Trust is eroding in various sectors of our society, including education, government, and even religious institutions. As followers of Jesus, we have a responsibility not only to possess good character and integrity but also to dedicate our time and efforts toward instilling and promoting these values both individually and corporately as image bearers of God.
During these challenging times, it’s essential for leaders in ministry to recognize that they have the opportunity to cultivate healthy and reliable cultures. Whether you’re a pastor, lay leader, or participating in a staff meeting or casual conversation, every interaction presents a chance to make a positive impact and invest your time and influence for the benefit of others and the glory of God.
Shut Down Gossip
Talk to one another, not about one another. Intentionally creating spaces for psychological safety, vulnerability, and mutual respect is a crucial first step in nurturing belonging and connectedness among members. As a leader, gossip has to stop with you, and then enforced when others overstep the boundary.
Gossiping and speaking negatively toward those on staff or in your church can cause irreparable harm to individuals and undermine the church’s mission. To avoid such situations, it’s important to handle disagreements and frustrations in a constructive manner. Having open communication and speaking directly and respectfully to coworkers about any issues is the best way to address any work-related concerns.
Recently I found myself in a situation where one of my volunteer team members came to me complaining and frustrated about how another team member waited until the last minute to fulfill her part of an event, which then led to my team member having to rush and problem solve in the last moments leading up to the event. When she came to me, I listened and then asked her if she had spoken with the other team member first. She had not. In order for both of them to grow and understand the need for everyone to work together as a team, they each needed to come together and hear one another both about where to improve and to work together moving forward.
Celebrate One Another
The things you choose to celebrate within your organization will likely be repeated. In a parenting and adoption class, an analogy was given using fertilizer to explain that the traits and characteristics you emphasize as a parent will flourish and grow in your child. The same is true of our work and ministry relationships. For instance, if an employee, who is usually late to staff meetings, arrives on time, acknowledging their effort and expressing appreciation with a simple statement like “I see your effort in getting here on time today. I appreciate you” can help to celebrate that employee or team member. Finding ways to celebrate your team, staff, or group helps push people toward the core values and character you hope to develop in them and your church as a whole.
One other key benefit of celebrating one another is to make central the core purpose and mission that you are on together. Celebrating when someone shares the gospel, completing a large community event, or highlighting the person who stepped up and filled a needed gap are all ways to promote missional living, faithfulness, and sacrificial teamwork. We don’t just execute tasks, we point to others to see how their investments impact the team, church family, and Kingdom of God.
Being mindful of how we handle our responsibilities and interact with others is vital for the health and growth of our churches and teams. It is unfair to expect perfection from ourselves and those around us all of the time, which is why we need to expect and strive towards growth in the weak areas of our teams.
After any major decision, event, or shift in practice, I always want to make sure to have an opportunity to discuss tweaks and areas of improvement to make the whole better. First starting as a leader and verbalizing where I could have done better or where I dropped the ball then helps to give freedom for others to own their areas of growth as well as collaborate together in their different strengths to move forward with a unified vision.
By intentionally having conversations around clarity and collaboration, you are able to walk forward together with understanding and one voice while valuing the diversity of perspectives.
Be A Person Who Is Faithful & Consistent
One of the hard parts about creating a culture of trust is that in our current culture cynicism and assumption happen more than faithfulness. We will talk up a big plan in a meeting and then drop the ball when it comes to our follow-through. Whether it is due to being over-committed or a deeper need for character development and growth, we can often find ourselves being the ones who fuel the distrust within our teams without even knowing it. It is easy to rationalize or shrug off our own missteps than to own where we have failed and ask for forgiveness.
Building a trustworthy culture starts with you. Every day you choose to be a person of character, faithfulness, and consistency despite what temptation there may be to shrink back in work ethic, pass the blame, or assume the worst of a leader or team member.
I love how Paul describes the Philippian church as being of one mind, one Spirit, and one purpose (Phil 2:2). As we strive and work toward healthy teams and culture, we not only move the mission forward together, but we show a watching world what it means to be changed by the gospel and sent to proclaim it.
For more reading on creating cultures of health and trust, I highly recommend Henry Cloud’s new book “Trust: Knowing When to Give it, When to Withhold it, How to Earn it, and How to Fix it When it Gets Broken” where he teaches that there are 5 essentials to trust.
This article originally appeared at Church Answers