Careless Whispers: 3 Ways to Avoid Gossip

The words: Careless whispers: 3 ways to avoid gossip

Last year, in a blog titled the 5 stages of a worship team, I talked a little about my experience leading a team. The group started well with a promising trajectory, but closed out prematurely in the storming stage. Unfortunately, slander was a major factor in the demise of the group.

We all have endured the painful sting of gossip and we too have maligned others. As I have reflected on the effects gossip has on individuals and groups, whether we are the perpetrators or recipients, the outcome is the same; slander destroys both the hearer and the slanderer alike.

The bible is clear about what kind of talk should be avoided “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” {Ephesians 4:29}

But what should we do the next time someone is disgruntled about a team member and wants to air their frustration to you?

1) Validate

Years back, I watched a TED Talk by one of Africa’s most celebrated writers- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her talk was on the danger of a single story. While I may not agree with everything she stands for, I loved one of the quotes from this particular talk:

“…Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.”

The bible also has great wisdom concerning a one sided story “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” {Proverbs 18:17}

You have probably been in a situation where someone told you something from their point of view, but upon listening to the other party, found out that what the first person had to say was not entirely true. This is the danger of a single story. However, we ought to validate accusations brought against other individuals. One way to do this is to ask. Ask the aggrieved individual questions that would shed light on the matter. If you can, request to talk to the other party so as to have the full story.

2) Mediate

The work of the cross is the greatest display of reconciliation. Following Christ’s example, we ought to look for ways to bring unity into areas of division in our teams and relationships. Matthew 18:15 gives us solid advice on how to quell slander. “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”  There are circumstances in which someone may seek out your help in resolving a matter with another team member. You as the mediator have the sole responsibility of keeping the issue confidential so as to avoid gossip. Just between the aggrieved parties, find a way to bring peace into that situation.

3) Deviate

Years back, I attended a school that was facing major financial and administrative issues. Balls were dropped, causing many students to be unhappy. One such unhappy student approached me with these issues, and within no time, I who loved this school, was embittered and had joined a group of complainers. We would stand around in circles at break discussing how terrible the school was, instead of escalating the issue to relevant people who could address the problems.

In that moment, Proverbs 18:8 described me: “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.” Not only did I choose to let gossip embitter me, I allowed it to steal the joy and love I once felt being a part of this community.

In retrospect, I should have referred this student to someone in a position of authority who could handle the valid issues brought up.

 

I believe that every worship team should have systems to allow the members to air their grievances respectfully. I also encourage every leader to foster openness in their team. Let us reject the temptation to accuse and slander others, especially when we have been hurt. We are all on a journey of sanctification, one that includes our speech. Therefore let us validate, mediate and deviate. I would like to hear from you. Has slander ever affected your team, and how did you navigate through it?

 

 

 

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3 Pitfalls to avoid in Stewardship

An image with the words "Stewardship and three pitfalls to avoid"

As I have been thinking about what my first post of the year will be, stewardship has been at the fore. To put this in context, a couple of weeks back, I was having a conversation with a close friend. I had asked him a question in the lines of: Does God want all believers to be rich? The answer he gave me was so simple, yet so mind blowing. He told me, “I believe God wants us to be good stewards.”

He went on to explain how God has given all believers resources in different measure and that how we choose to steward these things gives us more room and opportunity to receive more. For example, if God blesses me with a certain amount and I choose to be diligent in saving and investing and not spending it all, little by little this resource grows and multiplies. And if God can trust me with that little amount, surely he can trust me with much more.

However, today’s post is not about stewarding finances, but about the gifts and talents God has placed in every worship leader, and how we can avoid certain pitfalls as we minister so as to steward the gifts, no matter how big or small, in purity and integrity.

The dictionary meaning of the word steward varies, depending on the context, but at the core, is the idea that as a steward, what you are stewarding does not belong to you. This same thought can be seen in the biblical sense of stewardship. We find many references where God calls us, puts treasure in our hands and “demands” that we give a proper account of its use {Matthew 24:45-51, 25:14-30, Genesis 2:15}

In light of this, here are a few issues that we may face as we try to steward God’s gifts in our lives.

1) Fear and comparison

When it comes to music, I get asked a lot, how one can overcome the overwhelming fear that what you have is just not as good as the musician next to you. Creatives tend to compare their talents to others’ as opposed to celebrating what is inside them. And to be honest, that feeling can cripple you and hold you back from being all that God has called you to be or it can drive you to prove a point. However way it goes, both of these reactions are problematic. Granted, there will be better skilled musicians than you, but just like the parable of the talents, the quality of the gift is unique to you and the resolve of the giver to use you is sure {Matthew 25:14-15}.

2) Competition and Superstardom

The heartbeat of the many blogs I write is unity in the body of Christ {1st Corinthians 12:12-31}. I believe strongly that God uses us powerfully when we are committed to submit under godly men and women who can teach us, correct us and call out the wonderful gifts He has placed in us. Although God calls us to run our own unique and individual race, we are also called to a bigger race, one of taking the gospel to the very ends of the world with the help of others.

Using an analogy, what God has called us to do is like a picture puzzle; every time we align ourselves to the image in the puzzle, the body of Christ presents a beautiful picture of love and commitment to the One who has called us.

As you continue sharpening your skill, opportunities will open up, fame may come and the money too. It is at this point that you remind yourself to lay low in the presence of Jesus and to resist the temptation for stardom and competition.

3) Overconfidence and Under-preparation

It is natural to become confident about something you have been doing repeatedly. You know your strengths and limitations and are able to manipulate these so as to minister effectively- and that’s ok.

However, pride can creep in subtly tempting you to self-reliance. Self-reliance says that you can do it without God, that you are gifted enough to carry a service by yourself, that you don’t need anyone or that your vocalists are just “backing you up” as opposed to ministering beside you. Where once you sought God about His heart for those you minister to, you may find yourself rushing through, just to complete the task at hand. Where you used to sharpen your skill, laxity may have crept in making you an ineffective steward.

The greatest example of confidence has been modeled to us by Jesus. “…I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” {John 5:19}. If Jesus was fully reliant and obedient to the Father, putting his confidence in God alone, how much more should you and I commit to a life like that?

As we reflect on the gifts God has given us and these three major pitfalls, how do you fare? When all our actions and motivations are based on a view of eternity, knowing that what we do here on earth is critical in the next life, we ultimately become better stewards. Commit today to serve God with His agenda in mind, with His vision in your heart and His kingdom as your priority.

Strangers in worship: Three conversations to engage in when having a visiting team minister

This week I was pleased to have a guest blogger- the associate pastor of Nairobi Chapel South, Barak Mondia, tell us from his perspective, three things a church should do when inviting a new worship team to minister

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Six months ago, we were commissioned to plant a church in the South C area of Nairobi. I quickly learned that church planting offers its own unique set of challenges. For starters, we don’t have the luxury of having a couple of worship teams at hand. This, in turn, translates to having the same people leading worship every Sunday. This is a recipe for burnout. So we made a decision to invite a worship team or a worship leader from a different church every month or so just to give our team a break to enjoy worship.

Recently, we had a visiting worship team lead us in song. I really loved how the team ministered both prophetically and powerfully to our congregation. But as I watched the team on stage and our congregants, I realized that I had actually dropped a major ball.

I noted that the way this team led and the way our congregation was used to being led in worship were two completely different styles. Not that the team did a bad job, or that our congregants were not receptive, on the contrary, the worship was powerful that Sunday- the energy levels were extremely high, the worship, spirit-filled and the music creative.

As I observed the whole service, I thought that there should have been a way for me to prepare our congregation, our staff team and the visiting team.

1. Prepare your team

I kept thinking how lucky we were that we knew the visiting team. However, it would have been an absolute blunder if the worship team did not believe in the same things we did. Can you imagine the amount of damage control we would have had to do if any of the worship leaders gave a heretic word in between their set?

We always have to remember that the team that is visiting will go back to their home church and you will be left with a confused congregation or a group of visitors who might never return to your church because they assume that that’s what you believe in.

Preparing your team to be on standby will help you keep things in check just in case the team says or does something that is not in tandem with your beliefs. It may also help to have your team attend the practice sessions of the visiting team.

This will help you cover a few things:

  1. You will get to know whether the visiting team holds the same standards when it comes to music excellence. This allows your team to be ready just in case the visiting team is not well trained, prepared or musically gifted.

For a very long time we have insisted that people should listen to the lyrics and not the voices. The problem with that thought is that we have completely disregarded excellence and found a way to celebrate mediocrity. In fact, this is how the writer of Colossians puts it: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

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  1. Have a member from your team introduce the visiting team and also lead prayer during worship. Worship is very relational, if the congregation doesn’t know the team leading, they will struggle to connect. Having a team member introduce the visitors lends authority to them. Having a team member lead prayer reduces the chances of someone saying something that is slightly off.

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2. Prepare your congregation

As stated earlier, worship is very relational. {If I were to be honest, every part of the service is extremely relational}. It would therefore be wise to make an announcement the Sunday before that you intend on having a visiting team lead worship.

If you attended their practice session and you already know that they lead worship very differently from your team then prepare your congregation, tell them it is going to be a different kind of worship. Imagine inviting a rock worship band to a church that is used to singing hymns? Change is hard to accept. Communicating allows the congregation to come prepared for change. This will make the service easier for them, you and the visiting team.

Ministry is all about care and when we communicate with our congregations concerning changes in the program, it also communicates that you care about them.

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3. Prepare the visiting team

The last and most important conversation to have is with the visiting team. This conversation should be divided into a pre-visit conversation and post-visit conversation.

Pre-visit Conversation

Give the visiting team as much information about your service as possible. Over explain. The more information the visiting team has, the better they will minister in your church. Two cannot walk together unless they agree; therefore, find ways to iron out any differences you may have in approach. Find out what equipment they may need and make the relevant adjustments.

Take this time to also pray together. Always remember it is not a performance you are calling them to, rather you are calling them to minister.

Post-visit conversation

Arrange a meeting with the team or their team leader following their ministration. This is where you ask them what they observed, struggled with or what you as a church could improve on. The truth of the matter is, there is always something you can learn from others, and sometimes it takes fresh eyes to notice a problem that has been brewing right under your nose.

Ask questions like:

  • What could we have done to make your visit more impactful?
  • What changes can we make for our service to be better?
  • What did you notice about our congregation?

This is also a good time for you to give the visiting team feedback on how they led and areas they can improve on. It would be wise if you considered giving this feedback a day or even a week after the day they led. This is because most ministers already know what they did wrong and are beating themselves. Offering recommendations immediately after service could actually discourage the team. Take a day or two, or even a week to craft your recommendations in a way that would build and encourage the team.

 

Mighty Warrior, Rise Up!

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This week has been a week of firsts for me. I was invited to a creative forum as a rapporteur and then by a former lecturer to assist him in one of his classes. Though I have trained before at the university level, this was a learning curve for me as the invitation was to lend capacity in a Master’s leadership class.

Day one of introduction was interesting, as the lecturer gave a brief background of my work. I was intimidated to say the least, being in the presence of great leaders from different sectors of society who were much older than I, and had many years of experience to back them up.

Self-doubt crept in as I wondered what I had to offer this class.

I was in good company though, with many bible greats who doubted themselves after receiving opportunities to do certain tasks.

This experience got me reflecting on the biblical story of Gideon. When he is introduced, we find him threshing wheat in a winepress. The Israelites at this point have endured such severe oppression at the hands of the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern people because of their disobedience {Judges 6}.

Gideon was trying to hide his produce from the Midianites when the angel of the Lord appeared to him. The greeting that the angel chose to use was highly unusual, as Gideon did not embody a mighty warrior. In fact, the dialogue that followed showed the exact state of Gideon’s heart: he was afraid, discouraged and disillusioned.

Isn’t that how God deals with us?

He calls us out with the intention of using us greatly even when we do not look the part. He calls us mighty warriors when we are in hiding and imparts in us His great power to do exploits.

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Maybe like Gideon, God is inviting you to do something that is outside your comfort zone and you are contemplating declining the offer. Maybe the Lord has been speaking to you to step out, but self-doubt has caused you to hold back and cower in fear. I believe that God is saying to you: “The Lord is with you mighty warrior.”

I have come to appreciate every opportunity that God brings my way. I have found that these opportunities may seem like steep learning curves that cause you to look to God rather than your own abilities. In saying yes to God, the growth that follows is like a domino effect, opening greater doors in places you had never envisioned.

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In this season, God is calling His warriors who are discouraged and afraid, to stand up and be all that He has called them to be. For some, they have been saying, “I have missed it”, for others “I am just not good enough” and for some, “I do not have the expertise.” Whatever the reason for holding back, hear these words loud and clear:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”

{Joshua 1:9}

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Be assured that if God is calling you, He has already deposited in you a set of skills, gifts, and abilities that will see His work in, and through you accomplished.

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” {1st Samuel 16:7b}

Today is the day of your visitation, today is the day for you to be strong, today is your day- mighty warrior, rise up, for the Lord is with you!

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Who hurt you? An invitation to healing

whohurtyoubanner1Horatio Spafford was a successful lawyer, father and husband until misfortune struck. His 2 year old son died, his property was damaged in the Great Chicago Fire and his four daughters died when the ship they were aboard sunk. After receiving the news of his daughter’s deaths, Spafford travelled to meet his grieving wife across the Atlantic. While passing where his daughters had died, he wrote the famous lyrics to the song: It is well with my soul.

He and his wife later on had three more children, but only two survived.

Hurt is inevitable. As long as you are alive, you will be hurt deeply and you will equally hurt others. Because we live in a fallen and depraved world, we shall experience hurts from our own mistakes, other’s mistakes and the effects of sin in the natural world around us. Careless words will be spoken, evil deeds will be done, leaving you emotionally wounded and sometimes unable to function normally.

More often than not, deep wounds are inflicted on us in our formative years in the home and school setting. The family is where we form our identity as children. It is where important questions about self and purpose are answered. Deep wounds can occur when we feel misunderstood, ignored, or rejected.

whohurtyou_q2As a result, we carry these hurts into adulthood unaware of the power they wield on how we relate and act. For example, if one has been bullied in their family of origin, this individual may go through life as a victim or take on the role of a bully. Despite our circumstances, our Heavenly Father desires to heal and strengthen us, so that we can offer hope and comfort to others {2nd Corinthians 1:3-4}. In this season, I believe that Heaven has sent an invitation of healing for all those whose hearts are broken, those who have been sidelined, overlooked, and rejected.

whohurtyou_q1But how do we partner with God in receiving our healing?

1. Forgive

Forgiveness is key if we are to receive healing from God. When we hold on to offense, it is easy for Satan to inflict further wounds on us {Matthew 18:21-35}. An unforgiving heart is prime ground for bitterness which not only destroys us, but those around us. Bitterness is like a cancer, it subtly infects every area of your life- spiritual, emotional and even physical, damaging an individual.

whohurtyou_q3God has provided a way out- forgiveness.

Forgiveness is impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit. The feelings of bitterness may keep coming up and the sting of the hurt may be fresh in your mind. As we submit these negative feelings to Him as regularly as they come up, He provides us with the grace to overcome.

With every slight, forgive. Forgive and move on. Do not let unforgiveness fester.

Three people that we must commit to forgive are: Ourselves, God, and those we interact with.

When we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves, we shall fail. It is important to understand that being human guarantees that we shall make many mistakes. Being gracious when we do fail, and learning to forgive ourselves releases us to receive healing from God. Secondly, we may feel that God has failed us in certain situations. Whether we admit it or not, we can harbor feelings of bitterness and hatred towards Him. We don’t “forgive” God because He is at fault. Forgiving God means that we refuse to blame Him for our perceived unmet expectations.

Lastly, if we do not forgive those who hurt us, how can we expect to receive mercy from others when we hurt them, or from God when we sin? {Mark 11:25, Matthew 6:14-15}

2. Release and bless

In surrendering our hurts and wounds to the Lord, He promises to carry our pain {1st Peter 5:7}. Releasing those who offend you means that you give them over to the One who can judge the intentions and attitudes of the hearts of people rightly. When we refuse to release our offenders, we are essentially putting ourselves in the position of judge and jury {Matthew 7:1-5, Romans 14:4, Proverbs 21:2, Luke 6:37}.

whohurtyou_q4Releasing and blessing those who have hurt us gives room for God to work in their hearts and ours, at His time.

3. Pray for

Pray for your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Pray for those who disregard and reject you {Matthew 5:43-48}. This may sound like a tall order and it certainly is without the help of the Holy Spirit. One practice I have found to be helpful when I struggle with the sting of wounds, is to pray concerning the issue each time I think of the offense or offender, until the negative feelings lift.

It is important to note that while we are praying for those who have hurt us, we must go to the Lord with a heart that is ready to be changed. It could be that while praying, we realize that we may have contributed in one way or another to the breakdown of peace in that relationship. Therefore, pray for your heart too, and ask the Lord to show you what areas you can change.

whohurtyou_q5Whoever hurt you, whatever was said about you, whatever wounds were inflicted on you as a child, whether by the actions of others or just because we live in a sinful world, it is time to let go. It may not be an easy process, but it is worth it. And just like Horatio Spafford who was wounded deeply, but cried: it is well with my soul in surrender, I would like to encourage you to cry out to your Heavenly Father and accept this wonderful invitation to healing by forgiving, releasing and praying for those who have hurt you.

Leading Me: 3 ways to become a better leader

va22I dedicated my life to Christ when I was pretty young and the journey has been interesting…in a good way. It has been a journey of listening, learning, obedience, and like a child- tantrums.

Sometimes, the conversations I have with God sound a bit like this one taken from The Hobbit. 

Gandalf: I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.

Bilbo: I should think so- in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures…I can’t think what anybody sees in them…

Gandalf: You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back

Bilbo: You can promise that I’ll come back?

Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same.

The last part particularly rings true for me. Most, if not all of the adventures we take with God change us so deeply, sometimes to the point of being unrecognizable to those we are familiar with. To the feeble, He imparts strength, to the fearful courage, and to the sinner righteousness. However, these changes can only be fully experienced and appreciated when we accept the challenge to be like Roosevelt’s man in the arena, present in the midst of opposition and ready to answer the call to try.

va22Today I want to share about a call of adventure that every effective leader past and present has answered and must choose to answer in order to leave a noteworthy legacy: The call to lead yourself. If you cannot lead yourself, you certainly will not lead the masses.

So what are the areas that we need to look out for when leading ourselves?

1) Heal

Hurt impedes the flow of God’s anointing in your life. It can stem from various sources. The most likely source being familial. The family is where we form our identity as children. It is where important questions about self and purpose are answered. Deep wounds can occur when we feel misunderstood, ignored, or rejected as children. Unfortunately, these wounds become a part of how we live and lead, affecting our leadership philosophy. It is important to remember that hurting leaders will eventually hurt their followers. As it is commonly said, hurt people, hurt people.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, the resulting feelings from any kind of wound may seem negative, and individuals tend to push down the discomfort not realizing that buried pain remains alive until we address it.

Nevertheless, God is our healer {Psalms 147:3} and has made His healing available to us through the power of the Holy Spirit {James 5:14-15}. He alone understands the extent of the wounds and is eager to bring release to those areas. In addition, I believe that He uses the expertise of psychologists and psychiatrists to enable us to move past traumatic events.

I will share more about this in a follow-up article.

va222) Reflect

I believe that your personal life influences your public life significantly. If I am weak in a certain area of character, the cracks will begin to show sooner than later in my leadership. Reflect on your personal values and how you can strengthen areas of weakness. It is difficult to instruct your followers about certain principles if you are not living them out yourself. For example, manage your time well if you desire your team to do the same. This way, your team sees how authentic a leader you are, and hopefully follows your example.

And remember that no matter how gifted or anointed you are, your character is of more worth in this life and the next. With this view in mind, do not get tired of consistently seeking to be more self-aware.

One way you can do this is through asking. Ask your followers how your leadership is affecting them, both positively and negatively. Ask your trusted friends how they think you can improve on your character. Ask God to show you areas of weakness that need to be changed.

va223) Learn

Assume a posture of learning. Learn from your and other’s mistakes, learn from others, learn by observing. Never assume that you have all the answers. There are a gazillion approaches to leadership based on context, culture and other factors. In leadership, one size fits all does not apply. Therefore, be quick to listen and slow to speak {James 1:19}.

va22So, having read the points above, maybe you are hurting and therefore are not able to be an effective minister to your team. Maybe upon reflection you find your character wanting, or maybe you have not assumed a posture of learning in your leadership. You don’t have to stay there. Allow God to do a work in you. I would like to invite you on an adventurous journey of healing, reflection and learning as we lead ourselves.

Building Teams

BUILDING TEAMS BANNERAs far back as I can remember, I have either started a group or been part of the initial stages of a venture. I have learnt invaluable lessons that have informed my leadership philosophy. All of which you can read here and here.

Building teams is not an easy task for either a seasoned or emerging leader. Every group has its own dynamics and culture, not to mention individual personalities that form the group. For a group to move successfully through the 5 stages of formation, a leader must be intentional about how they lead their team.

building_teams_q3In my training sessions, the question on building teams comes up a lot, and I have been requested a number of times to assist worship teams that are starting out or have reached a difficult stage in their group life cycle. Today’s post will delve into four leadership styles as proposed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, that could enable your group to start well and finish strong.

  1. Directing

As the name suggests, the leader uses a leadership style that leans heavily towards giving instruction, supervising, teaching and monitoring. In this style, most decisions are made by the leader, giving no room for delegation.

When starting out in a worship team, it may be prudent to use this kind of leadership style. Individuals come into the team eager and with a high commitment to accomplish new tasks, but they may not have the skill set to follow through.

For example, your worship team may be experiencing a shortage of voice parts. Depending on individual vocal ranges, you could teach the altos to interchange between alto and soprano and vice versa. This will require your constant supervision during practice sessions to ensure that the singers are singing on the correct pitch.

  1. Coaching

Though final decisions ultimately lie with the leader in this style, the leader nevertheless engages their followers by explaining decisions, asking for group opinions concerning issues and affirming the followers.

It is critical for the leader to affirm followers here because commitment drops. The excitement that the follower felt initially at the start of the group may give way to discouragement due to disillusionment in job expectations.

In previous groups, I have noted that followers may leave the group altogether if they feel that the task at hand or information they are learning is too difficult for them to grasp. An example is when I was leading a group of musicians in training. Some dropped out of the class and when I followed up with them, they mentioned being overwhelmed due to the material. I learned the importance of oversimplifying concepts, over-explaining and allowing followers to give feedback, so as to allow all my students the opportunity to grasp the material.

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  1. Supporting

In this style, the leader listens to their followers, asks questions, affirms and enables their followers to become independent problem solvers. The leader here becomes a collaborator with the follower in accomplishing tasks.

The followers may feel a sense of incompetence despite the fact that they have acquired the skill set to complete tasks in the worship team. This self-doubt may lead to insecurity or apathy.

Using a biblical example, Jesus on numerous occasions gave his disciples opportunities to solve problems. In Luke 9:10-17 in particular, the disciples approach Jesus and ask him to send the crowds he had been preaching to away, to find food and lodging. However, Jesus responds by saying “You give them something to eat.” [Luke 9:13], giving them the opportunity to exercise all that he had taught them.

  1. Delegating

The leader here empowers the follower to act independently by challenging, delegating and affirming. The follower becomes exemplary and demonstrates a high level of commitment and competence. The follower is confident, autonomous and is an expert at what they are tasked to do.

One leader that I respect deeply has this to say about delegating: “The aim of leadership is to become irrelevant.” This means that a leader needs to actively replace himself by teaching his followers everything he knows about his role, freeing oneself to learn from those he is following.

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I would like to hear from you. How are you leading your team to become a winning team?

 

 

Finishing Well

FINISHING WELL2My husband and I formed a culture of thanksgiving in our home. Every night before bed, we ask three questions in reflection of our day: What was your high? What was your low? And, what are you thankful for? This practice has often put life in perspective, especially in tough seasons.

Last week was a particularly special week for my family; it was a week of many highs. Two families that we are close to, celebrated great milestones in their lives. One family celebrated a decade of ministry and the other completed a project that was dear to their hearts for many years.

In observing both families and various other individuals who have continued to lead with integrity, there seems to be a common thread in how they navigate through personal and ministry situations. How we lead consistently, determines the kind of legacy we leave. Here are a few points we can reflect on as we think about finishing well.

FINISHING_WELL_Q31. Family is your first ministry

In 1st Timothy 3:4-5 and Titus 1:6, Paul emphasizes how important it is for a minister to manage his own family well. He underscores this by asking: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?”

Many times, the felt needs of the church or a job situation may be overwhelmingly numerous. However, no matter what capacity you are engaged in, in your work, you have to determine to keep your family first. If your family is in shambles, you will not be able to minister effectively.

Your first ministry should be to woo, take care of and pray for the family that God has called you to. This requires you to be present and all-there. Being present means that you train your child in the way that he should go (Proverbs 22:6), and love your spouse the way Christ intended (Ephesians 5:22-28). If your family is miserable because you do not spend adequate time with them, could it be time to rethink the extent of your involvement at work?

FINISHING_WELL_Q42. Accountability in all seasons

As believers, we are accountable to God (Romans 14:12) as well as to the body of believers. When we remove ourselves from that accountability, it is easy for Satan to attack us with devastating results.

Remaining accountable enables us to become increasingly aware of areas of weakness and strength. These relationships allow for affirmation, encouragement, instruction and correction (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

Accountability can also be present in mentor-mentee relationships. Allowing your protégé’s to give you feedback about the effectiveness of your leadership style matures you as a leader. In addition, great leaders are not afraid to share their knowledge and life experiences with their protégé’s. An effective leader understands that they have accomplished greatness only when they have enabled the next generation leader to be better than they are.

FINISHING_WELL_Q23. Outdo each other in honor

One characteristic I have observed in great leaders is their ability to honor those around them regardless of socio-economic status. Taking the example of Jesus who was born in Nazareth, a small town that is said to have been poor and backward, Jesus chose to make his in-group a band of unpolished fishermen, tax collectors, and religious zealots. He did so, so that no one could boast.

In the same way, great leaders do not think of themselves more highly than those they lead, but honor others above themselves (Romans 12:10b). In the aforementioned verse, Paul states, “outdo one another in showing honor” (ESV), reminding us that if ever there was a time to compete in the body of Christ it should be in how we honor each other.

“The true test of honor, therefore, is how we treat those whom we have nothing to gain from” (Barak Al’Mondia).

FINISHING_WELL_Q14. Simplicity

“Simplicity is the only thing that sufficiently reorients our lives so that possessions can be genuinely enjoyed without destroying us.” Richard Foster. Wealth is temporal, so is fashion and so are gadgets. For us to finish well, we must use wealth to benefit our families and those around us. We must view money as a means to an end and not the end itself. Yes, live in a lavish home if you want, drive an expensive car if you can, but by no means should you allow these to become the focal point of your life, derailing you from right relationships with God and people (1st Timothy 6:10). Remember that all the gifts God gives us are for our good and benefit. God desires to use your wealth to bring glory to His name.

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There are a myriad of points I could add to this list. However, I would like to hear from you. What are you doing to ensure that the legacy you leave is one of honor that glorifies God and blesses those you lead?

Evolution: The 5 stages of a worship team

evolution bannerA few years back, I was tasked with starting a worship team with the aim of developing leaders and musical skill. This was my very first attempt at leading a group from which I learned valuable lessons that continue to inform my leadership philosophy. Being an emerging leader, I did not know what to expect or how to handle the challenging situations that presented themselves. In hindsight, this experience allowed me to reflect in order to lead better.

If you find yourself in a position of leadership and you are wondering where your worship team is in terms of development, here are five stages by Bruce Tuckman you can consider:

evolution forming bannerThis is the initial stage in the evolution of a group. Individuals from different backgrounds, having various past experiences, skills and gifts come together to accomplish certain tasks. At this stage, the followers may seem anxious or excited. Issues of power, inclusion and intimacy may cause apprehension. This is because the followers do not know how they fit into the group and how this group will serve their own needs in the long run.

It is important for the leader to clarify the vision, allow followers to ask questions, model expected behaviour to the followers, and lastly, give the group an opportunity to gel. It is noteworthy that the ensuing culture in a group may stem from how this stage is maneuvered.

evolution storming bannerAs the name suggests, this stage involves conflict. Conflict does not necessarily have to end in division and strife. Every group should strive to use conflict to transform relationships.

In this stage, the followers may feel freer to air their grievances, ideas and opinions. Sometimes, this may also come off as challenging the assigned leader’s authority.

Allowing followers to discuss issues openly while maintaining core team values, may move your team to the next stage.

evolution norming bannerIn this phase, the group may seem more cohesive. Individuals are getting to know each other better and may even give constructive feedback that ultimately advances the processes in the group. In addition, followers who are alienated may begin to work towards group success. There is an increase in clarity of vision and group roles.

The leader can capitalize on this stage by increasing trust. One way to do this is through worship team hang-outs and encouraging truth telling.

evolution performing bannerAfter moving through the stages aforementioned, individuals in the team are best placed to accomplish their assigned goals. This is because they have moved past issues of identity, conflict etc. These followers can now take on their assigned roles with more initiative and may not require much supervision. Teamwork, camaraderie, conflict resolution and task completion are characteristics of this stage. The leader should delegate more in this phase.

evolution adjourning bannerMost teams at one point or another may reach the end of their life cycle. You may find that the vision for which the group was formed has been completed. It may be time to re-envision or to close out the group.

In my experience, the group I was leading did not get past the storming stage. Unfortunately, we closed out. Your story as a leader can be different with the team you are leading. Where do you perceive your team to be in these stages and how can you lead them to perform their God given tasks effectively?

The 5 Types of Followers in your Team

5_types_of_followers_bannerThis coming Saturday, I have been asked to speak at a worship conference. There are so many ideas I would like my listener’s to interact with. On mulling over what would be the best topic, followership comes to mind. So much research has been carried out on what it means to be an effective leader, and a quick go on any search engine will bring up thousands of articles. Only recently has research focused on a critical component of the leadership process: The follower.

There is a great misconception- that the success of a team is dependent and credited solely on a leader. This misconception has led many leaders to neglect engaging with and building their teams. It sometimes feels like a transactional event- a leader leads, individuals do what the leader expects of them and the positive outcome of this transaction is then attributed to the leader.

However, followers play a vital role in the growth and sustainability of any organization or team. Today, I want to focus on the different types of followers as proposed by Kelley, who theorized that there are five types: Alienated, passive, conformist, pragmatic, and exemplary. This post builds on his work as I draw parallels to biblical characters.

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  1. The Absalom Type

This type of follower is also known as an alienated follower. The alienated follower may have started off as an exemplary follower, with great ideas and talent. However, along the way, probably because of discouragement, unappreciation or having their ideas ignored, this follower became cynical towards the leader and those followers who seem to have bought-in to the vision of the team.

Absalom was a man of promise, the son of a king, and a great leader based on how he rallied the troupes towards a cause (2nd Samuel 15:13). However, what may have been an epic, quickly disintegrated into rebellion. Absalom’s sister Tamar was raped, David took no action and we find a discouraged and enraged Absalom murdering the perpetrator and later taking the kingdom of Israel away from David (2nd Samuel:13-15). David’s unwillingness to address the situation may have embittered Absalom and caused the division in his house.

Follower– unfortunately, the ministry of song leading or any ministry for that matter, may appear more often than not, to be a thankless job. In fact, there may be more criticism than praise, from your leaders and congregation, concerning what you put out every Sunday. Continue to engage your leaders in areas of concern, and do not let your heart be embittered.

Leader– determine before God that you will begin to truly listen to, and encourage your followers, especially when they are not their best. Even while correcting, or giving feedback, always begin with the areas they are excelling in. Enable your followers to feel that their ideas are valued and their work appreciated.

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  1. The Moses Type

The Moses type is a passive follower. They are highly dependent on their leader for direction and thus require a great deal of supervision.

I perceive Moses to be a passive follower when God called him. Maybe due to the hardships he faced after certain life choices (Exodus 2:12), or familial upbringing. Whatever it was, Moses always seemed to be uncertain of himself and God’s providence, leading him to shy away from his calling (Exodus 4). God finally gave him an aide who acted as a mouthpiece.

Follower– begin to take an active role in your team. Start small with ideas that are likely to give you a win.

Leader– allow your followers to dream, innovate and implement, despite your own fears of failure. Innovation comes at a cost- meaning that there is a great likelihood that the idea may fail. However, would you prefer a team that is constantly advancing its processes, or one that is retrogressive?

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  1. The Joab Type

Also known as a “yes man”, the conformist follower is a highly submissive individual who does not question their leaders’ ideas or actions. This type of follower excels in a team because they do what they are told to do and at whatever cost. An extreme scenario in a worship team would be where this type of follower is asked to compromise on their personal moral or ethical values to cover a leader. This type of follower may find it difficult to say no.

In 2nd Samuel 11:14, David instructs Joab to have Uriah killed. Joab did not question this instruction, but obeyed fully. In fact, he later on gave a detailed report of the murder. Despite the repercussions, Joab was in a position to say no to the king and uphold his integrity- instead, he chose not to.

Follower– there is a difference between critical thinking and insubordination.

Leader– it is not insubordination for your followers to ask for clarity or even disagree with your ideas.

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  1. The Peter Type

This type is called the pragmatic follower. These followers are driven by fear and a survivalist mentality. Consequently, they become opportunists, depending on what kind of situation they find themselves in. For example, in order to keep their position in a team, a pragmatic follower may conform to a leader, or become a highly engaged individual.

Peter was vocal about his allegiance to Christ, declaring that he would even die with the Lord if it came to that (Matthew 26:35). However, later out of fear, we see Peter changing his confession (John 18:17).

Leader– take the example of Jesus in leading this type of follower. He restores Peter by affirming him and giving him a vision to live for.

  1. The Paul Type

These followers are also known as exemplary/courageous followers. They are an asset to their organization because they question their leader’s actions and ideas, something that other types of followers may be afraid to do, ultimately leading to the organization’s growth. These followers employ critical thinking and are active in the team, therefore ideally the kind of followers to have.

Paul in Galatians 2:11-14 calls Peter out concerning a fundamental issue in the Gospel. I perceive Paul to be an exemplary follower because he was willing to have a very uncomfortable conversation with his leader that eventually led to the inclusion of the Gentiles.

In your worship team, this follower may constantly ask questions concerning issues. However, don’t be insecure. In fact, encourage them.

Follower– as earlier noted, there is a difference between critical thinking and insubordination. Therefore, learn how to approach your leader in respect and love.

Leader– allow your team members the opportunity to examine an idea, especially one that directly affects them. Asking questions also clarifies vision and goals.

5_types_of_followers_banner_Qoute5It may be that you find yourself leaning towards a followership style that is detrimental to your team. You don’t have to stay there. You can be the kind of follower God created you to be- one that will bring much joy to your team.

On the other hand, you may be struggling to lead your followers. Could it be that you need to evaluate how you are leading and if this leadership style is serving the team? How can you challenge your followers to become exemplary?