In my previous post I wrote about finding my voice for my congregation, emphasis on for; as a site leader’s voice for the congregation is one that I believe primarily aims to serve and be pastorally supportive for the people in various ways (among other responsibilities).
Of course, in the context of your core team, you’d still want to serve and pastorally support them also. Yet, the environment is different here as hopefully the core team you’ve chosen have been invited by you to help be that overarching voice for the congregation. There’s a level of competency, gifting, capacity, and support among yourselves as you equally share the load of being an influential voice for the site. You’re doing heavy lifting together, carrying the weight as one team shoulder to shoulder.
So here we’ll see how your voice is found with your core team, emphasis on with, as a congregation leader’s voice is only as influential as the voices surrounding it.
As I’ve reflected, I found three areas that come to mind where I’ve learnt my voice has developed with my core team. Let’s unpack them below.
Be a voice of vision
I’ve felt that my voice within my core team must be founded upon vision first and foremost.
Does that mean I’ve started every meeting by carving out 5 minutes of ‘vision casting’? No. I can vividly picture several in my team outright telling me to shut up, or at least think it. Not because they’re not on board with the church’s vision or our congregation’s unique expression of it. But because they know already! That’s why they’re with you in your team. I’d just be preaching to the choir and condescendingly treating them like kids. Of course, periodically highlighting what we’re all about and why we do what we do is healthy, so don’t misunderstand me. Dropping in an explicit refresher on your vision from time to time is good to do, as the everyday practical work needed in leadership can so easily drown out the God-given visions for why you all do what you do with such diligence and commitment.
More often, I found it was how I projected my voice, what I chose to highlight, or speak into, that really helped it develop into a voice of vision. Whatever aspects we were discussing that really touched upon our vision I spoke with excitement about. If we were planning something that connected so well with what we’re about, I would latch onto it and speak about it with enthusiasm.
I try to be aware of my voice so that I don’t speak with gloom and doom language. I don’t want to be the guy who immediately sees the problems (get other people in your team be those people – they are needed!). As the leader, I’m wanting to express faith and courage in the things we believe the Lord is leading us in by speaking with a confidence in Him. Then as we do that my hope is that vision will grow in the hearts of our teams and passion for it will spread.
Not false hope. Not triumphalism. Not ‘coffee cup positivity’. But a biblical confidence and enthusiasm in the vision God has given our team. Think of Joshua and Caleb in Numbers 14, brilliant examples of leaders within a team who used their voices to speak with faith and vision.
Questions to ponder…
- Is your voice the first and loudest to promote the vision God has given your church and congregation?
- How could you better use your voice to keep the vision at the forefront of your teams activity?
Be a voice of delegation
As well voicing vision, I’d submit to you that speaking delegation to your core team will help them receive your voice better.
What I mean is that as I’ve asked people in my core team to take responsibility for something I believe my voice has been better received. Delegating responsibility includes, when it’s genuinely delegated that is, handing over a sense of ownership. Sensibly, not all delegation involves relinquishing your oversight and input. We must continue to oversee. But there’s always a little sliver of that which is passed over to the person you’re delegating to. When we do this we’re investing a degree of trust into those people we delegate to. To use modern language, we’re empowering them. We’re subtly expressing, “I believe you can do this”. Delegation protects us from becoming controlling and micro-managing. When I’ve encouraged someone to run with something I’m saying I value them and appreciate their contribution. When a person is released to make something happen, especially with their unique style, a sense of belonging and ownership can rise within that core team member’s heart. A sense of ownership for the congregation, but also a sense of belonging to you as its leader.
To be clear, this isn’t with the intention of winning your team to a cultish loyalty. Our aim isn’t to create robots who do what we command. We don’t want a team that hang onto every word we say. That role is reserved for Christ. Yet, it is with a desire to use our voice influentially and be heard, as friends listen to each other and take on board what each other say, because they know they are safe within the boundaries of their friendship.
As we use our voices to delegate it may be that our team will better participate.
Questions to ponder…
- Self-reflect honestly and consider whether you hold too tightly to things. Is there scope for you to let go and let others in your team take the reins?
- Alternatively, might you be someone who holds things too loosely? Could you be delegating too much and overworking your team, even coming across as someone adverse to taking responsibility?
Value the voices of your core team
Finally, voicing vision and speaking delegation will come to nothing in the long run if we don’t fundamentally value the voices within our core team.
My wife can’t stand it when she’s talking to me and I’m just not really listening. Especially if we’re in the kitchen and I see there’s the odd thing to clean up. I’m a sucker for making the odd grunt and nodding my head in response to her, but I’m really focused on the item I’m tidying away. She regularly reminds me to do ‘active listening’. Which is just a fancy way of saying to look at the person you’re talking to. She’s right.
Little actions we can take to demonstrate that we are listening to the voices in the room will go a long way. How we respond to a team member who has contributed something will mean the world. So, I’ll end with being super practical and conclude with some action points, literally.
- Turn mobiles off – I can’t stand it when someone is speaking and others are looking at their phones. It’s just disrespectful.
- Keep eye contact – just not in a creepy way.
- Less interruption – let your team members finish as often as you can.
- Positivity – even if you disagree with what is said, more often than not why not respond with gratitude first.
- Thrown them a bone – why not go with a suggestion made by someone that you’re not sure will work or go well just to give someone in the team a win.
- Invite voices – be proactive and encouragingly ask individuals what their thoughts are, how they feel, and even what they would do.
- Follow up – I’ve made it a bit of a habit to send a brief message to my team just to say thanks for what they shared and tell them I appreciated what they said.
The final post in this series will conclude by reflecting on how I learnt to find my voice among my elders.