3 Keys to Leveraging Diversity on a Ministry Team

It still amazes me that I could acquire a degree in Management and Marketing and never once be introduced to some of the most fundamental tools that have helped me develop personally, professionally and spiritually.  If I could turn back the clock to my early 20s I would no doubt spend my time focusing on the idea of self-awareness.  Understanding my own diversity has been the biggest breakthrough in my life impacting the way I lead my teams, myself and my family.

What is Diversity on a Ministry Team?

There are many types of diversities that exist, and while ethnic diversity plays a role, I’ve found it to be a much smaller one compared to everything else.  As unique individuals made by God, we must look at all the different areas of our life that set us apart.  There are personality types, love languages, natural talents, life experiences, passions, spiritual gifts and more that when analyzed, give us a unique picture of who we are in the world and clue us in to what types of jobs and roles we are most likely to succeed in.

If you lead a team of any kind in ministry, you will set yourself up for much success by following these 3 keys to developing yourself and those around you.

1.       Get familiar with assessment tools

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

C.G. Jung

“The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Proverbs 20:5

Assessment tools are like compasses for those who successfully lead others well.  Try planning sermons for the next year without using a bible and see how effective that becomes.  Assessment tools where developed by those proverbial men and women of understanding who discovered how to draw out those deep purposes within us.  Those of us in ministry are well familiar with one of these assessments, the spiritual gifts test.  These spiritual assessments are great but only represent a piece of the puzzle. 

My first challenge to you would be to test out a variety of assessments including:

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator
StrengthsFinder
DiSC Assessment
What Motivates Me (TheCultureWorks.com)
5 Love Languages

Choose the ones that bring you the greatest insight into who you are and then prepare to share with your team.

2.       Assess yourself and your team

I hate planning events.  There is nothing worse than sitting around a table and dissecting all the different things we need to do for our annual outreach, Easter Egg Hunt, carnival, blah blah blah.  And yet, I know that if we do not pay attention to the details, assess the event each year and find the right people to take on the right roles, the quality of the event will suffer. 

The truth is, as ministry leaders, we often put more effort into assessing our events and their success than we do the people who make these events happen in the first place.  This is one of many reasons people burn out in ministry.  If we are not careful, we will find ourselves constantly delegating stuff for our teams to do and neglect investing in their overall growth as a person.  This neglect communicates to those we lead that we care more about what they can do of us or the church than we do how they are developing as a person, a professional, and a child of God. 

When you take the time to assess your team and get to know their deep passions, their unspoken preferences, their motivations and their personality types, you put yourself in a position to lead them with excellence and awaken their own understanding of who God uniquely made them to be.  In our organization we created something called the Personal Development Assessment.  Feel free to check it out and copy what we have done: http://www.joeelliottlive.com/success-coaching/ . We use this with teens, young adults, volunteers…everyone.  It has become the single greatest tool we use to not only speak into someone’s life and affirm their God-given DNA, but also help them find areas to get involved and further develop their gifts and passions. 

The final key to leveraging the diversity of your team after you have assessed everyone is to…

3.       Put people in the right roles and celebrate their success

This part can take some time to master so be patient.  One of our favorite assessments is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI.  We have created a worksheet for you to download with the 16 different personality types and how they can be positioned for success in ministry.  It’s just one of many examples that you can use to help you leverage the diversity on your team. 

Having the right people in the right roles is great but if you want to see them continue to shine you must learn how to celebrate their successes.   It’s a human thing that we crave feedback.  When we discover we used our unique gifting to do something well and other people notice, that’s a motivating feeling.  As leaders we can reaffirm the diversity on our teams by publicly letting the detail oriented folks know that their gift really helped an event succeed.  We can thank the person who’s love language was acts of service that they did such a great job supporting the group.  We can celebrate our extraverts and the way they really added fun to the environment and made other feel welcome.

You get the point.  Calling out specific gifts within a member of your team and celebrating how it made a difference is the best way to affirm those around you and continue drawing the best out of them.

Quick Summary

God desires for us to shine in every area of our lives.  We need to continue to lead our teams into spiritual truths however we do them a great disservice when we stop there.  Leveraging the diversity on your team well will mean developing a deeper understanding into how everyone is wired and helping everyone recognize the strengths that each person brings to the table beyond just their natural talents or spiritual gifting’s.  As a leader you know you can’t export what you don’t import so make sure you take the time to experience the value of deepening your own self-awareness using some of the assessment tools that God has given some really smart humans the wisdom to create.