Leaders Choose Their Own Teams

“Leadership comes with many pressures and countless responsibilities. But one of the great privileges is choosing who serves on our teams, whether that be a ministry team at church, or a leadership team in our business or school. Certainly, we look to God to lead us to the right people, but He allows us to partner with Him in this decision. I was advised early on by one of my mentors not to choose a person if their skill exceeded their character. In other words, character is crucial - faithful, available, and teachable. Jesus was very deliberate about building His core team.

Some of my greatest joys and greatest sorrows have come from my team-building experiences. If you work with people (especially closely on a team), you will learn and grow, or you will fail. There is no middle ground.

A leadership team can fulfill a functional role of getting tasks or projects accomplished, but it can also be much more than that. Some teams build deeper relationships - transparency and trust are the ingredients that can take a group beyond its ordinary expression.

What sort of selection criteria should you follow in selecting your team? There are ’10 Cs’ I have followed through the years that have served me well…”

To see the ’10 Cs’ Team Selection Guidelines click here to find ‘Leading Like Jesus’ on Amazon Kindle

The Principle of Leadership Connection

   "A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink". 


The lady described in this story from John 4 is unknown to us. We don't know her name. We only know that she was of a snubbed gender and a despised race. Yet Jesus connected with her. As we read the entire story, something remarkable transpires between Jesus and this unknown woman. Through Jesus interaction with the woman at the well we learn about the value of "connection", what some people call emotional intelligence. 

People don't connect well to frowning, intense, defensive leaders. A leader can only lead to the degree they can emotionally connect with people. A leader who is "out of touch" with how they come across to people, who lacks what is called "EQ", emotional intelligence, is limited in their effectiveness.

What is the biblical basis of the leadership principle of “connection”? We see it at work in how Jesus related to a broad spectrum of people. He connected to ordinary fisherman, tax collectors, religious officials, Roman officers, women caught in adultery, Mary and Martha when they blamed Jesus for the death of Lazarus, and his own very diverse team of apostles.

In the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well, we see the principles of "connection" in action. We see in Jesus the ultimate example of emotional intelligence. Jesus reached over the walls of gender separation, racial prejudice, immoral behavior, theological difference, and initial personal rejection. Jesus did not rely on policies or religious practices to relate to her. He connected to her through wise and discerning personal interaction.

Jesus is our example in each of the following qualities of leadership connection. He connected with the woman at the well in order to minister to her. He was not being deceitful or manipulative; he was wise and patient, reaching out to her across the very real divide that separated them. Wise leaders today will learn to do the same.

Five components of leadership "connection" we can see in Jesus interaction with the woman at the well:

• Self-awareness. Jesus was fully aware of who he was and what he had to offer. He offered “living water”. He demonstrated the ability to recognize and understand his own drives and emotions and how they affect other people. Self-awareness involves self-confidence, realistic self-awareness, and a self-deprecating sense of humor. Can you picture a warm and wry smile on Jesus’ face as he tells this woman to go and call her “husband” and come back to him, knowing full well she had five husbands? Leaders with self-awareness are aware of their own moods but don’t allow those moods to disrupt relationships or control their attitudes or actions. 

• Self-regulation. Jesus had the ability to recognize and control his impulses. It says in John 4:4 says, “Jesus had to pass through Samaria”. It was the impulse of the Spirit that led him to pass through Samaria. Normally, Jews avoided Samaria. Jesus knew the difference between an impulse of the Spirit and an impulse of the flesh. Leaders with high levels of emotional intelligence don’t allow their moods to disrupt their speech or actions, but rather they allow the Spirit to lead them. Self-aware and self-controlled leaders are not prisoners of their own personalities. Self-regulated leaders have the ability to suspend judgment before acting or speaking. This includes openness to change and comfort with ambiguity. As uncomfortable as it can be, it includes welcoming responses to constructive criticism and assessment of our leadership effectiveness. 

• Self-motivation. Self-motivated leaders are not dependent on church structures or other leaders to motivate them. Like Jesus, they are passionate about ministry and work for it's own value. They are filled with the Spirit and call daily upon the Spirit’s help to recharge and re-energize them. Jesus demonstrated self-initiative and the ability to pursue ministry goals he set for himself with great energy and persistence (he was not in competition with others – see John 4:1-3). Self-motivated leaders feed themselves spiritually from the Word and with prayer. They have to – they are pioneers. They cannot be dependent on others to prop them up or get them going each day.

• Healthy empathy. Jesus understood the emotional makeup of people. He was a student of human nature. He was highly empathetic with the woman at the well without losing objectivity. Emotionally intelligent people show empathy but they are not governed by it. Jesus demonstrated the ability to understand the emotional makeup of the woman at the well. He had compassion on her, but he didn’t allow that to keep him from confronting her sin and holding her responsible for her actions and choices. He acted responsibly to the woman, but he did not take responsibility for the woman. Healthy empathy is the skill of adjusting one’s responses according to people’s emotional reactions. If they over react, we don’t. If they leave us, we don’t attack them. If they rebel, we bless them. We respond in the opposite spirit. Healthy empathy involves the ability to attract and retain talented people in our endeavors, and to reach across cultural walls and barriers to build our teams and churches.

• Social-skill. Jesus demonstrated a unique ability to find common ground with people. He had not committed adultery. He was not a Samaritan. Yet he reached out to the Samaritan woman with grace. Social-skill is the ability to hear and not react to people with differing views or opinions. Leaders with social skill are proficient at building and maintaining networks of relationships beyond a cadre of close friends with similar backgrounds. Just as Jesus found common ground with the woman at the well by talking about water and asking for a drink, so leaders with social-skill have the ability to find common ground and build rapport with those they lead and work with. This skill includes efficiency in leading change, persuasiveness, and efficiency in building and leading teams. Those with social skill don’t lead with policies or procedures but with vision and biblical values.

From these five components flow such qualities as emotional warmth, listening attentively, smiling, encouragement and affirmation, genuine interest, faith in people, non-defensiveness, openness to new ideas and non-reactiveness. These are the qualities that enable a bridge of understanding and trust to be built from leaders to those they lead. It’s the leadership principle of connection at work. 

Why is the leadership principle of connection so important? You can't lead people you can't connect to. The five components of connection, when genuine, allow us to build a bridge of trust and understanding to people. That is the heart of “emotional intelligence”.

Great “connectors” have mentored me in my life. One of the greatest were the co-founders of Youth with a Mission, Loren and Darlene Cunningham. Again and again I was struck by how Loren and Darlene connected with people. In big crowds or small, they would focus on one individual at a time, smile warmly, ask them questions, hear their vision, and then challenge and encourage them to do something great for God. Loren and Darlene were both connectors.

When people felt led to leave YWAM, they blessed them. When young leaders came up with new and sometimes crazy visions for ministry, they listened with an open heart. Those strengths allowed Loren Darlene to build one of the largest missionary movements in the history of the church. It is no accident that YWAM is made up of leaders that are both young and old, men and women, and people of all cultures.

That is connecting at it’s best! I rarely saw Loren or Darlene react to people when they were disappointed in a decision a person made. They were masters at team building and retaining their teams. They showed great empathy no matter the situation. They both demonstrated exceptional emotional intelligence.

Loren and Darlene planted the seeds of greatness and great achievement in the hearts of many young leaders by challenging them to go beyond what they had dreamed or thought of doing before that time...then they would give them an opportunity to do what they encouraged them to dream about. Even if it didn’t fit in with how they thought it should be done.

Great connectors are great opportunity providers! When people working with Loren and Darlene sought other avenues of Christian service, they didn't react or condemn them... they cheered them on in their dreams. They didn’t demand or manipulate people to join them, but inspired them with vision by "connecting" to their dreams. Many leaders today in business, government, church denominations, missionary organizations, and local churches can point to their experience in Youth With a Mission as life changing. Loren and Darlene set a DNA of connection that has built bridges to people in all walks of life.

I have reflected many times on the leadership skill of connection. I have assessed my own strengths and weaknesses in this regard, and asked others to help me do that. Why? I don’t want to close doors to those God wants me to lead. I want to grow in my skills as a connector to people.

I have concluded that “EQ” is not another worldly management fad, but a learned ability to connect wisely. It is a God-given ability that we can develop to serve God’s people effectively.













Ten C’s of Leadership Team Building



One of the privileges of leadership is choosing your own leadership team. In principle, you should not work with people on your team you did not choose. Though we must be open to accept those God sends us, and though others may expect us to “inherit” team members by virtue of the fact that they were there before us, in the end, a pastor or movement leader should carefully choose their own team.

You have the final say in who joins your leadership team, and you should exercise that God given responsibility with care, courage and wisdom.

We all want to work with great people. But how do we go about selecting a leadership team? Far too many of us accept the first person that is eager to join us, without taking time to probe deeper. Don’t let desperation for help drive your team building!

Effective team leaders define the key roles they need to be filled on their team, but more importantly, they have a clearly thought through set of qualifications in mind for team members.

Courtesy – Does the prospective team member know how to respect other team members? Can they listen, learn and adjust their convictions? Do they have emotional intelligence (healthy self-awareness, self-control, self-initiative, social skills, healthy empathy)? Are they collaborative in their approach to decision making?

Chemistry – Do they have good chemistry with the team leader and other team members? Are they likeable and can have a good time with those they work with?

Competence – Do they have the skills necessary to add strength to the team? If they don’t, are they willing to learn the skills needed? Do they demonstrate the communication skills necessary to carry out their assignments?

Character – Are they a servant? Do they show integrity? Are they reliable and do they keep their word? Team members have to be responsible and show initiative.

Core Values – Are they aligned in their core values with the rest of the team and the church/organization/movement? Have they demonstrated their core values by the fruit of the life?

Courage – Are they willing to take risks? Are they a person of faith who is willing to take on new challenges, should they be called for? Are they creative and innovative?

Capacity – Do they have the emotional capacity for the responsibility? Can they handle stress and pressure? Can they handle the load of added work that serving on a team requires?

Culture – Do they work well with people of other cultures? Are they sensitive and adaptive to different cultural contexts?

Calling/Commitment – What are their spiritual gifts and do they complement the team? Do they have a call from God to serve in this regard? Does this role match their leadership gifts? Do they demonstrate commitment to the vision of the church/organization/movement? 

• Clear Expectations – Have you discussed your expectations and theirs? Do they understand the role of the team and are they clear about what is expected of them in terms of time, resources, and responsibilities?


A Fresh Perspective on Team Building

12 C's of Teambuildingby Ajay Matharu - www.ajaymatharu.com

Clear Expectations: Has executive leadership clearly communicated its expectations for the team’s performance and expected outcomes? Do team members understand why the team was created? Is the organization demonstrating constancy of purpose in supporting the team with resources of people, time and money? Does the work of the team receive sufficient emphasis as a priority in terms of the time, discussion, attention and interest directed its way by executive leaders?

Context: Do team members understand why they are participating on the team? Do they understand how the strategy of using teams will help the organization attain its communicated business goals? Can team members define their team’s importance to the accomplishment of corporate goals? Does the team understand where its work fits in the total context of the organization’s goals, principles, vision and values?

Commitment: Do team members want to participate on the team? Do team members feel the team mission is important? Are members committed to accomplishing the team mission and expected outcomes? Do team members perceive their service as valuable to the organization and to their own careers? Do team members anticipate recognition for their contributions? Do team members expect their skills to grow and develop on the team? Are team members excited and challenged by the team opportunity?

Competence: Does the team feel that it has the appropriate people participating? (As an example, in a process improvement, is each step of the process represented on the team?) Does the team feel that its members have the knowledge, skill and capability to address the issues for which the team was formed? If not, does the team have access to the help it needs? Does the team feel it has the resources, strategies and support needed to accomplish its mission?

Charter: Has the team taken its assigned area of responsibility and designed its own mission, vision and strategies to accomplish the mission. Has the team defined and communicated its goals; its anticipated outcomes and contributions; its timelines; and how it will measure both the outcomes of its work and the process the team followed to accomplish their task? Does the leadership team or other coordinating group support what the team has designed?

Control: Does the team have enough freedom and empowerment to feel the ownership necessary to accomplish its charter? At the same time, do team members clearly understand their boundaries? How far may members go in pursuit of solutions? Are limitations (i.e. monetary and time resources) defined at the beginning of the project before the team experiences barriers and rework?

Is the team’s reporting relationship and accountability understood by all members of the organization? Has the organization defined the team’s authority? To make recommendations? To implement its plan? Is there a defined review process so both the team and the organization are consistently aligned in direction and purpose? Do team members hold each other accountable for project timelines, commitments and results? Does the organization have a plan to increase opportunities for self-management among organization members?

Collaboration: Does the team understand team and group process? Do members understand the stages of group development? Are team members working together effectively interpersonally? Do all team members understand the roles and responsibilities of team members? team leaders? team recorders? Can the team approach problem solving, process improvement, goal setting and measurement jointly? Do team members cooperate to accomplish the team charter? Has the team established group norms or rules of conduct in areas such as conflict resolution, consensus decision making and meeting management? Is the team using an appropriate strategy to accomplish its action plan?

Communication: Are team members clear about the priority of their tasks? Is there an established method for the teams to give feedback and receive honest performance feedback? Does the organization provide important business information regularly? Do the teams understand the complete context for their existence? Do team members communicate clearly and honestly with each other? Do team members bring diverse opinions to the table? Are necessary conflicts raised and addressed?

Creative Innovation: Is the organization really interested in change? Does it value creative thinking, unique solutions, and new ideas? Does it reward people who take reasonable risks to make improvements? Or does it reward the people who fit in and maintain the status quo? Does it provide the training, education, access to books and films, and field trips necessary to stimulate new thinking?

Consequences: Do team members feel responsible and accountable for team achievements? Are rewards and recognition supplied when teams are successful? Is reasonable risk respected and encouraged in the organization? Do team members fear reprisal? Do team members spend their time finger pointing rather than resolving problems? Is the organization designing reward systems that recognize both team and individual performance? Is the organization planning to share gains and increased profitability with team and individual contributors? Can contributors see their impact on increased organization success?

Coordination: Are teams coordinated by a central leadership team that assists the groups to obtain what they need for success? Have priorities and resource allocation been planned across departments? Do teams understand the concept of the internal customer—the next process, anyone to whom they provide a product or a service? Are cross-functional and multi-department teams common and working together effectively? Is the organization developing a customer-focused process-focused orientation and moving away from traditional departmental thinking?

Cultural Change: Does the organization recognize that the team-based, collaborative, empowering, enabling organizational culture of the future is different than the traditional, hierarchical organization it may currently be? Is the organization planning to or in the process of changing how it rewards, recognizes, appraises, hires, develops, plans with, motivates and manages the people it employs?

Does the organization plan to use failures for learning and support reasonable risk? Does the organization recognize that the more it can change its climate to support teams, the more it will receive in pay back from the work of the teams?



Choosing Your Team

There are a lot of pressures and stresses for senior pastors and ministry team leaders, but one of the compensations is this privilege: you get to choose your team. In principle, you should not work with people on your team that you did not choose. Never violate that principle. 

Though we must be open to the leading of the Spirit to accept those God sends us, and though others may expect us to “inherit” team members by virtue of the fact that they were there before us, or the organization believes they should join us, but in the end, it is your team. You have the final say in who joins you, and you should exercise that God given responsibility with care, courage and wisdom.

When leaders choose team members or consider new hires, they instinctively know to build a great church or organization they need the best team members possible. We all want to work with great people. But how do we go about selecting team members or new staff? Few leaders take the time to define what they are looking for in team members or new staff hires. Far too many of us accept the first person that is eager to join us, without taking time to probe deeper. Don’t let desperation for help drive your team building!

Let me say again, don’t ever accept team members without confidence that God has brought them to you and that you are absolutely sure that they are the right fit. It is far easier to add someone to your staff or team than to fire them or ask them to leave.

Effective team leaders define the key roles they need to be filled on their team, but more importantly, they have a clearly thought through set of qualifications in mind for team members.

Ask yourself these questions when you consider adding a person to your staff or team:

  1. Do they share my DNA? In other words, are you sure they have your values? More important that great skills or good education is a team member who has your DNA, who shares your values, and grasps and loves the vision of where your team is going.
  2. Do I have good chemistry with them? It took some bad experiences and some personality clashes for me to realize that God gives me freedom to choose who is a good fit for me on my team. This was not the case in the early years of emerging leadership when God was using other people to test me and shape my character, but in my convergence years, I learned that the ground rules change, and God actually wants me to choose people I enjoy working with. Chemistry counts!
  3. Are they a person of trustworthy character? It is better to train a teachable person with integrity, than contend with a person who is unteachable, unfaithful, and unreliable.
  4. Do they have the skills necessary to do the job? Can they get the results you want and others expect? There are some tasks that require better than average performance; a high level of excellence is a must for some roles. There are some projects that should not be launched unless you are absolutely sure a person can get the job done.
  5. Are they courageous? Rather have a team member who takes risks, than one who is cagey and tries to figure out what will “please the boss”. Better to coach a teachable risk-taking person than create dependency on you. Team members who are fearful of making decisions rob your church/organization of passion and zeal. If you have created clear boundaries via clearly communicated values and vision, then empower your team members to get on with the job within that framework.
  6. Will they contribute to the culture we are creating? I ask myself if new team members are high maintenance type people, or are they initiative takers? Do they grasp what we are trying to build, and do they see it a privilege to be part of our core team? Are they “adders” or “subtractors” to our culture?
  7. Lastly, are they humble, honest, hungry and smart? For this part of the list, I can do no better than refer you to Michael Hyatt’s excellent blog,

“What should you look for in the people you hire?” at http://michaelhyatt.com/what-should-you-look-for-in-the-people-you-hire.html


Trial and error is a good way to live if you like gambling, but it is not the best way to build a great team. One mentor told me, "Floyd, the first time you make a big mistake, it's free, but after that, God will lift his grace from you and let you suffer the consequences of bad decisions".

Though not an absolute, there is great wisdom in my mentor's advise. Learn quickly or suffer. And I might add, learn from the mistakes and wisdom of others, so you won't suffer.

The seven questions above are a road map to follow. As Michael Hyatt says, "It's hard to find a treasure if you don't have a map". Use these question as a map for choosing your team, and you will find the treasures God has stored up for you in the people he has for you. Great team members are a great treasure!

"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter".

Proverbs 25:2


Tested by Defiance

1 Samuel 17:24-25

Our enemies will defy us, and sometimes our friends will, too! Goliath defied the army of Israel – out of a proud and evil spirit. 1 Samuel 17:25 says, “So the men of Israel said, ‘Have you seen the man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel...’ ”

Defiance can be defined as everything from outright insubordination to passive lack of cooperation, from boldness in the face of evil to insolence toward servant leaders. The fruit doesn’t always indicate the root. There can be different causes for the same kind of behavior.

A wise leader discerns what type of defiance they are up against when people resist their leadership. There are emotional processes at work between people that can cause people to react to one another, like ice bergs colliding in the sea – the biggest issue is often what is unseen in the area of emotions and sensitive areas of ego and identity.

Sooner or later, you will meet a person who will defy you, or you may feel you must defy a person. The temptation is see defiance only as sinful rebellion, and not see more deeply what causes the rebellion, or what role we might play in provoking a person to rebellion and defiance. Most importantly, a discerning leader prayerfully discerns how God wants them to respond to the someone they see as defiant. Below are ten examples of ‘defiant’ behavior in the Scriptures, and ten different motivations for people’s defiance to leadership.

Ten kinds of defiance:

1. The Goliath defiance – deceived, evil defiance

2. The John Mark defiance – youthful, homesick defiance

3. The David defiance – sexual compromise defiance

4. The Absalom/Micah defiance – wounded child defiance

5. The Saul defiance – insecure leader defiance

6. The Jonathan defiance – wise leader defiance

7. The Bethsheba defiance – discerning spouse defiance

8. The Barnabas defiance – “stand up to a pushy leader” kind of defiance

9. The Apostles defiance – resisting ungodly leadership defiance

10. The Sloth’s defiance – the defiance of a lazy man