The Grand Underestimation
Relationships… it’s about relationships, stupid. About 6% of the population thinks like a lead planter or pastor or preacher. Motivated solely by Doctrine… Mission… The Glory of God. Everyone’s for them, but they’re rarely enough to recruit, inspire, motivate, and retain people as you grow leaders, teams, and the church. If you underestimate the power of relationship, then growth will head in an unhealthy direction because of unmet relational needs. Never underestimate relationships.
That doesn’t mean everyone has to be best friends. But it does mean that we must get along well enough to avoid the miscommunication, stereotyping, and personality conflicts that so easily get in the way when it’s time to tackle a tough or difficult issue. (p. 30)
It can be difficult getting people to serve. Motivation matters. What is their motivation? Depending on the leaders’ giftedness, the size of the vision, and the amount of life-change, people may go a long way toward serving and living on mission. But if there is to be long term stickiness, camaraderie must develop. Ideally, it should be hard to get people to leave.
Friends vs. Strangers
Friends and strangers have very different patterns of relating to one another.
Friends are vulnerable, while strangers hold their cards close to the vest; friends tend to give each other the benefit of the doubt, while strangers are cautious and suspicious; and when it comes to dicey issues, friends debate, while strangers argue. (p. 31)
Friends have unity. A team is unified when it opens up and there is trust, and above all, understanding for how you are different.
We’re All Transforming Into Christ’s Image
If everyone in a group or team has Life with Jesus, then they’re being transformed into His image (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18). But not all in the same way. And when team members remain strangers, they don’t understand each other. They cannot respect their differences.
The reformers taught Jesus fulfilled three Old Testament offices, King, Prophet, and Priest. A few contend today Jesus also fulfills a fourth New Testament office, Apostle (Heb 3:1). When we enter into Life with Jesus, He begins to change us into His image, but not His total image–part of it–because of differing spiritual gifts and personality wirings. It takes the entire Body of Christ gathered and serving to most beautifully reflect His total image. These different wirings and gift sets must be understood and respected. If a person has developed their spiritual giftedness by serving the church, then their gift mix and personality will cause them to resemble one of these 4 aspects of Jesus, like Priest. Most often, people will also have a secondary bent, as in a Priest-Prophet, so as to make a unique contribution. While every type is good and needed, they don’t mix well when remaining strangers.
King-types: these people are builders, with a primary orientation toward achievement, and happiest when they and the people around them are glorifying God by accomplishing something measurable for the kingdom. They love good stewardship, effective programs, increasing numbers, and conquering problems in society for the advancement of the kingdom. They usually have either great leadership ability or great management ability, and often times have vision. Their spiritual gifts may include leadership, administration, helps or wisdom. When remaining strangers, Priests can see King-types as cold, and Prophets can see them as too pragmatic. If a King has a Prophet bent (King-Prophet), these can be seen as stubborn, insensitive, and seemingly uncaring. When combined with a Priest bent (King-Priest), they are excellent leaders but may seem they care little about the Scripture. When combined with Apostle bent (King-Apostle), to some they look like mavericks.
If you become friends with King-types, you will respect them as a gift to organize and lead groups and teams to advance kingdom interests.
Prophet-types: these people are thinkers, with a primary orientation toward truth, and happiest when they and the people around them are glorifying God by conforming to the letter of Scripture. They love the glory and holiness of God, proclaiming and defending truth, and training people in holy living. If they are somewhat right brained mystical, they can sense and see evil when other don’t, and the other left brained Prophets can spot error and are very studious. Their spiritual gifts may include knowledge, teaching, or discernment. When remaining strangers, Kings and Apostles can think Prophets are impractical and counter-productive, and Priests can see them as unloving. If a Prophet has a King bent (Prophet-King), he can seem self-focused as he builds ministry around himself. When combined with Priest (Prophet-Priest), he can appear to be invasive and presumptuous as he looks into people’s private life. When combined with Apostle (Prophet-Apostle), he can irritate milder sensibilities with smash-mouth evangelism.
If you become friends with Prophet-types, you will respect them as a gift to help groups and teams understand God’s Word and pursue holiness and obedience.
Priest-types: these people are feelers, with a primary orientation toward relationships, and happiest when they and the people around them are glorifying God by growing closer together, finding relational health and wholeness. They love the mercy and grace of God, the word “community” and get joy from talking with people about problems. They usually are compassionate, do well shepherding groups, and sense needs when they arise. They can have spiritual gifts like shepherding, encouragement, and mercy. When remaining strangers, Kings can see Priests as unproductive and overly-sensitive, and Prophets can see them as too soft on sin. When combined with a King bent (Priest-King), they can seem to bend truth in favor of being merciful. When combined with a Prophet bent (Priest-Prophet), they can seem unconcerned with growing the church or pursuing quality improvement. When combined with an Apostle bent (Priest-Apostle), sometimes they sound like an evangelist without a real gospel.
If you become friends with Priest-types, you will respect them as a gift to care for and bring healing and encouragement to groups and teams.
Apostle-types: while they are the least common, these people are originators, with a primary orientation toward the world, and happiest when they and people around them are glorifying God by building new relationships or creating new opportunities. They love the Great Commission, community renewal, and enjoy sharing the Gospel. Most of them will be kinesthetic learners and have gifts of evangelism, faith, hospitality, or can inspire people to follow. They often are somewhat mystical and strong in prayer. When remaining strangers, Kings can see Apostles as disorganized, while Prophets and Priests can think they are too unconcerned with the church. When Apostle is combined with a Priest bent (Apostle-Priest), this person seems to not care about completing a project or not care for biblical accuracy. When combined with a King bent (Apostle-King), they can leave people behind as they run, organize, and burn out those who cannot hang. When combined with Prophet (Apostle-Prophet), they can put their foot in their mouth publicly by making hasty judgments.
If you become friends with Apostle-types, you will respect them as a gift to start-up ministry, originate groups and teams, and help them evangelize the lost.
Friends can be different and yet unified. A unified and diverse team is listed in Ephesians 4:11, where Paul lists different positions of leadership based upon different gifts and callings: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. There is a basic idea here that a leadership team should be diverse AND unified, as they work together to advance the church’s mission to make disciples.
Teams are meant to be a rich experience in the church, friends who show one another respect. Unity will happen when groups and teams develop a camaraderie through friendship and respect.
A new definition of healthy growth–”when everyone on the gathered team is different and no one wants to go home.” Now that’s a group of people everyone wants to be a part of.
This blog comes from reflections on Scripture and excerpts from Larry Osborne’s bookSticky Teams. I’m writing to prospective and current planters, pastor teams, deacons and staff teams, volunteers who lead people, and those in leadership at Mission Church (www.missionchurchsa.org).