“You can tell a person with a true servant’s heart by the way he responds when he is treated like a servant.”
This was a quote I heard during our Sunday sermon this week and it really resonated with me. Our church has been going through a series on Division (you can listen to it here) and this was the last week of the topic. It hit home and I wanted to share some principles here as it pertains to children’s ministry.
As with every ministry – or any area of life when you have to deal with people – conflicts and “issues” arise. Lately, I’ve had a number of “issues” crop up in our ministry, some way bigger than others, and some blown out of proportion by others! This is the case with pretty much anything, though, and is to be expected. The question, though, is how do we as leaders respond when conflict – “issues” – arise?
- We need to remember who we are. We may be the “leaders”, but as such, we are still servants – and not even upper class servants. The Apostle Paul’s usage of the term “servant” in 1 Corinthians 4 refers to one who is the under-rower of a ship – literally the lowest of the low for servants. Even as “leaders,” we must keep in mind that we are, above all else, servants of others. If I can view myself as my volunteers’ servant as opposed to their authority, I will relate to them – and the issue – differently. Perspective. It’s important.
- We need to remember Who ultimately has the final say. One thing I enjoy about working in a church is that when issues arise that seem bigger than me and I’m not sure what to do with them, I can go right to Scripture and find the real answer. I don’t need to know everything, but I need to be in touch with the One Who does. I need to refer my volunteers back to Scripture as the final authority on controversial topics. God gets the final say on a matter, not me. It’s not my opinion that I’m touting – it’s God’s Word.
- We need to remember that we are to be examples. We are servants. We are not better than anyone else. We are to be an example. One of the main sessions in the teacher training material I use talks about being Models – we need to “be” who we want them to “become.” Are we modeling out what we want our staff and our students to be? How do we act when no one is around? What do post on Facebook or talk about with our friends? Are we gossips? Crude? Rude? Vulgar? Or do we show forth the light of Christ in every area of our lives and live lives of integrity?
- We need to remember to be gentle. Oh, the unfortunate frequency with which others are approached through harsh, insensitive words! Just last week, I was pulled aside so someone could merely “share” something with me and it threw off my whole night. There was nothing I could do about the situation in the moment (the timing was horrid to hear this news) and the news was given so tactlessly, I had to inwardly cringe, sigh, and give it back to God with a shrug of the shoulders and an, “Okay, God, this is bigger me. Handle it for me, will You?” When we, as leadership, need to ever approach anyone on any issue, gentleness and respect need to be at the forefront. Even if the topic is controversial, difficult to handle, with no easy solution in sight, and even when bluntness seems to be the best way to “get the job done” — we are still dealing with people. People who are not less than us, people who are not below us, and people with feelings and emotions the same as us. Those that are insecure in their leadership skills tend to come across as imposing their way and flaunting their authority. If you are secure in your leadership role, your goal should be evident: to bring out the best in others. Seek unity at all costs.
I hate dealing with “issues” and confrontation is so far from my list of things that I enjoy doing that I will shake and cry for hours (literally) before I handle anything. I probably apologize too often and take the blame more than I should. But, I hate disunity. To see my team divided is like seeing my family divided and I refuse to stand for it.
As much as it depends on me, I will live in harmony with my team and seek to bring unity to the team. Will you?