person is there to embrace the whole vision, motivate all the members toward that vision and create a momentum where progress is being made.

Understand what’s going on: For every team member to understand what’s happening and be on the same page means there needs to be ‘good process’ and ‘good communication.’

When a vision is clarified, a problem articulated or a decision is made, we need to ask the questions – How do we process this? What are the steps needed? Who needs to know and what needs to be communicated? So many problems occur with miscommunication, lack of communication and poor or no process. TIME is needed in these vital aspects. In the minutes of your meetings be sure to write not only the decision or problem discussed but also who is doing what, when and in what order. Who is communicating what, when and how?

N.B. No leadership team member wants to hear new information in a staff meeting. They want to have talked it through in the leadership team meeting first. So leaders remember to check that you have communicated to your team before passing information on to others. It’s also not a good idea to communicate difficult issues or confront someone via email. Sometimes its impossible not to, but when you can, process with face to face meetings.

Accountability: What a privilege it is to have others on a team to keep us on track and moving towards our godly goals. As ministry leaders we need others to ask us the hard

questions, the evaluative questions that will help us to be real and face the issues that cause us to grow. How many meetings have you been in where everybody is trying to avoid talking about the elephant in the room? We must get real and accountable and create an atmosphere where we are at ease with questions about our ministry and personal life. Our personal life affects our ministry and if we aren’t aware of our negative leadership style, or are living with sin in our lives in a certain area, we aren’t going to see the anointing we desire.

Time for relationships: It’s good to remember we are human and not machines. We want to do more than crunch numbers, punch out analysis and make decisions based on the best

process. Again there’s a need for a relational environment where I value others, listen, encourage, share my heart and enjoy playing and eating together. When our relationships are growing and there is harmony and trust, difficult issues are processed so much more easily. Good relationships and a fun environment also means that we will look forward to times together rather than seeing them as simply ‘time out of our busy schedule.’

Intercession: The saying goes, “those that pray together stay together” and I think it’s pretty accurate. By praying together I’m not talking about an opening and closing prayer for our

meetings. I ‘m talking about giving time to seek God over our leadership and ministries. That means hearing what he is saying, receiving fresh vision and encouragement, being convicted of our wrong attitudes, behaviours and communication and repenting before him and taking time to worship and grasping who it is that we are serving once more. Let’s not get so busy with our agenda that there’s not enough time for prayer.

Operations: In any leadership meeting there is a need for operations. I am talking about decision making and dealing with needed details. For some, the brainstorming of visionary ideas is what brings life and they would like to do that 24/7. However, if those dreams are to see the light of day, then we have to get to the nitty gritty of details and decisions. Of course, some decisions should be delegated to committees or operational teams that serve the leadership team in this way. Remember how the 12 apostles delegated the conflict of the Hellenistic Jews to deacons who did a great job in solving the problem. The 12 were then freed up to seek God and teach the people the ways of God. Where there are too many strings being held by the leadership team watch out. If you can delegate it – go ahead and do it. Remember though, you can’t delegate issues of vision, alignment and spiritual direction. This is your role as leader.

Nurture: We’ve talked about time for relationship already, so what’s this about nurture? It’s possible to spend time to share and pray for each other, to eat and have a good laugh together but after the meeting go on with our lives until the next time we meet. Nurture goes a bit further and deeper. Nurturing takes more of a caring attitude, where our communication carries with it an ongoing commitment. Perhaps it may mean keeping regular contact, being there to help the other in need, mentoring one another, or just being a friend. This is where you experience a movement from a leadership team meeting to a leadership team. The team then becomes people that are involved in my life not simply those that I share responsibilities with.

Team is a high calling and not for the fainthearted. How about organising a meeting simply to evaluate. Take each aspect and ask ‘how are we doing as a team here?’

Aspect of evaluation

How are we doing? Scale 1-10

What are our team priorities? 1-10

What can we do to improve?

Evaluation

Values

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Agenda

Leader

Understand

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Accountability

Time

Intercession

Operations

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Nurture

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