Many of us work with people very different from us. Our supervisor might have very different expectations of how ministry should look. They may also have different life experiences they bring to table, giving them a different approach to how they relate with people. This affects how you do ministry together and can very quickly become extremely frustrating, especially if you’re not communicating well.
Communication is so important. Keeping an open heart and mind, not allowing negativity to fuel your relationship with the other person is key to keeping harmony within the relationship. Unfortunately, more often than not, our own personal fears and insecurities play themselves into how we deal with our work relationships. Sadly, this is even true in the church.
Does your Senior Pastor have a strong personality, and you’re afraid of conflict? That’s a quick recipe for disaster. Does your supervisor have unrealistic expectations of what your calendar should look like? Chances are, if that’s the case, you won’t stick around very long.
Workplace harmony within the church is rare, but it is key to a flourishing ministry setting. Without good, honest, and sometimes hard communication among staff members, the leadership will suffer, and things will eventually break down. Either someone’s feelings are going to get hurt, or it may get so bad that the only option is to leave.
How can we keep our ministry settings healthy so that we don’t get to that point?
- I can’t stress this one enough. When in doubt, communicate and then communicate some more.
- Be humble. Be the first one to ask for forgiveness and create a place where you can talk openly about ways that you feel hurt or misunderstood by the other person.
- Become a great listener. A lot of our problems arise because we just don’t listen well. We’re quick to try and fix the other person, insert our spiritual wisdom or interject our point. Instead, we need to learn how to really hear people well.
- Create an atmosphere where it’s OK and acceptable to be human; with struggles, brokenness and pain. I think sometimes in church leadership culture we’re not sure what to do with brokenness. Wrongfully, we make church leaders into people that are somehow without sin and struggles. We must remember that we’re not superhuman. We’re just people and sometimes, we struggle. We must be willing to walk alongside each other on a church staff when a crisis hits.
- Foster an atmosphere of grace. Create a place where it's ok to mess up. That is one of the things I love about working at Ministry Architects. I am constantly amazed by the amount of grace I receive from the people I work with. Although I don’t always get it right, my friends at Ministry Architects are always cheering me on with a tremendous amount of support. Without grace, we cannot survive long in the ministry settings we find ourselves in.