If you were asked to choose between a large organization or a healthy organization, you would be wise to choose the path that leads toward health any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Organizational health may not always make it to the top of our weekly priorities, but it should. Becoming a healthier team has an outsized impact on long-term results as well as the day-to-day experience we have in ministry.
A story in Exodus 18 underscores the importance of embracing sustainable practices for our ongoing personal well-being and the success of the mission. Moses found himself overwhelmed by the demands of leading the newly liberated Hebrews. When Jethro, Moses’s father-in-law, asked what he was doing, Moses said he was doing his job. That’s when Jethro let Moses in on a secret: Find a healthier way to do the work or you’re not going to do anyone any good, least of all yourself. Jethro advised Moses to work collaboratively instead of as an isolated leader.
Collaboration is one of the pathways to a healthier leadership culture. Another important pathway involves identifying a sustainable rhythm. It’s true that some seasons in ministry require herculean efforts. But if we operate at our maximum capacity all the time, then we will see a decrease in the quality of our work over time. As we have learned from pastors in the Clergy Health Initiative, the constant demands of ministry can lead pastors to adopt unhealthy lifestyles that negatively impact their life and leadership.
What steps do you need to take to move your team in a healthier direction? Do you need to build or rebuild trust? Do you need to find ways to learn from failure? Do you need to emphasize spiritual transformation as a foundational expectation? Do you need to radically improve communication protocols? Whatever you do, you can’t go wrong investing time and energy in organizational health.
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Before you go…
Working collaboratively and pacing ourselves are just two ways we can cultivate healthier leadership cultures. Many congregations would benefit from clarifying roles and responsibilities. In organizations that use volunteers for so many key leadership positions, the boundary between “staff” and “volunteers” becomes blurry. Unless we address the confusion about who is responsible for what, unhealthy conflicts will emerge. So as you strive for health, I encourage you to ask good questions so that everyone is clear about how they can best support the team and the mission of the church.
If you want to share what you’re doing to cultivate a healthier culture, you can reach me and the Alban Weekly team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next week, keep leading!
Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity