I was really encouraged by the time I spent at St. Paul’s Bloor Street this past summer while I was on sabbatical.
While we were there I noticed a set of principles they use among their leadership team. In my experience we don’t often clarify the ground rules of how we are to relate to each other. We just assume them, which means that we aren’t clear of what to expect from each other.
I find these principles very helpful. They may be worth talking about with your leadership team.
- If you have a concern with me, come to me (privately).
- If I have a concern with you, I’ll come to you (privately).
- If someone has a concern with me and comes to you, send them to me. (I’ll do the same for you.)
- If someone consistently will not take concerns to a leader, say, “Let’s go to the leader together. I am sure they will see us about this.” (I will do the same for you.)
- Be careful how you interpret me. I’d rather do that. On matters that are unclear, do not feel pressured to interpret my feelings or thoughts. It is easy to misinterpret intentions.
- I will be careful how I interpret you. I will interpret you charitably and respectfully.
- If it’s confidential, don’t tell. (This especially applies to ministry.) If you or anyone comes to me in confidence, I won’t tell unless (a) the person is going to harm himself/herself, (b) the person is going to physically harm someone else, (c) a child has been physically or sexually abused. I expect the same confidence from you.
- I do not read unsigned letters or notes.
- I do not manipulate; I will not be manipulated; do not let others manipulate you. Do not let others try to manipulate me through you.
- When in doubt, just say it. The only dumb questions are those that don’t get asked. We are family here and we care about each other, so if you have a concern, pray, and then (if led) speak up. If I can answer it without misrepresenting something or breaking a confidence, I will.