If you’ve dealt with people at all, it’s not an earth-shattering revelation to recognize that people are different. We all come from different backgrounds, upbringings and value systems. And as your relationships begin to expand beyond your own culture, those differences can seem magnified.
In the local church, Jesus called us to reach people very different from ourselves. The beautiful (and challenging) thing is that we’re called to do it with people who are very different from each other. When we begin to understand that our unity comes from Christ who saved us and commissioned us, then we can start to embrace our differences and leverage them the way God intends for us to.
There are at least four primary differences among the people found in every church. In this post, we will look at two of those. As leaders—by God’s grace and in the power of His Spirit—here are some ways to bring those differences together to accomplish your mission.
Let’s face it—life’s not fair. As a leader, your goal is not to try and make it fair. Some people in your church or organization will work harder than others. You can either work yourself into a frenzy trying to get everyone to “share the load”, or you can invest in those who are willing. The former is futile, but the latter will actually get things done. But a word of caution is in order here. Some people who seem like they’re hardly doing anything can actually be doing more to accomplish your mission than you can imagine. Just because a person is limited physically or otherwise, doesn’t mean they aren’t significantly contributing through prayer or other behind-the-scenes efforts. God doesn’t call us to do our fair share. He calls us to do what we can do—however seemingly big or small—with all our might.
Different commitment levels
It would be nice if everyone was as committed to the mission as you are. The reality is, some people will always be more sold-out than others. There are at least two ways to handle this. The first seems to be the default reaction of many leaders—guilt/cajole/harass the non-committed. If you think that will work, then by all means, go right ahead. But you will never guilt/cajole/harass anyone into a higher level of commitment. You will only drive yourself and everyone around you into frustration—or worst case, you will drive them away. As a leader, the best way you can build commitment is to build excitement. Excitement and enthusiasm is contagious. It isn’t taught—it’s caught. When people not only clearly understand the mission, but begin to actually see the vision, they will begin to get as excited as you are. Some won’t. But most will. The ones who won’t will marginalize themselves while the ones who do will accomplish great things. As a leader, fuel the fired-up and quit trying to light wet wood.
In the next post, we will look at two more differences we can build together to accomplish the mission God has given us.