Maintaining a Healthy Culture of Development 

October 1, 2019

By: Rob Fenley

If you want to be excellent, you’ll have to put in work to develop. There’s no silver bullet. Some people are naturally wired to progress more quickly than others, but this universal truth remains: all must work to become excellent. In most cases, a culture of development will foreshadow a culture of excellence. Therefore, it is critical for your ministry to embrace the work of development in your pursuit of excellence. This article will highlight the three components that must be present to maintain a healthy culture of development. 

Culture of Humility. 

The first components that must be present in a thriving culture of development is a humble heart and a teachable spirit. How could you possibly grow in areas where pride has falsely inflated your self-view? A posture of humility is not self-deprecating, where accomplishments or gifts are viewed as insignificant. Rather, a posture of humility demands a healthy, balanced perspective of your strengths and weaknesses. You possess God-given gifts and abilities, but you will always have room to develop. Once you’re able to view yourself with sober judgement, the next step is to employ a teachable spirit. A humble heart acknowledges the need for development; a teachable spirit makes the leap into action. Recognition alone will not satisfy a need. You must have both. 

Culture of self-accountability. 

Very few musicians would actively choose to be mediocre if given the choice. What’s far more common, however, is musicians passively choosing mediocrity by failing to put in the work required to develop into excellent players. For you to be most successful in your development journey, the primary force of motivation must come from within. While the feedback and guidance of others is immensely valuable, you are ultimately responsible for your own development. The reverse is also true; you cannot be ultimately responsible for the personal development of your teammates. While you can certainly encourage them and even inform and teach them, it is imperative for you to impress upon them the need to personally embrace the culture of development. You can attend trainings and informative gatherings left and right, but you are responsible for applying the information received. No one can apply feedback for you. It must start with you. 

Culture of honest feedback. 

No one likes hurting people’s feelings, especially when the individual in question is voluntarily giving up his or her time and energy to serve with you. But, if you believe what you’re doing is important, you know it’s worth doing well, and that requires hard conversations. Your congregation worshipping their Creator is too important to leave excellence on the table. There’s simply too much on the line. You must create a culture where feedback is not just delivered, but requested. To do this effectively, you must invest relationally in your teammates. They must know that you care deeply about them, not just as a volunteer, but as a brother / sister. When you have enough relational equity built up with an individual, you can create more space for honest, hard conversations. 

As you humbly pursue a culture of self-accountability and feedback, it’s important to remember that we’re imperfect teams comprised of imperfect people, and we’re all on the same developmental journey together. Extend grace and understanding as you continue toward a common goal. You can’t precisely control how quickly you move through this process, but you can control your effort and perspective as you become the best you can be for the glory of God.