By Timothy C. Mitchell
- Our Resource- People
We are in the people business. Everything we do will be done for people and by people. The more we know about people—their likes and dislikes, what motivates them, their goals, why are they here—the better we can relate to and efficiently manage people. Since they are the tools by which we will get the job done, it behooves us to invest a lot of time in this area.
People are made in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27). Remember these attributes when dealing with people.
Believe in the uprightness, the desire to do right, of your fellow workers.
Humans walk in the upright position, not on all fours like animals. “God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Sometimes it is hard to find the good, but look for it. It is usually hiding behind the carnality of us all.
There is unlimited potential in every individual.
Listen to what God confessed in Genesis 11:6, “This they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”
We will work hard for praise and pleasure.
“For thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). We were born to bring pleasure to God. What a job He had getting us into a position so we could please Him! “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2). We will endure and do the seemingly impossible even against our will if we can see the joyful result!
Every person will live eternally in a place dictated by their life’s works.
“And man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Always remember when working with people that if one makes a mistake with them, it could be eternal. Handle with prayer!
On and on the list could go. The final conclusion of the matter is, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself’ (Matthew 22:39). Mankind was created by God in His own image. In dealing with people, invariably we are dealing with the essence of God.
- Motivating Others
The best way to motivate others is to be an example. In order for others to follow us we must first show them how to do it. Fear is going into the unknown. People feel uncomfortable when asked to do something they have never done before. For example, if you ask someone to go into a dark room, they are reluctant. If you go in ahead of them and turn on the light, their fears vanish. Our main job as leaders then, is to build confidence in our subordinates by giving them an example to emulate.
Joshua, a type of Jesus, was an excellent model of leadership in the Bible. Let’s learn a few lessons from his example.
When the children of Israel were about to cross the river Jordan and enter into the Promised Land, Joshua instructed the people to follow the leaders as they followed God into new territory.
“And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host; and they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way herefore” (Joshua 3:2-4)
Another lesson given was the respectful distance between the ministry and laity. This relationship must be maintained so that over-familiarity does not occur.
The passage of Jordan was completed and perfectly executed because of clear direction following the example set by the priests.
“And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground until all the people were passed clean over Jordan” (Joshua 3:17).
There are two things to notice here. First, everyone was secure in their position (firm, dry ground) because they obeyed the instructions given to them. Secondly, it was a “clean” job. The Hebrew definition of that word means to accomplish perfectly and completely.
At the end of his life, Joshua again recommitted the people to his ideals. First, he gave them a choice of who they wanted to serve. (People should always be given the freedom to do what they wish.) Next, he told them his choice and encouraged them to follow the example he set.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day who ye will serve; whether the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
Jesus as our Shepherd has given us an example to follow. He is not a goat-herder. A shepherd leads by going in front and giving an example for his sheep to follow. A goat-hearder gets behind and tries to drive his flock to where he wants them to go. The difference between sheep and goats is that if you try to lead goats they will always “but” you with questions such as, “But why do we have to do this?” A wise leader will learn that when one is always saying “but this” and “but that”, this is usually a goat that cannot be led. We know how to live a Christian, godly life because “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Peter 2:21). When we have doubt as to what to do in any given situation, we can turn to our Lord. “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done.” (St. John 13:15). As He has provided an example for his followers, so should we be willing to be a model for others to emulate under our leadership.
Paul gave some sage advice to a young leader in the making He wrote, “The husbandman must be first partaker of the fruits” (II Timothy 2:6). A leader must be the first to do it. He cannot just get up and tell everybody to do it but he must first illustrate how it is done. There are some who desire to be leaders but they are like the Pharisees, “…for they say and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” (Matthew 23:3-4). We need to be careful that we do not have the attitude of “Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them” (III John 1:9). The Greek etymology of the word preeminence according to Strong’s Concordance is “to be fond of being first”. This man’s concept of leadership was warped. He liked being first because of power, prestige and pride. A leader must necessarily be first, but he must not allow that position to be used to his personal advantage.
Peter wrote to the elders “Feed the flock of God which is among you, using the oversight thereof not be constraint but willingly, not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (I Peter 5:2-3).
- Power Tools
There are things we can say and do that will bring faster and more efficient results when working with people. The difference in using these methods is like using a power drill in place of a screwdriver. With a little practice, one can train himself to be very skillful in these areas.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
- Praise: Everyone likes to be recognized when he does a good job. So why do we not just do it? We forget. We take people for granted. We do not realize how important it is to them and us. A kind word, a pat on the back, and taking the time to publicly recognize people will work wonders on those we need to help us achieve the goal. By the way, thanks for continuing in this Leadership Seminar thus far!
- Correction: Believe it or not, people really do want someone to tell them when they make an error! There is an inner compass called our conscience that condemns us and discourages our forward progress when we violate it. We, like Adam and Eve in the garden try to hide our mistakes. Yet when finally found out and held accountable, we feel relieved that someone took notice. Here is the hard part. WE must be careful not to wound the spirit (desire) while breaking the will. Proverbs 18:14 says, “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Also, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city” (Proverbs 18:19). How do we effectively correct someone? First, do it in private. Look the person straight in the eye and specifically tell them what they did wrong. Let them know that it is their actions that you are unhappy with, not them. Discuss with them how to correct their mistake if they do not quickly and do not dwell on the error. Re-establish a positive self-image and re-assure your leader of your confidence in them.
- Encouragement: The difference between praise and encouragement is when you do it. You praise someone after they have completed a job. You encourage someone while they are doing the job. In the middle of any worthwhile endeavor, one arrives at the point of discouragement where the question is asked, “Should I continue or should I quit?” Much time and a lot of effort has been invested. Now it is time to make a decision to determine whether one should invest any more into this project. This is where leadership provides critical support. If one fails to lend encouragement, the project dies. If we will step in with a kind word of faith, the fire of enthusiasm can be rekindled. Let us never be guilty of allowing a worthwhile endeavor to die because of a lack of encouragement!
“They helped everyone his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with a hammer him that smote the anvil, saying, It is ready for the sodering: and he fastened it with nails, that it should not be moved” (Isaiah 41:6-7)
- Enthusiasm: Here is the fuse that lights the fire that ends in an explosion! Enthusiasm means to be inspired. The original Greek root of this word actually means “to be possessed by God”. This is the winner’s edge; that little bit of something extra; a special Divine enablement. If a leader will get excited about what he is doing, his contagious attitude will cause others to want to jump on the success bandwagon.
Someone said, “With all thy getting, get enthused!” That is very true. There is no better advertisement than an enthused salesman who has tried it, likes it, and wants the world to know about it! Yes, you are the fuse that lights the fire that ends in an explosion! Let us not be a dud.
- Building Bridges: Interpersonal Relationships
“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves” (I Thessalonians 5:12-13).
The strength of any organization is the cohesion of the people network involved. We need to know our leaders and they need to know us. This is a two-way street. There must be a concerted effort by both to build a relationship between leaders and workers. How do we do this? Here are a few suggestions.
- Spend time together. Remember those courtship days? It seemed like there was never enough time! Well, I do not mean you have to be that close, but at least you get the point. Visit your co-worker’s home for a starter. That will let you know where he is coming from (in more than one way). Plan some time together, like a banquet or a planning session at a state park. Even a time of recreation just for members of your particular group will make them feel like they have “exclusive status’ with the organization. During these times you will learn the personal needs of each person. These needs such as the need for friendship, the need for involvement, or the need to be successful are important and must be met. Each person has a special contribution to make according to the God-given gift within them. When you find that talent—something they can do and enjoy doing it because they know they do it well—you have found the magic button of motivation!
- Love people. We let them know this by doing a few simple things. Remember their special days: birthday, spiritual birthday, anniversary, etc. When trouble or God forbid, death should pay them a visit, be there for them. People are especially sensitive and very vulnerable at this time. To be insensitive or forget during a special time such as a hospital confinement, birth of a child, or perhaps the passing of a parent can snap the tie that binds. People need a lot of loving and when they don’t get it, they usually leave without saying why. Conversely, if a person knows he/she is loved, there is small chance of them going elsewhere.
“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).
- Listen to people. People have a great need to be heard. Incidentally, you will learn a lot more by listening than talking. People will like you more if you will listen to their opinion because it lets them know you have judged them worthy of thought.
“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:28).
People have ides. People provide different viewing angels to a given situation. People provide a kaleidoscope of choices. When you choose their idea, they really take interest, possession, and sometimes the lead and the load.
“Where no counsel is, the people fail: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14)
“Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22).
Sometimes we have trouble listening to people. Just remember, God spoke to Balaam through his donkey when he would not listen to God Himself (Numbers 22). God sometimes has to use what is available, even if it is what we consider a dumb beast or someone beneath our dignity! How often has a parent been given clear insight or maybe even unintentional advice from their own child!
At other times through careful coaching, you can get people to present your idea and think it is their own. This is really mastering a listening achievement!
It all goes back to listening. If you will listen to people, then they will listen to you and in the same proportion.
Spend time with people. Love people. Listen to people. What will all this accomplish? It will do what money, force, or lecturing can not necessarily do. Because when you do these things, you are letting people know that they are important to you, not just an object to be used. Since our help is mostly voluntary, we must use the highest ideals to motivate people.
SUGGESTED ADDITIONAL READING:
- The One Minute Manager – Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
- Top Performance- Zig Ziglar
- Bringing Out the Best in People – Alan Loy McGinnis
This chapter “Managing People” written by Timothy C. Mitchell was excerpted from Lay Leadership Training for the Local Church and may be used for study and research purposes only.