In my last post (which you can find here) I defined values as those beliefs or traits that make the organization what it is. Values are not goals. Goals answer the question, what do we want to do? Values answer the question, who are we? Now admittedly there is some overlap here because each of us will be stronger or weaker in different values. If the organization has a value that a particular member struggles in, that value functions more like a goal. But as a whole, the values I will lay out in this series are collectively true of our staff team now. For these values to stay true of us, they must be vital for our hiring and evaluation processes. But that is another post! Over about the last six months we have circled that big question, who are we? And what we landed on was this idea of “staff tensions.”
What Is a Staff Tension?
A staff tension is the right balance between two good but competing values. A value is only good when it is held in the right proportion. Even good things must be balanced. How many examples of this could be named? It is good to eat protein, but not if that is all you eat. It is good to work, but not if all you do is work. It is good to relax, but not if all you do is relax. Everything we do in life is only healthy if we find the right balance between that thing and its counterpart. This principle is transferable when it comes to values.
I’ll finish by giving 3 common examples to illustrate my point. I am sure most lists of values will include something about drive. Drive is a good thing. Drive cannot really be replaced by anything else. Drive will keep you looking for answers when everyone else already decided the problem can’t be solved. But what if a person’s drive had no boundaries? An endless drive may keep you from sleeping or interacting with your family. Drive for ministry or success may keep you from minding your health. If there is no counterpart, drive is no longer a good thing. The same is true with a commitment to excellence. A commitment to excellence is a great thing. It leads us to stay sharp and make sure the systems of the church are in order. But what if our commitment to excellence is totally unchecked? Then we will become self-reliant and forget God. So many stories of eventual burn out begin with a good desire to be excellent. Finally, consider flexibility. At Mercy Hill, one of our most prominent values is flexibility. We need people who have the ability to make mid-course corrections when needed. But again, what if flexibility was absolute? What if there was nothing rigid about the church at all? If that were the case, we would lose our theology and mission in no time.
Any value by itself can be disastrous. Every single value needs a counterpart. It is important for us to maintain the tension. We must work to stay in that healthy place which is not too close and not too far away from any particular value. In the next two posts I will describe the 6 staff tensions of Mercy Hill.
-Andrew Hopper (Lead Pastor)