ministry health

Are You Willing To Get Vulnerable With Your Team?

"I think I need to buy you all milkshakes." The students nodded their heads, not because they were craving sweet treats, but what they had witnessed was eye-opening and required a debrief. Our interns had been invited to partake in our weekly team meeting, and it was intense. They saw my team debate, share feelings, get vulnerable, and do everything you want a healthy staff to do. But, for the interns, this was a new experience. They had been taught that arguing and getting emotional is not healthy.

While we dissected the meeting over milkshakes, I explained to them that it's okay to disagree with others, as long as people get a chance to speak and everyone is listening. I pointed out examples of how this played out and told them that at the end of the day, we all have trust, respect, and love for one another. For any ministry team to fulfill the will that God has placed on them, they need to be willing to get vulnerable with one another.

To get vulnerable might sound like a huge ask; however, if you want to be able to have honest conversations, confront bad behavior, and grow a stronger team, you need to learn how. And while I'm not perfect, what I've learned is that it starts with:

Personal and Team Prayer

A team that prays together gets vulnerable quickly because God will strip away all the layers that prevent us from opening up. Not only do you need to invest in your prayer life, but you should also make sure that your team is taking time to pray. Sometimes that prayer needs to go beyond the beginning and end of meetings and happen in place of an agenda.

One idea that you can try is setting up a flip chart or whiteboard and having your team offer up prayers (both personal and professional) on the board. Take time praying over those intentions and lifting others up. This simple exercise will remind the team that there are many things that weigh on our hearts, and knowing that others are lifting them up in prayer can bring comfort that we are not holding onto those burdens alone.

Sharing Life with Each Other

How well do you know the people you work with? Do they have families, hobbies, and interests that go beyond your ministry? When we show authentic interest in what's happening outside of the ministry, it shows that we care about them as an individual. And when someone feels valued, they are more likely to open up and be honest about what they are experiencing.

A simple way to share life is by grabbing lunch with your coworkers. Instead of eating in front of the computer or phone, sit with your staff and talk about the day. If you work with volunteers, invite them out for a cup of coffee or show up at their kid's sporting event and chat with them on the sideline. The more you know about someone, the better you can manage and motivate them.

Working on Your Listening

Another way to show that you care is by listening to what's on the hearts and minds of your team. Too often, we listen with the intention of fixing someone's problem; however, many people just want to be heard or understood. When someone listens to you with empathy and understanding, it creates a safe space. People will open up about their ideas, their thoughts, and even offer you the feedback you need to grow. A great resource that goes deeper into this subject is Simon Sinek's talk on the Art of Listening (Check it out HERE).

Inviting Others into Your Formation

You can't figure out vulnerability on your own. One of the biggest obstacles to our vulnerability is pride. It's critical that every leader surrounds themselves with individuals who provide insight, wisdom, and accountability. Those people can be peers in ministry or professionals (e.g., therapists, spiritual directors).

To invite others means allowing yourself to be vulnerable, so you have to let the person know that you might push back and get uncomfortable. You have to let that person know that they might need to push back. If you can't do that with friends or peers, that's where professionals are super helpful.

Regardless, when you allow others to walk with you, then it can show you how to walk with others. You'll be able to empathize with their discomfort and walk with them through the challenge of letting go.

Don't be afraid to get vulnerable with those you serve and work with. Yes, it opens you up to criticism and addressing some things that you wish would go away; however, the alternative is more damaging. At Marathon Youth Ministry, we've been walking with ministry leaders for years through coaching and cohorts. If you are looking to take those first steps to leading with vulnerability and authenticity, set up a FREE coaching consultation with us today or visit our MYM U site.

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