Wing People : The Joy of Serving Together in Ministry

Wingman-shirt-lg All ministers need a wingman. Check that…all people need a wingman. Or, if you’re female… a wingwoman. You can work with a number of wingpeople, you really only have one or two WingMen (capital "W"). Tomorrow we'll discuss the capital "W" people that make life and ministry so much more fulfilling and productive. Today, we discuss what might be called a "Wing Team." They are teams of "wing-people." 

Wing-people are those you charge the hill with, enter the battle with…and know they have your back. They seek God’s best for you in all circumstances. They aren’t afraid to notice when something’s off or you haven’t been yourself. Wing-people help fight off those who would harm you, though wing-people are willing to challenge to you be better. Wing-people are those we feel a deep relational connection with because we trust and respect them. Such relationships form the backbone of healthy ministry teams.

A study of fifty-five high-performing global business teams at fifteen global firms conducted for a 2007 Harvard Business Review article, “Eight Ways to Build Collaborative Teams,” found that deep social bonds were the major predictor of team success. The other two? Formal initiatives to strengthen relationships, and leaders who invest the time to build strong relationships with their teams.

Keith Ferrazzi notes: “In his book Vital Friends, author Tom Rath cites research from the Gallup Organization that attests to the fact that people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. Yep—that’s seven times. Not only are these people more joyful and more apt to innovate, take risks, collaborate, and share bold new ideas, but their customers are more engaged as well. In fact, if you have close friends at work whom you respect, your employee satisfaction level increases by 50 percent (you’re happier with your benefits as well as your paycheck).”

If you doubt the truth here, think about the effectiveness of ministry teams, staff team, elderships, etc., where people don’t get along and don’t have close relationships. Effective, right? Not in ministry. Even one dysfunctional elder, staff member, or ministry leader can sewer a ministry (or church) that possesses enormous redemptive potential without their interference. They undermine love and trust—which is to undermine the relational foundation of ministry.

Some people fear the more camaraderie that takes place the less work will done. Not true. It doesn’t match evidence or experience. Wing-people make ministry not only more enjoyable, but also more effective—while they make risk-taking easier because people know, love and trust one another. Work isn’t just work to wing-people teams. It’s time they get to do something that matters with those they love and respect. So, people work longer hours gladly, pick up the occasional slack someone leaves, go the extra mile for one another. They will also assume the best of each other, giving one another the benefit of the doubt. This helps teams avoid the high-drama and low productivity of dysfunctional teams.

Developing of such trust occurs organically through common commitment to the Cause, respectful and encouraging behavior, and modest efforts at friendship. In a fairly short time, people on the team come together, and some on the team will really “click” with others on the team. As time goes on, battles are fought together, and friendship grows, the team functions at a higher level and better ministry is generally the result.

That's how healthy teams function: in Christ, on a relational foundation of love and trust.

What keeps teams from reaching this ideal?

Do you agree that teams with a high relationship factor do better ministry, or are they typically less effective?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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