The Power of Communication
This morning I walked into staff prayer, and true confession time, I didn’t want to be there.
I knew it was expected that I showed up, I even knew it would be beneficial yet, still my “to-do list” was looming at the forefront of my brain. We had started these meetings so we could be more unified as a staff and remember that we all have a common vision. Yet, even armed with his knowledge I was thinking about how to make up the hour I would “lose” in the rest of my day. I mean I had noble things to accomplish for the sake of the Gospel. As we bowed our heads a co-worker prayed, “We come before you because we love you.” Right after that another staff member prayed, “I am sorry Lord, I came today because I was told to. Thank you for reminding me I am here because we love you.” Another one of our pastors prayed for each person on staff by name and their spouses and by the end I was in a puddle. As we shared our hearts together before the Lord we continued putting each other, our community, our congregation, and everything in between at Christ’s feet where it belongs. Later in the morning I got to have a touch base with my supervisor which also helped me on a practical level with all that I need to get done, keeping me on track, and reminding me that sometimes it’s good to bounce ideas off of someone else.
I confess that I can get so busy doing great things for God that I can become isolated. My myopic focus can cause me to forget I am not out in the trenches of ministry alone, I am on a team. The excitement of “back to school” has faded and we are still a few steps away from Christmas. However, busyness creeps in with Fall retreats. festivals, outreaches, Thanksgiving, service projects and of course advent is a half a step away. Before we know it our team is all over the map doing great things separately. This morning at prayer I was reminded the power of a unified front, both as a full staff and as a youth team.
So what can we do to stay focused? I was struck this morning at how we would feel less alone if we could be better at communication:
I think one of the other biggest reasons we disconnect and start running in different directions is lack of communication. Remember that communication is not what you say, it’s what others hear. A flaw I have in leadership is to focus more on what I need my team to know, than on how they are receiving the information. I move fast and furious and expect everyone to keep up. I make declarations and just expect everyone to fall into line. Let’s not merely share information at each other. Let’s make sure we are clearly communicating what being on the same page looks like.
The problem is not that the people don’t know the vision, the trouble is we can forget to share how to get there together. Map out the plan, and then the expectations for how the plan will come together. If we are forgetting to communicate how we need everyone involved, and the role they play, we can start coming unhinged as a team. Never be afraid of too many details, remember each person needs different amounts of information.
Invite Others To Communicate:
Communication is not just about bombing each other with information. It’s also about allowing conversation. Allow the team to ask questions and give suggestions on how plans can be adjusted. Don’t be offended when the team didn’t hear you well, never be afraid to slow down and ensure that indeed you are all in this together.
Make sure that you are using a communication method your team will see. I like to use email and texting. Texting is for the last minute quick stuff and a weekly emails help everyone to have more details. By keeping consistent methods your team knows what to look for. Hold them accountable to knowing the info and keeping these lines of communication open.
Communicate With the Lord:
Even if it’s 15 minutes before program, or five minutes after prayer is powerful. Yes, yes you know, but as I was reminded today there are few things that remind you of your unity like coming to God together. There is something about the truth of who really is the King of Kings that settles a disgruntled heart. Make time to pray about your ministry, for students and for each other. We need to remember people are more important than any program.
This morning I am thankful we got together to pray and then that I got to have that meeting as well. I remembered to keep going forward together, sometimes we have to slow down and communicate with God and with each other.
Want more on communication in youth ministry? Check out The Skinny on Communication by Jeff White and Jeffrey Wallace from Simply Youth Ministry.