Strong teams that function well are both mature and unified. (Pixabay)

Teams lead stronger when they lead together.

That's more difficult than it sounds.

Leading stronger means your leadership,influence and team effectiveness have increased, and therefore, you realize greater results.

Strong teams that function well are both mature and unified.

Unity and maturity can elude even the best of teams because people view and value both of these elements differently. Essentially, that means they define unity and maturity differently.

For example, let's take unity. Two similar churches in the same city might view and value teamwork differently. One team might place a higher value on freedom. That sounds good. They would say, "Be creative, think out of the box, do your thing, go for it and just make it happen the best way you can." The other team might place a higher value on collaboration. That sounds good too. They would say, "Let's work together, tap into creative synergy for the best ideas to make the greatest progress possible."

Neither approach is right or wrong, but you can't mix the two and lead strong.

My purpose in this post is not to give practical steps that tell you specifically what to do. My aim is to offer practical principles to help you get there by your own design, meaning practices that work in your church.

The principles comprise a three-point sequence to help you define, evaluate where you are and begin to move forward toward a stronger team. None of us ever arrive, but we can all get stronger.

A three-point sequence to help your teams lead together and stronger.

  1. The only way to lead together is to lead in the same direction.
  2. The only way to lead in the same direction is to be unified.
  3. The only way to remain unified is to live in spiritual and emotional maturity.

Let's break each one down just a little.

1. The only way to lead together is to lead in the same direction.

It's the nature of leaders to want to go their own way, but that's how organizations can get stuck and remain smaller than their fullest potential.

That independence is not a bad thing; it's part of what makes someone a leader. Every leader has their own ideas, passions and ways to get something accomplished. However, unbridled independence is a problem. It's like a wild stallion, powerful and beautiful to look at, but alone, its primary purpose is to run solo in the wild. That's cool, but that's it.

Interdependence is more powerful and beautiful. But you can't run any direction you choose and remain interdependent. You have to run together and in the same direction. Like the stallion, we all resist the process of being broken, but the bridle is what helps us pull together. We run stronger, longer and farther together.

Are you leading in the same direction?

2. The only way to lead in the same direction is to be unified.

The logical thing is to talk about mission and vision. But I'd like to assume that your team is unified on your vision. That will allow us to get more practical.

For example, at your church, you may have differing opinions on how to best do small groups. So, what system is best? What approach works best? Who decides? What is the best way to train leaders? These differences are nearly guaranteed in every church.

At some point, you should choose one method. Essentially you are choosing unity. If you don't choose unity, you have chosen division. If you have division, you are going nowhere fast.

Not everyone will get what they want. You might not get your preference, but you get a shot at changing more lives by increasing the number of people in your groups. Until you choose to run in the same direction together, sold out and all in, you'll never be unified. There is enormous power in unity.

Are you unified?

3. The only way to remain unified is to live in spiritual and emotional maturity.

One of my favorite passages that brings this all to life is found in Philippians 2:1-8.

In a recent post PK (Pastor Kevin Myers at 12Stone church) shared this three-point definition of spiritual maturity, and we've been working on this focused approach:

  • Spiritual Intimacy: Your heart-experience with God.
  • Biblical Knowledge: The truth embraced in your mind from the Word of God.
  • Holy Obedience: Your will, that is, what you do, surrendering to the will and ways of God.

The only way to rise above our human nature is to lean into our new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and allow the Spirit of God to help us mature.

This maturity makes it possible to let go of titles, where we sit on the org chart, who gets more than someone else so we can focus on the goal.

None of this is easy.

If it were, we'd all be doing it consistently.

But we can all do it if we set our minds and hearts to it, one day at a time. And I'm convinced that this results in a stronger and more efficient team.

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY.

This article originally appeared at danreiland.com.

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