Other Updates:

Reflections on Leading a GRIP Team Process

Introducing Discerning Direction Together

5 Reasons to Attend Set in Motion

Dissecting the Dotted Diamond

Resilience in Ministry

The Allure of Structure

Body Life Value: Connecting

In community we develop deep connections with one another that provide an ideal environment for personal and team transformation. Interdependence increases as we learn to know and submit to one another.

Individual Value:  I am self-aware. 

Shared Value:  We are interdependent.

Team Skills:  Space Creation/Discovery/Role Clarity/Sharing Need

Biblical References:  Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 5:21; Act 2 & 6

Body Life Result:  Christ-Revealing Unity 

I handed off a task today.  And one two days before that. I also scheduled three calls I really didn’t need to schedule… because I enjoy getting to share a couple of my passions with others, and one person asked for feedback in an area of my experience. 

I had a team member raise a couple of questions to create clear separation, and defined overlap, between our work.  I was initially annoyed to have (what felt to me like) a repeat conversation, but then realized the freedom he experienced when we affirmed our role, our strengths, and the unique value we each brought.  It took 30 minutes I didn’t have to give, but saved at least 2 hours of duplication and at least another hour of meetings to walk on eggshells about who was supposed to cover what.

Connecting is about knowing each other deeply so that we do our work differently based upon our strengths, needs, and aversions.  It is the application of knowledge about how we can put people in a place to succeed in everyday tasks that highlight our unique design and our unique contributions.  It is about being self-aware in order to appropriately see how the “I” can fit with the “We.”  This is interdependence in the real world.  And it doesn’t happen by mistake, or because of a good team leader, or because we like each other.  It happens when there is intentionality toward action-oriented connecting.

But let’s back up one step.  Three foundational elements must be in place for a team to connect in a way that leads to interdependence: our settled relationship with Jesus, our shared commitment to our direction, and our wholistic wellness.

Once these pieces are in place, relationships have the fertile ground to grow in three areas:  Caring that leads to a sense of belonging; Sharing that leads to boldness; and -as we’ll discuss below- Connecting that leads to Christ-revealing unity.

Connecting with others in a meaningful way requires discovery.  Discovery is a big word that simply means to make known or visible.  This happens with two audiences:  internally about ourselves and externally in discovery (or pursuit) of others.  There are two ways we can discover: are 1. proactive, intentional pursuit and 2. reflection.

The main problem with discovery is that we tend to focus on self, rather than on the pursuit of others.  It is easy for our personal findings to feel relevant because they are ‘about us.’  However, our most insightful discoveries will happen in the context of relationships.  Even if an assessment or tool is used, shared meaning is created through conversation.  Personal reflections on interactions and our responses, emotions, and experiences provide insights for ourselves and others.

Discovery requires margin.  Discovery sounds nice.  But in the age of Zoom and text interactions, we have often overlooked an important truth: Discovery requires margin.  Creating space on calendars for personal- and team reflection should not be viewed as a luxury, rather as a critical operational need to create teams of interdependence.  Without margin, our aspirations of knowing one another will not happen.

Margin enables conversations.  In the space we block, we allow conversations to happen.  Today I called a CEO of a hospital as they are in the middle of a surge.  After 30 minutes of reflective questions, she thanked me for my time.  Why?  I had intentionally removed her from the intensity of the moment to have a conversation, giving her space to reflect, prioritize, and re-engage in areas of her strength.  It wasn’t masterful coaching – it was intentional margin.  Margin can be white space where we are together, it can be a scheduled time of team building, or it can be blocked time of personal self-reflection followed by intentional sharing.

Conversations lead to understanding strengths, weaknesses, and needs.  My wife graciously reminds me “I am not a mind-reader” occasionally when her actions don’t match my unspoken (and often unrealistic) expectations.  Conversations can provide meaningful insights when done with intentionality. Connecting happens when I understand and communicate who I am, and when you reciprocate.  Pursuing questions around strengths, joy, motivation, fears, and blind spots generates valuable connections.

Sharing strengths and needs lead to role definition.  Knowing about each other is not enough.  The critical step applying that knowledge to the extent that it changes how we operate together.  True connection moves past trust and vulnerability and expands into how our strengths, weaknesses, and needs show up in the team setting.  We know we are successfully connecting when we understand what tasks and operations each person naturally leans into, and those where we have aversions.  We know we are successfully connecting when we are free of the obligation to volunteer out of duty and instead volunteer out of our unique value or contribution.

Though we may all work toward the same goal, and even have the same required activities (think budgeting, reviews, leading meetings, etc), a connected team will delegate tasks to those who have joy and strengths in related areas. Additionally, connected leaders can ask for support or help in places where it is needed without fear of overwhelming or draining others. When we begin to see patterns of tasks for individuals, we can begin to shape opportunities for growth for each person.  This also can lead to us specifically communicating need to one another.

Role definition around strengths and needs leads to interdependence.  When I own my own weaknesses in such a way that I communicate “I need you” or “You excel in this area and I do not”, we affirm the other person.  This ongoing affirmation of our strengths through communication of our need for one another becomes a reinforcing behavior of interdependence.  Boldly communicating the value each person brings with team members, as well as those outside the team facilitates our growth together.  This behavior will set course for project assignments, growth or expansion opportunities, and for the way we onboard new team members.  There is freedom in interdependence to live into our ‘sweet spot’ of spiritual gifting and strengths.

Interdependence results in Christ-Revealing Unity.  When a team consistently functions interdependently, Christ is honored.  The church in Acts 6 knew this when they appointed seven to serve so others could go on preaching.  It was not about not doing things, it was about getting the right people to do the right things so that everyone was freed to play their God-designed role so that more people would know Jesus. And it worked. Act 6:7 says “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem and a great many of the priests become obedient to the faith.”

So, if our desire is Christ-revealing unity as the Body of Christ, we may need to delegate, create space, lean into conversations, and begin to volunteer our strengths, not our time.

And then do it again.

Sometimes a visual can help.  Do you remember the Coke commercial where all the insects play their part in opening and partaking in the drink?  It highlights role clarity, and interconnectedness.  Check it out.

How would you assess your team in the discipline of connecting? Rate yourself on these evaluative statements:

  1. My participation is informed by my personality, Gifts and needs, as well as those of the team.
  2. We spend regular time as a team getting to know each others’ strengths and weaknesses so we can work together more effectively.
  3. Our team values, affirms and optimizes each others’ unique contribution.

How are you and your team doing in the area of connecting? What specific actions might you need to take as a result to deepen your connection to one another?

See the GB Coaches Cafe on Connecting at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdfuvOfQUNE&t=29s
or listen on your favorite podcast platform: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1885604/share

© Copyright 2022 - GRIP-Birkman - a product of I to We, Inc