Partnerships are the way to the future as the challenges of ministry increase in the ever-changing culture in which we live.
“We’re much stronger together than apart,” is commonly heard by church leaders who are either facing tremendous ministry opportunities or are simply hoping to keep their ship afloat.
If partnerships truly hold tremendous value for churches and related ministries, then why do we find them so hard to do successfully?
It was my privilege some years ago to lead a national movement, Vision 2000 Canada, of more than 120 denominations and ministries committed to evangelism. In the formation of this massive movement, I was fascinated by the way in which different leaders came to the table and what it took to bring about healthy partnerships for the sake of the cause.
Having been involved in countless partnerships since then, I have come to realize that there are three biblical reasons why many of these partnerships are ineffective or do not survive.
In writing about the life of Christ in Philippians 2:3-8, Paul describes three traits that Christ exhibited during His years of ministry leadership. In fact, when these traits are missing in leadership today, then partnerships are doomed to fail. Let’s take a look at these three vital traits.
The Pride Trait
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble,
thinking of others as better than yourselves.
It’s been said, “What’s down in the well comes up in the bucket.” What’s in your heart is sure to become clearly evident in a partnership. If you need to prove that your perspectives must prevail, then working together will reflect more of a competition than a true collabouration.
The Posture Trait
4 Don’t look out only for your own interests,
but take an interest in others, too.
In a partnership, your interests are important but equally so are the interests of your partner(s). Taking time to really listen to others’ interests will enable you to learn what’s most important to them. From that “knowing posture,” then you’re able to lead with greater awareness and understanding that will result in “wins” all the way around.
The Position Trait
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality
with God as something to cling to.
Attitude is often more important than competency when it comes to creating healthy partnerships. Setting aside title, position, and role, provides for an equal playing field. Letting go is hard to do for all of us, as leaders, who are used to being in control. You have nothing to prove other than the fact that you need each other to meet your common goals.
Whenever I’ve experienced partnerships that have had limited success or simply failed, it’s more often than not, that one of these healthy traits have been ignored. I challenge you to use these three traits to check the quality of your on-going and future ministry partnerships.
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