What is the best team you’ve ever been a part of?

We are in the middle of a hiring process at our church right now.  This is an important question to ask if you value team ministry and want your next hire to be a good fit.  

Good teams work together toward a common goal.  They understand what the mission is and they will give all they can of their time, talents and energy to help the team to succeed.  

If, however, a team member is too focused on their own agenda, only doing what they need to get by, or leaving a trail of interpersonal destruction behind them as they go about their work, the team will feel the negative impact.  Trust will be difficult to build and momentum hard to sustain.  

The team will spend far too much time holding back or cleaning up messes and not enough time focused on the work God is calling them to do.

The mission of the church is too important for our staff teams to not be as healthy as they can be.

In his best-selling book, The Ideal Team Player,business author Patrick Lencioni identifies three virtues as being at the core of his own organization’s team and critical to his work helping businesses and churches to become healthy.

Ideal team players, Lencioni says, have three virtues in common:  They are Humble, Hungry and Smart.

Think about those three words for a moment.  

Do they describe you?  Your ministry team?  Your church?

HUMBLE

When ministry leaders are humble, they define success collectively, not individually.  They are confident, neither arrogant nor self-deprecating, not afraid to honestly acknowledge the skills and talents that they bring to the team, and willing to share those gifts in any way that will help the team and advance the mission.  They are quick to give credit to others on the team for their contributions.  

Humble leaders are able to be vulnerable and to build trust.  They can hold others accountable and engage in honest conflict because it’s not about them, it’s about the team.

“Humility,” Lencioni says, “is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player.”

HUNGRY

Ministry leaders who are hungry are self-motivated and diligent.  They are constantly thinking about next steps and opportunities, always looking for new ways to contribute to the team.  They are tireless in their desire for more – more to do, more to learn, more responsibility – and they will go above and beyond to accomplish the church’s mission and to help the team succeed.

SMART

Being a smart ministry leader has less to do with degrees and IQ than it does with emotional intelligence.  Smart leaders are wise in how they deal with people.  They have good judgment and intuition. They understand the subtleties of group dynamics and how their words and actions impact others.

The power of these three simple words, Lencioni says, is the required combination of all three of them.  

If you’re humble and hungry but not smart, you’re likely to hurt people along the way.

If you’re humble and smart, but not hungry, you’ll frustrate your team members who are working hard.

If you’re hungry and smart, but not humble, you’re the skillful politician, willing to work hard, but often for your own benefit.

Developing Your Ideal Team Players

Many folks on your team probably have a fair level of health in all three of these areas.  But, if we’re honest, we’re probably not equally strong in all three.  We all have a growing edge, a place where we’re holding back or where we’ve got work to do.

A self-assessment is available to help with self-evaluation relative to the three virtues of an ideal team player.  For each virtue there are six statements.  You are invited to use a rating scale to indicate how each statement applies to how you think your teammates may see you and your actions on the team.  The statements themselves give helpful ideas on how we might practice these virtues more fully.

What would happen if everyone on your team was willing to be honest about the virtue that is the weakest of the three for them?  And not just identify it, but be willing to work on it for the good of the team.  

However you go about it, whether you C.A.R.E.more for each other on your team or whether you focus on becoming Humble, Hungry and Smart, be intentional about developing a healthy staff team culture.  Ministry is hard.  Ministry teams shouldn’t have to be.

Jayne Davis
Jayne Davis has served as the Minister of Spiritual Formation at First Baptist Church, Wilmington, NC since 2001. Prior to going into ministry, she was the Executive Director of a non-profit organization and worked as a strategic planning consultant for early childhood initiatives. Jayne is a certified coach, working with both individuals and churches, and is a part of the CBFNC coaching network. She is also a partner in Hopeful Imagination, a ministry encouraging and supporting churches as they seek God’s direction in a changing world. She is a coach and a consultant for CHC and the co-coordinator for CHC-Carolinas.