Thursday, May 22, 2008

Team Loyalty

We always look for loyal people as the ones who will be selected for ministry positions at PCC. Whether that be an usher, small group leader, paid staff member, teacher, greeter, housekeeping, money counter, coffee server, or bulletin stuffer, we look for loyalty! Our church cannot grow and fulfill its mission if our team members are not loyal to the vision, our church leaders, and to each other. Disunity is the fruit of disloyalty and we nip it in the bud as soon as it is discovered.

We do not allow our vision (from God) to get hijacked – by anyone. If we are not diligent about protecting the vision, we would wake up one day and not even recognize the ministry we have allowed to be created (by another). You can’t lead by taking a vote on every issue. You can’t lead by entertaining every idea that surfaces. Being a leader means making decisions and then taking responsibility for them whether they succeed or fail.

What is loyalty? Loyalty means faithfulness or devotion to a person or to a cause. Using Biblical language, it means faithfulness.
What does a loyal staff member look like? A loyal staff member is a person who will stand up for the vision of our church or will stand up for me (or any other staff member) when someone is slamming the vision, criticizing the leaders, or sowing discord among the brethren. They will take the arrows, absorb the heat, and are willing to be criticized for the sake of others.

When I see someone who does not talk out of both sides of their mouth, who says the same thing out in the open as they say behind a closed door, then I know I’m looking at a loyal person.

On the other hand, when someone talks about another, their church, or their church leaders in a critical behind-the-back manner, I have just identified a disloyal person. Let me be clear, that is an action that will not get you the answer you are looking for.

When I go to the dentist, I am free to ask any questions that I would like to ask. I am free to express an opinion if I choose to do so. But at some point I have to be willing to TRUST the dentist to do his work on my teeth. He is the trained expert. He knows more about it than I do. He has years of accumulated experience. If I don’t like his work I am always free to find another dentist. Likewise in a church, at the end of the day, I have to trust my leaders. And if I do, even though I don’t always understand, I will be faithful and loyal. I will not smear them.

When I find loyal people, we empower them, authorize them, and whenever possible, HIRE them!

Nothing energizes me more than when I walk into a room that is full of people that I know are loyal to me and to each other. This is empowering, energizing, edifying, and uplifting. It fuels creativity and innovation. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (PROVERBS 27:17).

Sometimes new people will show up at PCC having come from another church who have a chip on their shoulder. When I talk to them they start slandering their last church and its pastor, believing they can ingratiate themselves to me by this malicious talk. After I bluntly cut them off I run for the hills because I know that if they will talk about their former leaders behind their back, they will eventually do so about me. Talk bad or viciously about someone and let me hear about it, and I can assure you that person will NEVER be in any position at PCC.

Let me give you a for-instance: After we had moved into our new building and had been here about three months, it came to my attention that one of our door greeters was bad-mouthing our church to our guests! Yes, you read it right – TO OUR GUESTS! This was a person who had been through our membership class, understood our mission, vision, statements, strategy, and structure. This person had signed our membership covenant. They were selected to serve in a ministry position at the front doors - and rather than protecting our church was actually DOGGING the church. This was DISLOYALTY in the first-degree! One of our first-time guests brought it to my attention. That door-greeter DOES NOT serve here any longer. No discussion.

Loyal people do not have a hidden agenda. They don’t have an agenda of their own. They’re on the team by virtue of being loyal to an agenda OTHER THAN THEMSELVES. They are faithful.

Fortunately for us disloyalty has only been a minuscule issue at PCC – partly because we deal with it so decisively when first detected and because we have such a positive and upbeat environment here. And in the few times we’ve had to make the painful decision about releasing a disloyal person, we’ve witnessed GOD PROSPER US and MOVE US FORWARD. Happens every time.

The upside of loyalty and trust is that it BUILDS a DEEP VISION. Churches get deep when there is unity. A God-honoring, Christ-exalting mission and vision being carried out by loving, cooperative, and loyal people is the kind of behavior that gets beneath the surface. Shallow people squabble about minor issues.

Another benefit is WE CAN GET THINGS ACCOMPLISHED because we are not having to spend our time and emotional energy putting out brush fires all the time.

Another advantage of loyalty is we build TEAMS of people who possess a “CAN DO” attitude. When faced with a challenge or problems associated with a new initiative, “can do people” rise to the occasion and overcome.

Loyalty MAXIMIZES TIME and INCREASES PRODUCTIVITY. Think of the time wasted doing damage control because of some disloyal person. Life is too short for that. With a loyal team, if we decide to add a second service or go to three services, WE ARE OFF AND RUNNING without a bunch of junk to deal with. We don’t have to waste valuable time trying to get people “on board” before we launch. We can plan an initative and then simply pull the trigger.

Loyalty GIVES ME PEACE OF MIND. I can sleep at night.

Loyalty BUILDS FRIENDSHIP – we actually like each other.

Loyalty is a WITNESS to the world.

I leave you with Jesus’ prayer in St. John 17:20 (NIV)

20"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them MAY BE ONE, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they MAY BE ONE as we are one: