The values of an organization are the traits and beliefs that make it what it is. At Mercy Hill the values for our staff team are communicated in tensions because any value in isolation can be destructive. For example, independence is a good thing unless you are so independent that you can’t work on a team. Every value then needs a counterpart and every staff member needs to hold the tension.
Tension 3: Self-starting and Team Oriented
Working at Mercy Hill requires being a self-starter. We define a self-starter as someone who has an internal drive to do an excellent job. The driving factor is something internal not external. In other words, a self-starter rarely if ever must be pushed to work more or try harder. Rather, self-starters are routinely reined in by those around them. Self-starters desire to do things the right way whether anyone knows it or not. Self-starters want to make good things great even if no one notices. Self-starters always do more than the minimum. I thought our Executive Pastor summed this up well when he said, “Self-starters never get on Facebook before their day’s work is finished!” No one really tells them not to do that, they just don’t.
The problem, however, is that self-starters can easily have a hard time in a team environment. In an organization like Mercy Hill, not being able to function in a team is totally prohibitive to production. While I am sure this is true in any organization, growth makes it evident. When our church was young, an “army of one” mentality was ok and, at times, even beneficial. But growing makes the “army of one” concept totally undoable because there is too much work and too much complexity. We recognized this early on which is one of the reasons everything at Mercy Hill is done in a team. Ministry is done in teams. Major decisions for the church’s direction are made in teams. Even the sermon goes through a team planning phase before it is ever delivered. So being a self-starter must be balanced with the ability to function in a team. Remember: any singular trait can be constructive or destructive. Which way it goes depends on the other traits it is set against. For self-starters, being a team player is the counterbalance.
Let me close with two thoughts. First, we can recognize team oriented self-starters by checking on different spheres they are currently operating in. We often ask, “Can this person play well in the sandbox with others?” Sometimes the best way to figure that out is by looking at the sandboxes they are currently playing in. In their current work environment, they may be extremely driven, but are they required to work in a team? Do they have a pattern of only working in jobs where teamwork isn’t necessary? Another quick tell is a person’s commitment to the teamwork aspect of any leadership role in the church. We often make a mistake by looking to the good results of being a self-starter while neglecting signs of an inability to work in teams. For example, someone can be a great community group leader, but do they disregard coaching meetings? Someone can be a great team leader in a first impressions ministry, but do they communicate well with other team leaders over different areas? Often recognizing a self-starter is easy because their group is full or their team is filled. But that only looks at success from the top of the leadership pipeline down. It is equally important to look both sideways and up. Secondly, over the last ten years I have come to a conclusion regarding this tension: People can’t really be coached on being a self-starter, but they can sometimes be coached on being team oriented. Now, that isn’t truth in the way Bible is truth! As I said, this is just taken from my experience. Everyone will fall somewhere on the scale of being more self-starting or more team oriented. For us, I would rather have a self-starter who is open to being coached on teamwork than the other way around.
-Andrew Hopper (Lead Pastor)
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