We all want our teams to grow. For some of us, we want those teams to grow in number and for some, we desire the few to be strengthened and grow in their development. For most of us, we long for both. There are a lot of ways that we can help our teams improve. We can build systems, we can expose them to thousands of tutorials, or even take them to conferences all over the world. But in these few paragraphs I’d suggest that there’s nothing more important to seeing everyone on your team grow than encouragement.
Breaking down the word “encourage”, the prefix “en” means to put in or into and the word “courage” means confident, brave, strong. To “encourage” then literally means to put courage into someone. Understanding this, then I guess the opposite would also be true when someone is being “discouraged”. So here are a few questions to look at how we’re leading and work hard to make sure we are putting courage into our people to be all that God has designed them to be.
Do your systems encourage?
Every step of the way should be built with surrounding motivation and inspiration. Everyone has a next step, and our systems should help them discover that and want to move on. In worship ministry, I have a process for becoming a part of serving in our ministry. Each step should be doused with encouragement. For example, in my world, if someone wants to serve in our worship ministry they are encouraged to fill out a short application telling us more about them. At the end of the application, they are encouraged to submit an audition of their talent. At the end of that they are encouraged to come check out our rehearsal and are given more information OR they are gently encouraged that another ministry is more suited for them. I know that’s a really tricky spot to navigate, but if my goal is to put courage into someone to be all that God has designed them to be, then my direction at this point is crucial in helping them navigate to find the right place in the body. If I want my system to help them discover their next step then failure or even delay in helping them find their sweet spot will only prolong their finding the beautiful place God has in store for them and the strength the body of Christ will gain from all the parts doing what they were designed to do. Once they are a part of one of our teams, then they will continue to receive guidance and encouragement on a weekly basis, which leads us to my next question.
Does your personal weekly treadmill encourage?
What I mean by weekly treadmill is that week to week road that you run. The to do’s, the schedule, the grind. Do you have built into your weekly grind things that naturally allow you to be an encouragement to the people you lead. I encourage you to build into your every day some source of margin in your schedule that allows you to encourage others. You’re probably familiar with the Five Love Languages, where everyone has a certain way to give and receive love. Encouragement works much the same way, and the people you lead will have ways that they personally better receive the encouragement you give. It all comes down to using the source of encouragement that is best going to work for that person. Unfortunately, the people you lead don’t come with instruction labels or manuals to let you know, but as you navigate with encouragement you’ll begin to see different strokes resonate with different folks. Some of your people will feel most enriched with some kind words in private, while others will beam when you find a way to acknowledge them in front of the whole group. Some will feel cared for with loving words from an e-mail or text while others will cherish a handwritten card and refer back to it often. So build a healthy treadmill that allows you to do this naturally, and thoughtfully from your heart. This is not a checklist activity on your treadmill. Just checking the box on this one won’t work, and your people can tell the difference between a card sent out of duty rather than love. God has trusted you with all of these people, so find a path that’s natural and authentic.
Do your teams encourage?
You need to make sure that you’re not the only person on your team that gets this. If you are the only person doing all of the encouraging, then you’re only scratching the surface of the amount of courage you are putting into someone. While it is taught and caught from the top, build within your leaders the importance of encouraging each other. This is so important because it allows people to receive so many more touches of encouragement along the way and in the trenches. It’s another way of understanding that team is so much greater than just me. I wrote another whole blog post on this topic (https://www.churchandgospel.com/2017/02/01/team-me/) but the fact remains, that to do this right, you need others that get this as well. When we are all building each other up, encouraging one another, and cheering each other on in life and the ways we serve, the body of Christ begins to move in some incredible ways because it’s moving the way it was intended.
So take an honest look and find ways that you can be more of an encourager today. Think back to the people that encouraged you along the way, and how that helped you develop and grow. It’s important… it’s necessary… and putting courage into our people to be all that God has designed them to be allows you to be the leader God has intended you to be.