This is the last in a series about ‘loving teamship’ that started with loving your teammates and then loving your team. It is also the flip side of the post Loving Leadership that talked about leaders loving their staff members. It may seem strange to talk about loving the team leader, especially because that love is focused on one person while all the other posts talk about loving an entire class of people or a group, but Jesus commanded us to love one another, so why would the team leader be excluded from those we are to love?
Hebrews 13:17 is a good starting point for this topic. It includes some very practical advice about how you should relate to your leaders, which the biblical author points out is in your own best interest to follow:
“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”
Restated, the key point is “Let your leaders lead because when their work is a joy, yours will be too!” You can have confidence in them and submit to them because they in turn are accountable to someone over them (perhaps a board or an overseer, and always ultimately to God himself).
It is a lot easier to say “Yes, we should love our leaders” than it is to say, “so I should love my leader” because it is easier to love people in abstract than to love a specific human being with specific traits in a specific scenario. Team members should keep in mind that Christian leaders are as fallible as they are. We all do the best we can, earnestly desiring to grow more like Jesus every day. So I understand that it can be hard to love your leader. It can also be hard to love your neighbour, but that doesn’t give us an excuse not to.
The power differential in an employment relationship does present some potential obstacles to loving your leader and these do need to be dealt when they arise. One of these I’ve already posted about and more will come in future posts.
But on the topic of demonstrating love for your leader, here are some basic ideas to start with.
Relations with the team leader
The best way to show love for a leader, aside from what you would do for any other person, is to help the leader lead. There are several specific ways a team member can do this.
- Pray for them Pray that the leader would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, for God’s blessing on their leadership and that you would be helpful to the leader as you work together to accomplish the ministry’s mission. Don’t forget to pray that you too would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit!
- Offer your suggestions. Leaders love suggestions. While leaders should have lots of ideas, they are not the only ones to whom the Lord gives vision and ideas. Suggestions are welcome because:
- it shows that team members are really thinking about the organization and not just their jobs – this indicates they are engaged in the mission
- it reinforces the “we’re in this together” attitude, which really builds team spirit
- it shares the burden of being creative. It’s one thing to do what has already been thought about; it’s quite another thing to think about what hasn’t already been done
- it shows that you are creative, and that is good for your career if you aspire to a leadership role
These ideas all come together in this piece of advice: The best way to love your team leader is to exercise leadership yourself in tune with theirs.