How to Achieve Alignment within Your Team
My truck had a rough weekend. A few days ago as I jumped on the interstate, my entire vehicle began to shake as I approached 70 mph. It felt as if the truck would fly apart like a two-dollar watch. I took it to the mechanic and immediately they began to evaluate. The mechanic didn’t evaluate everything from the start but instead began with priorities that were foundational to how the truck drove. They ignored the missing piece of trim but looked closely at the tires. The mechanic’s crew communicated with each other as they determined the problem and figured out a solution. There was a process from evaluation, to maintenance, to solution, to payment. The problem, it turned out, was that a tire was out of alignment. My front right tire was literally trying to go a different direction than the rest of the truck. It is a natural trajectory of teams to drift out of alignment but this must be intentionally overcome. The solution is the same – Foundational Priorities, Common Language, and a Clear Process.
So, how did Jesus align His team? Let’s begin by acknowledging that, like a car, alignment isn’t a one and done thing – alignment is an ongoing process. Jesus never assumed that because His team was aligned in the past, that they were in the present. He continually evaluated and realigned. For example, in John 6, we see one of the quickest trips from mountain top high to dark valley low. Jesus had just led his team in the “feeding of the 5,000” but immediately escaped to avoid being made King by force. Now, it’s Saturday morning and the crowds find Him in the synagogue at Capernaum. However, they aren’t looking for a King to submit to, but a leader to carry out their plans. They are not in alignment with Jesus. At this moment Jesus doesn’t assume that His disciples are any more aligned than others so He questions if they want to leave as well. A potential schism becomes a quick realignment. Pastoral meetings and ministry team meetings all become opportunities to set the trajectory and make sure all are pulling in the same direction.
How are you evaluating and realigning regularly?
The Pharisees were meticulous in using the right words (language). Three times a day they prayed about loving God, but allocation became a problem. When it came time to deploy energy and resources, their lives didn’t “align” with what they said. What we prioritize is a powerful tool in creating real alignment, not simply the appearance of alignment. Jesus lived in such a way that His priorities became obvious and they acted as a regular realignment for those following Him. “Walk Like Jesus” is a wonderful study to walk through the 6 priorities of Jesus. We all intuitively know Jesus had priorities and we know we have priorities, but we often don’t pause and see if we are aligned. For more on the foundational principles of Jesus, read this blog by Jay Fast.
What would others say are the priorities of your ministry? How are you intentionally aligning yourself to Jesus’ priorities?
Jesus’ use of a common language was critical in aligning his ministry. In Mark 1:15 (after John had been arrested), Jesus begins to proclaim that the “Kingdom of God is near”. In Luke 9, Jesus sends out the 12 to “proclaim the Kingdom of God.” He spent much time in public and in private clarifying God’s Kingdom. This is only one example of a unified, common language creating alignment. I’ve seen this particularly effective in Sonlife’s 4 Chair Discipling training as teams learn and define terms. The strength of a common language, not simply saying the same thing but meaning the same thing, results in greater alignment as a team.
Do your ministry leaders use the same language in life and ministry? How do you see alignment growing out of a common language?
Finally, what brings alignment to Jesus’ ministry was the process. He doesn’t just gather “good people” and say, “let’s do good things, what do you want to do?”. Jesus lays out a clear mission and He invites others to join. He models the process for accomplishing that mission in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. In Mark 1:35-39, the small team of four are excited about all they see accomplished and are eager to see more but Jesus decisively leads them away to continue the mission. Jesus establishes a pattern of regularly instilling His mission into His followers. When studying “Knowing Him”, you will discover this pattern and process.Just because we’ve posted a mission statement somewhere in our facility, does not mean we will accomplish it. Without a clear process, we will often fall prey to the multi-headed monster of mission drift. We must regularly call our leaders back to and hold them (and ourselves) accountable to carrying out the mission of making disciples. Having an articulate disciple-making process not only reminds us of our mission but also assists in seeing it achieved.
If asked separately, what would your leaders say the process of making disciples is? Can leaders in your ministry identify where people are in their journey, where they are headed and what the next step is to get them there?