by Joy Bowen
I’m not talking about the kind that keeps you up at night when you are out camping in the woods with friends and family. I’m talking about the crickets that sometimes virtually chirp in the deafening silence of team meetings. Maybe you’ve heard them too?
Nothing is more uncomfortable, is there?
A question is asked.
No one answers. (Bueler? . . . Bueler?)
The topic dies a quick death and you all move on to the next awkwardly silent moment.
If you are the one leading these meetings, you know how frustrating this feels. If you are a participant of these meetings, you know how you have to muster the will power to endure it. It’s so easy to yield to the temptation of thinking you have assembled the wrong team . . . or maybe you chose the wrong team to join. Maybe it’s been going on so long that you just accept it as reality and don’t really think much of it anymore.
Maybe it’s not silence during meetings but there is underlying tension, deadlines that are never met, no accountability, no buy in or passion. Truth be told, there are many “silent cues” that could very well be the loudest sounding “alarm siren” you could ever experience on a team. And no matter who you want to point the finger at, there are three pointing right back in your direction.
So here’s the good news: You might just be the problem.
What? How is that good news?
It’s GREAT news because if you are a part of the problem, you can be a part of the solution. If your ministry isn’t growing, if there is tension on your team, if you have a general sense of frustration and discontentment perhaps you should ask these questions to determine if you are the problem or obstacle in your ministry’s growth, journey or impact.
Does it seem like no one wants to talk to you?
You know what happens when people are in conflict? They typically stop talking to each other and start talking about each other. If you are feeling the silent treatment from unresolved conflict on your team, just remember it takes two to tango. Perhaps the road back to peace should begin with you extending an olive branch and taking a renewed interest in your team’s success, both personally and professionally.
Is everyone a “yes man”?
Is it possible that everyone around you is telling you what you want to hear and not what you need to hear? No one agrees 100 percent of the time. When there is a clear vision of the mission, there should be healthy debate over how you get there. Perhaps your team doesn’t feel safe to push at ideas?
Do you feel like you need to do it all?
Are you worried that it just won’t get done if you won’t do it? It might be that you are holding things too tightly or micromanaging your team too much. Failure to empower your team to fail forward is a sure way to cap your growth potential. Be a safe place for your team to be stretched and celebrate both success and failure as learning opportunities for the future.
Do you feel threatened by the success of others?
Maybe you are worried that young leader will take your job? (You do realize at some point all younger leaders will take the helm, correct?) If you are feeling resentment over the success of others on your team, perhaps it’s time to have a pulse check on how you are empowering them to stand on your shoulders instead of holding them back.
Are you afraid of change?
Well, afraid might be a dramatic word to use here but many people do fear change. In reality, we all should be extremely frightened about a failure to change. The only thing I know that will overcome a spirit of fear is a spirit of curiosity. Stop the doomsday thinking, and start being curious about what God will do when you hold your ministry with an open hand. Be open to changing whatever needs to change for the sake of those who need to know Christ.
These are hard questions to ask and answer. We are all human and every leader has the potential to slide into any of these self-sabotaging behaviors. The good news is we also have the choice to value personal development. When we work on ourselves, we all have the greater potential to grow as leaders and empower the teams we lead to succeed and our ministries to thrive.
I’d love to know: What questions would you add to this list?