Building a Functional Team
When selecting team members, their character is more important than gifting and skills. More important than having gifting and skills is that team members must have the right character to be on a team. They must have the right heart and godly motives.
Alan Vincent, my spiritual father, always used David’s formation of a team of mighty men as an example. David had over thirty men that he called his mighty men. They were all capable leaders who could have been leading elsewhere but chose to follow David because they believed in David and his vision.
In 1 Chronicles 12:17 David went out to meet them, and said to them, “If you come peacefully to me to help me, my heart shall be united with you; but if to betray me to my adversaries, since there is no wrong in my hands, may the God of our fathers look on it and decide.” (NASB)
From this we can form three questions that are useful in assessing the character and motivations of team members.
- First, “Have you come peacefully?” In English, peace usually means absence of conflict but in ancient languages, it was used in the context of relationships. The Greek word for peace, “Irene”, was used to speak of a mended relationship which was formerly hostile. It was used as a medical term for a bone that was broken; after it healed, it was said to have “come to peace”. Just like a reconciled relationship, A bone is stronger after the break is healed.
David was saying “Will you come with the attitude to strengthen relationships between us? Because if you come to cause turbulence in our relationships, we don’t need you even if you are gifted”.
- The second question is, “Have you come to help me?” Are you here to become part of our team in order to get our job done or are you only here for your own reasons. Do you have your own agenda or are you willing to join with the agenda of the team?
Paul could delegate many things to Timothy because he had the right kind of heart:
“For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.”
A good creed for leadership teams is found in Philippians 2:1-7: “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant . . .” (NASB)
- The third question is “Will you let your heart be joined to mine?” David wanted a relationship with his leaders and for great teams to become friends. Trust enables honesty, openness, and loyalty. In order for a team to be joined at the heart level, there must be a commitment to invest time and a willingness to be vulnerable.
David ends by giving a clear warning: “if you betray me to my enemies, since there is no wrong (violence) in my hands, may God look and bring judgment.” He is basically saying that if a person is saying yes to those three things, he is going to trust that person and give them a place on the team, but if they break that trust and betray him, God will see this. Many organizational problems arise from betrayal and treachery among leaders.