3 Ways to Level ↑ Your Teamwork

Have you ever struggled with group participation or felt more productive working independently?

Perhaps you’re a team player at heart, but feel taxed, even lost, when collaborating in a joint setting.

If so, I want to encourage you: a) you’re not alone and b) dare to rethink what you know about teamwork.

For while corporate success often hinges on team dynamic (i.e. how a group behaves and performs in pursuing a particular goal), such cooperation is only possible when each member knows the purpose and direction of their role.

Thus, in the next few posts, I want to discuss how we, as students and employees, can build teamwork through better team dynamic starting with these three points…

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1) Clarify Expectations

It’s been said group morale is a fragile art – a sacred science based on strength integration, maintaining transparency, and trust management.

Yet, of all the bonds that bind, arguably none is more cohesive to team dynamic than clarifying expectations.

To quote Ron Edmondson…

to feel a part of the team, people need to know where the team is going and what their role is. An understanding of the overall goals and objectives fuels energy. When the big picture objective is understood each team member is more willing to pull together to accomplish the mission because they know the ‘why’ and can better understand where they fit on the team.”

In other words, to achieve positive outcomes, each role must be clearly defined in a way direction, unity, and purpose are mutually inclusive. Of course, none of this can happen without accountability, authenticity, and strategy/tactics (as we’ll later discuss); however, as long as expectations are effectively communicated top-to-bottom, the foundation to success is, at least, secured.

Bottom line: The more people perceive core value and expectations1 through vision, the more team dynamic will strengthen.

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2) Don’t Just Direct People, Develop Them

As mentioned in my ‘effective influencer’ post, strong teams form when people are valued over goals and success is celebrated corporately as well as individually.

Unfortunately, not all work cultures are created equal where motivation is shared, let alone contagious. The question is…

How do we inspire unity among our teams regardless of setting, situation, or position?

For starters, we must be willing to connect role to direction and expectation to vision. In my case, having worked in various financial and ministerial arenas, I’ve found the best unity occurs in environments where each member understands their role and how it directly impacts the success of the organization.

Granted, easier said than done for the sanitation engineer and mail deliverer; still, if strong team dynamics are applied, even these employees can be directed to know the company’s core values2 and developed to take ownership of their responsibility.

Ultimately, if team members are empowered to see their skin in the game, camaraderie will flourish in the sense each person is directed, developed, and driven to see his/her work as more than a means to an end.

Bottom line: Intentional leaders not only give their team intentional purpose, but help their teams understand mission while embracing vision.

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3) Get Out of the Office

A great ministry leader once said…

Don’t get so busy doing the work of the Lord that you don’t spend time with the Lord of the work.”

Interestingly, while this truth pertains to spiritual intimacy, the same concept can be applied in collaboration and networking. After all, if project management and people management are best undivided, then the quality of our communication should extend beyond performance into its surrounding context.

For example, as a former LAMPO spouse, sports editor, and youth pastor, no question, the best “silo-busting” moments occurred during retreats, corporate team-building activities, and family outings. In each scenario, not only were tensions lessened, but a sense of esprit de corps developed carrying over into seasons of challenge and discomfort.

Moreover, to the extent creativity and oasis conversations abounded, to that extent priorities were pruned in the wake of internal and external inventory. Ultimately, as awareness within community increased, so did morale and enthusiasm by proxy.

Bottom line: 1) Teamwork is just as much attitude as it is practice. 2) If you want better teamwork, know the context of your team’s performance given team dynamic is influenced just as much outside work as at work.

Selah.

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Looking ahead, I want to talk about how we, as spouses and household heads, can abide by the same teaming principles outside our careers and inside our homes.

In the meantime, be at peace as you better people to better your teams to better your business.

As always, Lys & I are rooting for you.

Here’s to the journey…

~ Cameron

Footnotes

  1. Even compensation
  2. Tip: consider creating a team charter)

Cover photo creds: Australian Institute of Business

4 Truths For When You Feel Purposeless

Have you ever wondered what to do when you feel like you’re not making a difference? When you’re striving to find meaning on the conveyor belt of life?

Perhaps you’ve questioned whether or not your life’s present lines up with your purpose…if you’re on the right path with the right people.

If you have, then congratulations! You’re absolutely, positively human.

Granted, such questions contain universal relevance; however, it’s still important to know how to answer them when they surface.

‘Cause truth is: The bivocational life can feel like is a jungle…with doubt, a quicksand of the mind. But with the Word in hand along with the proper tools, even the toughest terrain can be ‘macheted’ through1.

So ultimately, this lesson is as much preparation as it is exploration.

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of my day job.

How I’m wired, what fuels me, what I’m aiming for…couldn’t be further from my current occupational residency.

Not to mention, I work in an environment where I’m like a modern David running away from a bunch of Saul’s with spears in their hands1.

You talk about not feeling like you make a difference. Let’s just say I’m there.

However…this doesn’t mean my place at my job is a mistake (as I’ll later address next month).

Rather, it simply means I’ve bought into the following truths…

1) God has a flawless purpose for everyone…

Scriptures: Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28, Proverbs 16:9, Isaiah 58:11 

2) Some seasons are supposed to be ridiculously challenging

Scriptures: Psalm 66:10, Zechariah 13:9, Romans 9:21, Isaiah 64:8

3) Being stretched beyond bandwidth is best seen as a compliment from God…

Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 10:13, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Hebrews 12:6, James 1:2-4, Romans 5:1-5

4) Our identity isn’t rooted in what we do.

Scriptures: John 1:12, Ephesians 1:5, Genesis 1:27, Jeremiah 1:5, 1 Peter 2:9

Thus, we don’t have to accept the chains our circumstances offer us. We don’t have to live in trepidation just because of someone’s sick prejudice. And we don’t have to waste our breath grilling God for mispositioning us when we can anchor our trust in the fact He always knows what He’s doing.

Why? ‘Cause trust is not dependent on having the answers; it’s dependent on believing the one Who does.

And I’m telling you, friends…when you remove entitlement from the equation3, there’s no doubt in my mind you will see differently.

So be encouraged to embrace God’s sovereignty and marinate in His faithfulness.

lzimmerman03‘Cause when you do, you’ll not only defeat deceptive feelings of purposelessness, but you’ll also discover the ways you can make a difference and leave a legacy even in the deserts and wildernesses of life. Furthermore, you’ll cultivate greater steadfastness in the face of temptation, especially the desire to prematurely quit4.

So if you’re strugglin’ today feeling worthless, stuck in the mud or frozen at a crossroads in zero visibility…faint not (Galatians 6:9), resist vain comparisons (Galatians 5:26)…and know the indescribable has made you indescribably.

Stay tuned next time when we’ll tackle our second question: How do you cope with the fears of rejection and mediocrity?

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Footnotes

1) We can’t control the setting we’re in, but we can control how we ready ourselves and respond in the wake of discouragement

2) Nothing like people conspiring against you to test the depth of your character

3) When you abandon the “right” to understand the way you see fit

4) For all you bivocationals out there…this is arguably the greatest lesson we can learn outside the two greatest commandments

Photo credits: ignant.de & finemind.com

Why We Need Vulnerability in Bivocational Ministry

Have you ever wondered what to do when you feel stuck and misunderstood at the same time?

I know I have.

In fact, it’s hard to remember a week when I haven’t thought about this at least once.

After all, when we talk about persevering through our purpose, no doubt, the topic holds perpetual relevance.

But for the bivocational who feel their life is like the Truman Show & Groundhog’s Day had a baby, sometimes truisms aren’t enough.

Not to sound blasphemous or anything. I just know for people like me, it helps when I’m able to  voice the struggles that come with the territory…and partner with people in troubleshooting their quandaries.

Thus, if any of you can relate…let’s just say you’ve come to the right place.

Bible_and_mouse_9605814_ml_1_RGBBefore His Girl Fryday launched, Lyssah and I did some research on bivocational issues and noted plenty of materials concerning the benefits of “bivocational ministry”; however, when it came to the challenges, we noticed a startling lack of content.

So in the days following, we asked ourselves some hard-hitting questions…

…like what makes the “cost of bivocational ministry” a taboo topic

…and why do some avoid confronting the truth when it seems to lack appeal?

After taking time to drill down, we realized:

The #1 thing bivocational ministers crave above all else is encouragement; hence, why so much content caters to this particular need.

However…

Bivocational ministers in hope of inspiration often stiff-arm opportunities capable of better equipping them for adversity.

Granted, it’s completely human to want edification; however, as bivocational ambassadors, we must realize we’re not called to manufacture floatation devices when storms come. ‘Cause truth is, if we want to walk in true freedom, we must get real about our struggles as opposed to tuning them out*.

And hear me…I get how easy it can be to rely on personal strength and distractions when we sense hopelessness knocking on our door.

Yet, it’s at that point we must embrace what we were ultimately designed for (i.e. accountability, intimacy, endurance, community, etc) to see and live the whole truth as God intended.

So while I’m all about encouragement and inspiration, I’m also aware we must be fearless in addressing the deep, dark closet spaces of our hearts.

Thus, in the coming weeks, we’re going to “de-taboo” some of life’s most complex questions…like…

  • What do you do when you feel like you’re not making a difference?
  • How do you respond when your authorities persecute you?
  • How do you cope with the fears of rejection and mediocrity?
  • What do you do when you feel old rejections are holding you back?
  • What do you do when you’re in the right place, but can’t connect relationally?
  • What do you do when you doubt God’s plan…and all you want to do is give up?

Of course, these questions only represent the tip of the iceberg.

Yet, as we tackle these issues, it’s my hope we not only discover the beauty in being bivocational but also the power that comes when we embrace the cost.

So in closing, I encourage you to ask yourself: Are you willing to let go of anything not God for the sake of trusting Him every step of the way?

In the meantime, stay tuned for a new post next week when we address our first question: What do you do when you feel like you’re not making a difference?

Fighting the good fight,

~ Cameron

Footnotes

*Trust me…I’ve tried self-medicating many different ways. It never works.

Photo credits: revivingthesoul.com & synergyforministry.org

Staying the Course – The Importance of Not Quitting: Part 2

We’ve all been there.

Life in a lifeless cubical world. Surviving the 9-5 vocational jungle. Juggling a bunch of disjointed dreams against the backdrop of reality.

Perhaps you know what it feels like to be a fish in an aquatic Pandora’s Box

…like you don’t belong no matter how hard you try, no matter how hard the effort.

untitledNo question, it’s in these moments when we’re most tempted to quit…when we’re most likely throw in the towel and walk away.

But as I mentioned in last year’s post, there’s value in not giving up, there’s honor in putting down the white flag in favor of the warpath…and there’s hope in maintaining a posture of perseverance, no matter how hard the challenge.

True, it can be arduous making ends meet and bridging relational divides amidst an unfulfilling environment; it can be difficult loving¹ people in a vacuum where nothing around you seems to give you that much desired sense of accomplishment and worth.

But truth is, at some point or another, we’ve all questioned our place, especially during [what seems like] a fruitless season, where nothing seems to be effective or bear influence.

Yet, I contend we don’t often help our cause at theses points of impasse.

Why? Because of the human tendency to put calling before purpose.

You see, our purpose is simple: to be heaven on earth

…by choosing to love as Jesus loves…

…and to be an extension of hope through proclaiming the good news².

However, our calling is a bit more complex.

While our purpose boils down to modeling God’s love, our calling is how we model God’s love – an evolving expression, designed to influence different people at different seasons in our lives.

Thus, if our purpose is truly predestined (see 2 Timothy 1:8-9), then it should be clear how a) purpose proceeds calling and b) staying aligned to God’s will with a grateful heart is dependent on being completely satisfied in our purpose, regardless if we understand our calling (or how it should manifest in a given season).

In my case, when I applied this truth, it didn’t take long before my dayjob frustrations started making more sense. I had lost sight of my purpose within my assigned role, instead, fearing I was wasting my calling in a passionless, uninspiring position.

Yet, when I recognized my pride, flipped it through repentance, and returned my focus to loving people where they were at, my whole perspective changed.

No longer did I perceive my situation through an entitled lens…or doubt the handy plan of God on my life. No longer did I shrink in timidity or defeatism based on the incurrence of condescending labels.

Contrarily, I began to understand, in greater measure, how a) our callings aren’t meant to always align with what we think they should (i.e. our innate wirings, our creative passions, giftings, etc.) and b) the disconnect between where we are and where we hope to be doesn’t necessarily mean we’re in the wrong place.

In fact, I submit this wedge is something we all must taste at some point if we’re to truly appreciate and rely on the faithfulness of God.

‘Cause whether we feel relationally abandoned or hopelessly lost in an occupational wasteland, it doesn’t negate the fact God is always up to something. For He knows exactly what we need, when we need it…and will always stay faithful to develop the fine qualities He’s established/establishing in us (Romans 1:20)…even if our workplace environment doesn’t [seem to] value these things.

As for me, the only way I could rightfully deal with my workplace dissatisfaction was by embracing a holy satisfaction in my divinely appointed purpose: to do Father’s work His way…and to allow His Kingdom to reflect in and through my life (Matthew 6:33; John 5:19).

And I’m telling you…it wasn’t long after surrendering my aspirations in this way that I began to feel fulfilled within God’s placement again.³

So in closing, I encourage you, brothers and sisters, to not see your worth through what you do or value your calling ahead of your purpose. Rather, allow yourselves to be fully content on what God has purposed you to do, all the while, being faithful to pray into your calling…regardless if the heartstrings of passion are being presently plucked.

‘Cause at the end of the day, you’ll find when the two are in alignment, you’ll be primed for refinement.

And that, my friends, is a beautiful place to be.

Footnotes

1) Granted, love should never be circumstantial anyway

2) In addition to being disciple-makers

3) Sometimes, a return to basics with a slight twist of perspective is all we need to adjust the way God wants us to.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Photo from motivationgrid.com & mosstotalfitness.com