7 Things Your Team Needs to Hear You Say

Beyond communicating strategic direction, imparting vision, and assigning projects, there are more everyday things that your team needs to hear from you. Fair warning: Some of these conversation starters are awkward and require you to be vulnerable with your team.  Hey, no one said leadership would be easy, right?  I challenge you to go ahead and dive in, take the risk and then reap the reward of a stronger, healthier team.

What your team needs to hear from you:

#1:   I was wrong.

This one may sting a bit, but it is so powerful and healing for your team.  If you’ve made a mistake, just own it.  You’re not weakening your leadership authority by admitting to an error.  In fact, your team will respect you more that you owned it and apologized.  Then, ask your team to help you fix the issue.  They’ll dive in to help and will be more willing in the future to admit their own mistakes as a result.

#2:   I need your input.

Let’s face it, we don’t have all the answers and we need the insights of others to succeed.  Ask your team for their ideas, solutions, and feedback.  Yes, you get the final say on any implementation but your congregation will benefit from the collective talents of your team.

#3:   Your efforts are appreciated and vital to this ministry.

Ministry is messy, hard work.  Just because we’re serving God, that doesn’t mean we don’t still need some encouragement now and then.  Praise your team in front of the congregation when they knock it out of the park; acknowledge a staff member’s great idea at the next staff meeting.  You’ll reenergize your team with a few simple, heartfelt words.

#4:   You need to go home / take a vacation.

While their dedication is admirable and appreciated, don’t allow your team members to neglect their health and their families for the ministry.  It does not honor God when families fall apart because mom or dad worked 60+ hours a week in ministry.  Make sure they don’t work late too often and that they take vacations.  Note: You need to lead the way on this one.  If you’re staying late all the time, your staff will feel like they have to do likewise.  Set a good example and go home to your family.

#5:   Do you have the information and tools you need to succeed?

Church staff members can be weird sometimes.  They’ll hobble along, trying to “make it work” and don’t tell you that they really need a certain piece of equipment or information.  They may think that they’re doing the right thing, but in reality they are wasting time (and money) spinning their wheels.  So, ask if there’s anything they need.  Tell them to ignore cost for a moment and just tell you.  You can deal with the details later – start by pulling the information out of them.

#6:   What can I do to help?

This question came from a message Andy Stanley taught at a Catalyst One Day event.  I love this question because it shows that as a leader, you’re willing to offer your time and talents to serve your team.  Our perfect example of leadership comes from Jesus who came to serve, not to be served.  We should follow His example and serve our teams.  Yes, you have limited time available but ask anyway.  Simply by asking the question, even if they don’t need your help right then, will show your team that you’re willing to serve.

#7:   What are my blind spots?

This one requires you to be open to hearing feedback you may not like, so be prepared.  We all have blind spots – areas that we just don’t see and may be hurting our teams, families, or ourselves.  Ask this question to 1-2 people at a time and make sure they know that you truly want to hear their input.  Listen carefully, ask clarifying questions if needed, and thank them for their help.  Then pray and seek additional assistance as needed to know how to act upon this new information.  The next big breakthrough for you and your church could come out of this simple question.

What else should pastors say to their teams?  If you’ve tried these, how did it go? 

  • You are right that the team needs to hear these things but they must also believe you mean it based on history. It does no good to ask for their input if you never act on it. Telling them to take a vacation because you’ve been working them 60-70 hours a week for months on end sends mixed messages. Make sure your actions are sending the same message as your mouth.

    • Brady,

      Excellent point! We have to make sure our words are consistent with our actions at all times. If a leader realizes he’s been inconsistent, then admitting that to the team and apologizing may be the first step required to making healthy changes.

      -Deborah

    • Brady,

      Excellent point! We have to make sure our words are consistent with our actions at all times. If a leader realizes he’s been inconsistent, then admitting that to the team and apologizing may be the first step required to making healthy changes.

      -Deborah