Ed. note: Last week we published Part 1 of this challenging series and next week we'll do Part 3. I broke it into parts because each one of these has enough challenges to keep us busy examining ourselves and praying for at least a week--though honestly for continuing peace in the church office, we need to review this advice often.
Step back and see yourself as others do. Recognize and correct actions that might be an irritation to those who share your space. Others may not tell you about these annoyances, but they will notice and appreciate when you become aware of them yourself and are courteous enough to implement change.
• when necessary, say no
It is true. Ministry assistants love to say yes. You love to serve. But, and this is an important but, it is not wise to believe you must unquestioningly accept every task.
Although one’s motive may be pure, perpetually saying yes is actually not the best way to work well with others. One drawback is that, besides not being honest, committing to more than you can reasonably accomplish nearly always results in others forming unrealistic expectations. And in you forming resentments.
Far better than burying yourself is learning how and when to say no. Trust others to be mature enough to accept that everyone has limitations, you included.
• let others shine
You do many things well. You may rightly believe it is easier to do a task yourself than to leave it to someone else. Still, one sure way to work well with others is to give them the opportunity to use their expertise and skills—or simply to try something new.
Be a cheerleader for others, encourage them, mentor them, show appreciation for their efforts. Genuinely.
• own your mistakes
No one gets it right all the time. Although you aim for excellence in all you do, now and then something is bound to go wrong. A poor decision, neglected detail, miscalculation—whatever the mistake, if it is yours, acknowledge it.
It is not necessary to fall on a sword. Simply apologize, do what you can to set the matter straight, make at least a mental note not to repeat this particular error, and move on.
• walk the talk
People appreciate working with those who are authentic, those who practice what they preach. “I once worked with a pastor who claimed to have great respect for his staff, but who was consistently late for meetings and seldom listened to our opinions. It became difficult for some of us to accept his sincerity about any number of things. This affected our ability to work well with him and with each other.”
• be willing to learn
Nearly everyone is an expert at something. Everyone you work with knows something you don’t know. Even while you are establishing your own credentials in the group you can tap into the expertise of others.
Respecting the knowledge of others and being willing to learn from them are vital elements in the skill of working well with others. Title or position has nothing to do with it. Pastors can learn from assistants as well as assistants can learn from pastors.
• give the benefit of the doubt
Petty squabbles and imagined slights make it difficult, if not impossible, to work at our best. Ann thinks the youth minister disrespected her by not recognizing her role in a project; Betty is sure Ann missed a deadline because she wasted time on personal matters. Both are operating on assumptions that may or may not have a basis in fact. And, even if the assumptions are true, really—so what?
To go to Part 1, CLICK HERE