Five Characteristics of a Healthy Team

Regardless of the context, good leadership is not a lone wolf activity. It takes a team or community of people to lead well. On some level, all people who lead are aware of this, yet there are a variety of factors that inhibit the development of leadership teams. Insecurity is high on that list, as are issues of control and a need for approval from others. Developing quality leadership teams takes intentionality and discipline. Here are five necessary characteristics that I have observed in healthy teams (and missing from unhealthy teams) with whom I have worked. Don’t let familiarity detract from their value to transform your leadership culture, for they are also vetted out by experience. Competence: Of course it goes without saying that we want people who are effective at their facet of the task. What does a particular role require a person to be good at? What determines effectiveness? Character: Leading together is a relational activity. It requires trustworthiness and adherence to standards. When we are exposed and vulnerable it is invaluable to know that we won’t be taken advantage of. What personal goals does the person leading have? How much oversight is required to ensure things get done? How honest does the person evaluate their self? Commitment: It is always hoped that a person has a commitment to more than a paycheck or accolades. But, commitment goes beyond loyalty to a task or vision. What is the commitment to balance? How open to growth and transition is the person? Setting up to lead for the long term. Chemistry: This may be the hardest to ascertain initially. Will you and others enjoy working with this person? Is...

Adultery – Identity and the Seventh Commandment

You shall not commit adultery. – Exodus 20:14 Sex is firmly tied to our identity. How we approach sex, who we do it with, and our motivation for having sex are all products of our sense of self. In our culture, we have taken this one step further, and make sex not just a product of identity, but an identity in itself. But, that is a topic for a different post on a different day. Because his nature is faithfulness, God hates adultery. It is not a fruit of an identity centered in Christ. It is a sign of a problem. Sex is connection on a soul level and is powerful. As such, sex can be used as a source of approval, control, or security and give a perceived sense of value to the self by answering the questions of identity: What do I do? What do I have? What do people think of me? When sex is part of the basis for identity, it is used to manufacture a sense of value. Sex is self-centered. I have lots of sex. –> Which makes me better than those who don’t. I satisfy my spouse. –> Which means my performance is good. I am desirable. –> Which provides a source of positive affirmation. I give (or withhold) sex to get something I want. –> Which is a source of power. Sex makes me feel secure. –> Which is a false source of wholeness. Which brings us to adultery. Issues of identity always lead to misusing the gifts of God. Said another way, when we seek wholeness apart from God, we use the...

No Stealing – Identity and the Eighth Commandment

You shall not steal. – Exodus 20:15 All of the commandments relate back to the first. Having no other gods besides the Lord is an expectation for our identity. (for fuller discussion, see Identity and the First Commandment) Idolatry is seeking wholeness in something other than God; building an identity on the foundation of a standard of the world. Wealth is an idol. Possessing and consuming things is an idolatry. It is something we look to in order to define our self. If shame is a fear of having no value, then getting something new can quickly cover that shame up. Temporarily. Until something newer or better comes along. Driven by comparison, we can know how we measure up (or don’t) by what we have or by how much we have. That’s the definition of ‘the good life’. And when we don’t have what we want, or what others have, or we’re longing for that ‘one more’ item to make the pain and emptiness go away, we steal. Taking what is not ours to even out the comparison. “I deserve this more” or “they have enough” can be ways to judge the fairness of stealing. Our false self becomes our value lens. Taking what is not ours because we cannot get what is needed to cover or deaden our shame any other way. Stealing is how an idol enslaves. In Luke 12, just before telling the parable of a foolish man who founded his life and security on gathering MORE, Jesus said “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” We may seek life in wealth, we may attempt to define our value and sense of...

Healthy Things Grow

In a recent conversation with a leader, I used the expression “healthy things grow”to talk about hoped for results in an area of coaching. It is a good principle. Healthy kids grow. Healthy plants grow. If there is health, there is growth. Yet, we encounter some problems with this principle. All things do not grow the same way. All churches do not grow in the same way. All ministries do not grow in the same way. All relationships do not grow the same way. All disciples do not grow the same way. In church leadership, the tendency is to equate growth with numeric growth. More people means there is health. That is a lie, and a trap. A church can grow by telling people what they want to hear. There are plenty of those out there. Pointing to numeric growth as a sign of healthy things, the tendency is to become driven to experience growth. But healthy things are not the only things that grow. Cancer grows. Weeds grow. Beer bellies grow. It is also a way to dismiss other avenues of growth. Are people developing perseverance? Experiencing Christ more fully in their daily lives? Demonstrating compassion to others? Becoming light where they are? Are they transforming workplaces, sports teams, schools, and communities by their presence. The Gospel is not an individual church growth strategy, it is a Kingdom growth strategy. And the Kingdom can easily be growing around a healthy church whose numbers are constant. What possible ways are there to grow in your ministry context? Focusing our efforts on the numeric growth is a way to build our own sense...

Two Ways to Justify Our Self

I love when I get the opportunity to talk with and teach students. They are at the stage of life where they are simultaneously beginning to define their self while trying to understand how their faith relates to the life they want to live. Yesterday we were talking about what sin is and how we overcome it. Broad topic. One common response in our discussion was that we overcome sin by following the rules. And while for the students, they are just beginning to explore if this is a good spiritual strategy, for most of us, it is our default way of functioning in our spiritual life. When push comes to shove, just try harder to stop sinning! This is simply our attempt to justify our self before God. “Here I am God, I’ve made my self good enough.” It is the Lie, another way – although a religious way – to pursue wholeness apart from God. Because we are broken image bearers, our focus is self-centered. As disciples, that concept extends to the functional ways we attempt to be right before God. Self-justification is the idea that being right before God is up to us. Our effort. Our results. It is the attitude that says grace was OK for salvation, but grace is not part of sanctification. And there are two patterns that we follow to do this. They are extensions of the old or false self  that is comfortable and familiar and at war with our new self in Christ. One pattern of self-justification is by following the rules. Then we can look to God and say I...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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