My senior pastor often talks about the word “encourage” and how it contains the word “courage.”
The word comes from Old French, “to make strong.”
Have you noticed that ministry takes courage?
- Walking with a family as they grieve the loss of a loved one—that takes courage.
- Sharing the message of the cross with people who are far from God—that takes courage.
- Confronting each other’s sinful behavior—that takes courage.
- Asking the people of your church to serve and give—that takes courage.
- Sharing constructive feedback with church employees—that takes courage.
- Pouring out your heart from the stage as you teach or lead worship—that takes courage.
- Staying humble and vulnerable to keep your heart alive to God—that takes courage.
Ministry requires an extraordinary amount of courage, from you and also from the people you lead.
I recently heard a church leader describe their job as- CEO—Chief Encouraging Officer.
I think this is a good way to describe one of the roles of leadership in a church.
Whether you’re the senior pastor, an associate pastor or a leader of volunteers, you must encourage or perhaps re-courage your people on a regular basis so that they have what they need to continue leading and serving others with courage.
So, how do you keep the people you lead encouraged? I think you have to continually and creatively answer three questions they are asking.
Do You See Me?
People feel encouraged when they know that their leaders see their effort.
When the people you lead are working hard on fall ministry launch or Christmas services, they want to know that leadership sees what they are doing.
They don’t necessarily want public recognition or a spot bonus, but feeling like you are pouring yourself out for the ministry without being noticed is discouraging.
So, if you want to encourage or re-courage your people, simple “thank you for your hard work” conversations go a long way in letting people know that you see them.
Some CEOs spend a considerable amount of time writing thank you cards to their staff members.
This might be another excellent way for you to encourage your people.
Do You Hear Me?
People also feel encouraged when they feel heard by leadership. It’s easy to tell when a group of volunteers or staff feel discouraged when you hear comments like,
“No one asked me.”
“I wish I could have given input.”
“No one tells me anything around here.”
Or, when you hear a lot of “THEY” comments.
“This is what THEY want.”
These are the words of discouraged people who feel like no one is listening to them.
The job of the leader is to listen to the people under their care.
This doesn’t mean you have to do everything they suggest or change everything they complain about.
Most people understand that they can’t be part of the decision-making team.
However, they do need leaders to hear their perspectives and concerns and listen when they have more accurate information.
One of the most effective ways to encourage or re-courage the people under your care is to seek their input on key decisions before the decision is made.
Another way that I attempt to listen well is to pursue, “What’s it like to be you?” conversations with the people I lead regularly.
Do You Know Me?
Recently, I had a short conversation with one of our staff members who I rarely interact with.
She told me a short story about a challenge her family was experiencing.
A week later I asked her how the situation was going and then heard from her supervisor how much my question had surprised and meant to her.
This was a great reminder for me.
People want to be known.
When leaders remember your name, your situation, what you do, the names of your kids, it feels encouraging because it feels like there’s a relationship.
One of the best ways to encourage your is to invest in relationships.
Spend time with them.
Take them out to lunch.
Schedule time in your week to walk around and engage people in conversation.
It’s not a waste of time.
It helps the people you lead to believe that you know them, and that’s a big part of being a Chief Encouraging Officer.
Ministry is tough.
It takes courage.
It’s our job as leaders to equip our people for ministry through encouragement.
Thanks for reading. We’d love to hear your ideas about encouraging your staff. As always, please share your ideas and questions below.