(Note: This is the fifth article in a series on the topic Building Trust to Stop Conflict Before It Starts.)
The easiest way to manage destructive conflict? Prevent it whenever possible! Sharing power and authority with others tends to reduce mistrust and is not only helpful but also scriptural.
Jesus shared power: “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority…” (Luke 9:1 NIV)
One of the real challenges in sharing power lies in the reality that we must trust and believe in people in order to share our power with them. However, while there may be some people who don’t deserve our trust, there are many who do.
Consider Paul’s instruction to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2)
In my view, advanced relationship skills includes empowering others. Those who master it excel in leadership; those who fail here severely limit their own effectiveness.
Yet, the techniques of sharing power with others in your congregation can be simple. Here are seven examples:
Keep people in the loop. People feel more involved, engaged, and part of the process when they are informed.
Share the credit. When things go right be sure to share the credit with select persons or with the entire congregation as appropriate.
Delegate tasks with others who are willing to take them on. This shows that you trust them.
Affirm others. Specifics mean more than generalities here. “I notice that you went out of your way to greet and welcome new visitors today. Welcoming other is so important for our church to grow and I certainly can’t get around to everyone. Thank You.” Is better than “good job”.
Encourage sharing of ideas. Inviting others to share, listening and responding to them means greater involvement, more straightforward sharing of concerns, and less negative views going underground to fester later.
Support and encourage the expression of member’s unique gifts and ministries.
Challenge others to try new things, dig deeper, and to reach toward their potential.
When leaders share power and influence, their followers feel important, valued, believed in, needed, and trusted.
They tend to reflect that trust back to their leader.
Do you tend to share power or hoard it? Consider the techniques listed above and focus on one of them this week. Practiced consistently over time, it could result in happier followers and greater success in leading your congregation!