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

Thriving Together

Individual Value:  Physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness.  

Shared Value:  Corporate wellness. We are more effective when we care for each other’s health as well as our own. 

Team Skills:  Healthy r­hythms of work, rest, and spiritual renewal​

Biblical References:  Ephesians 5:1-20​; Philippians 2:4​; Galatians 6:2; Jeremiah 17:8​; Psalm 1:3​; Deuteronomy 6:5; Daniel

Body Life Result:  Fruitful living

A trainer challenged a group of team leaders to “burn yourselves out for Jesus.” That might sound good to some people. After all, Jesus did say “Work for the night is coming…” and “the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few.” The challenge can be overwhelming. At the same time, there is a problem with that trainer’s challenge. If we all follow his advice, at the end of the day all we will have is a bunch of burned out, washed up, wasted, and useless personnel. By the way, the manager immediately countermanded that challenge to “burn out for Jesus” and encouraged the team leaders present to do a better job as stewards of the people they were leading.

If we are only focused on results and don’t take care of ourselves along the way, we might get immediate flash-in-the-pan results, but our long-term effectiveness will suffer. Imagine a 500-mile auto race in which the driver plans to never make a pit stop. He might take the lead for a while, but we can guarantee that he will not win the race.

Burnout has reached pandemic proportions in the workplace. In a recent Indeed survey, 52% of respondents said they are feeling burned out. We could wish that the statistic would be less in ministry teams, but in reality, the number seems to hold true across the board.

Part of the problem is the blurring of boundaries in a digital age where more and more people are working from home. Indeed found that 61% of remote workers and 53% of on-site workers now find it more difficult to “unplug” from work during off-hours. Thirty-nine percent of all workers say they check emails outside of regular work hours every day. Sadly, only 6% of virtual workers say they never check emails after hours.

No wonder so many individuals report that they have feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from their job, feelings of negativism or cynicism related to their job, and reduced professional efficacy. That’s burnout.

Although burnout is not a medical diagnosis, as such, the health implications for individuals and the resulting drain on team effectiveness are obvious. Burnout can affect one’s mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual health. If one team member is suffering, then others on the team are also likely to suffer—perhaps with their own exhaustion from overwork or as collateral effects from the negative attitude of their suffering teammate.

How then can we combat this pandemic and build healthy thriving teams that are also effective, productive, and bearing fruit for the kingdom of God over the long haul? Here are a few characteristics of thriving teams to stimulate your thinking.

Members of a thriving team have learned how to take care of themselves.
It’s not enough just to recognize that a team member is suffering. A thriving community demonstrates their love for one another by actively nurturing and protecting one another so that each team member and the team as a community can thrive. (Philippians 2:4)

Members of a thriving team establish clear boundaries and keep a healthy work-life balance.

Together, the team must find and actively promote a pace of life that allows for holistic health (including physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological). This involves creating and maintaining healthy rhythms of work, rest, and spiritual renewal, both on the individual level and also as a team. Complete care is seen as both an individual discipline and also a shared responsibility of each team member toward others on the team. Team members hold each other accountable for their commitment to maintaining wellness.

Members of a thriving team have learned to optimize their use of resources. 

Thriving teams meet the challenge to do more with less by finding a balance between workloads and priorities, between perfection and “good enough,” and between time spent thinking and acting. If one team member is overloaded, the team finds ways to reduce the load by sharing the burden or by finding things not to do. (Galatians 6:2)

Members of a thriving team connect their individual values with those of their team.

Misalignment of job match can also contribute to the mental, emotional, and physical fatigue that leads to apathy, negativism, or burnout. Thriving teams understand and constantly focus on the purpose, vision, and mission of the organization as well as the task assignment of the team. When individuals also understand how their personal values align with those of the team, then they can become highly effective team members. If it becomes clear that one team member’s values simply do not line up with those of the larger community, then the most loving thing to do might be to help that individual find a place where their values are better aligned.

Members of a thriving team give priority to maintaining spiritual health.

They take seriously Jesus’ admonition: “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Healthy ministry teams recognize their own need for spiritual growth, renewal, and soul care. Time and resources spent for spiritual development are seen as a good investment.

Members of a thriving team regularly affirm one other’s strengths and contributions.

Affirmation in a team can be a powerful vitamin to build and maintain healthy attitudes and unity. The best team leaders give a healthy mixture of public and private affirmations. Handwritten notes are sometimes more appreciated because of the extra effort required. Caution: Be sure the affirmation is genuine. Some people can be demotivated by what they consider to be disingenuous or generic affirmations. It needs to be personal and real. Which leads to the last observation…

Members of a thriving team take time to be together outside of work.

Healthy teams set aside time for fun, fellowship, relationship building. Caution: Be aware and respectful of team member’s needs and expectations in regard to social and physical energy. Not everyone on the team will necessarily enjoy the same leisure activities. Some high energy people need couch time on the weekends. Some members will love a walk in the woods while others will prefer to sit and sip coffee at a sidewalk café.

How about you and your team?

How would you rate yourself on your personal wellness? Rate yourself on these evaluative statements:

  1. I am intentional with my diet and exercise.
  2. I have daily practices for mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
  3. I get enough rest to function at my fullest.

How would you rate your ministry team on the value the team gives to spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness?  Here are three evaluative statements you might use to stimulate your thinking:

  1. Team members feel the freedom and are expected to take time to care for body, mind, and soul by taking regular time away and disconnecting from work (including weekly days off, holidays, extended vacations, and soul care retreats).
  2. Systems are in place to help cover each other without overburdening any individual.
  3. The spiritual, physical, and emotional health of team members is marked by our team’s vitality, joy, and fruitfulness as we work together in loving unity.

So how are you and your team doing in the area of spiritual, emotional, and physical health? Would you say you are thriving, or just surviving? What actions might you need to take as a result of this evaluation?

Watch the GB Coaches Cafe for more on Thriving: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fi9zN91D3Jg&t=1s
or listen to the podcast on your favorite provider: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1885604/share

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