You need disagreement in a team

Disagreement can strengthen a team if it is about the mission not about the people. 

There was a time in my ministry career where I was offering a particular church an internship program that included a free trip to Europe to pass on to their volunteers as an incentive or reward and this particular church rejected the offer.  It was difficult for me to understand how they could reject an offer that was free, all it cost them was some mentoring time and administration.  From my perspective it was the “right thing” but from their perspective it was not “free”, it was extra work.

Whilst this disagreement was difficult at first, it was the best thing in the long run.  From my perspective I had to rethink how I was selling the idea and from the perspective of the church they had to rethink why they rejected the idea.  After much thought I was able to understand the concerns of the church and answer their concerns.  Together we were able to run the program in their church which was a great outcome.

Sometimes in ministry we go to great lengths to avoid disagreement because we think that is the Christian way.  But what if disagreement helped strengthen our ministries?  What if we could give and take a little bit to strengthen an idea or event?  Perhaps we need to have people around us that disagree with us as leaders so that we can grow stronger.

Here a three reasons we need people who are prepared to disagree with you in your ministry team:

  1. Much of the world disagrees with us – sometimes we get so enclosed in our ministry bubble that we forget that many people disagree with the church.  We can surround ourselves with people that think and act like us to the point that we think we are doing perfectly.  Yet Jesus called us in Matthew 28 to reach all the nations, not just the ones that agree with us.  When we realise that much of the world disagrees with us, we learn to contextualise the Good News.
  2. It builds stronger relationships – when we learn to push each other and ask for clarification it can strengthen the bonds of friendship.  When people go through difficult times together it strengthens their relationship.  The great organisations allow healthy disagreement so they strengthen the team.  It is reported that Steve Jobs (Apple inc.) rejected the packaging design for one of the products Apple was about to launch.  When the designers simplified the packaging Steve Jobs liked it and that simple style became part of the Apple branding.  Disagreement can strengthen a team if it is about the mission not about the people.
  3. It makes you a better leader – if you create a culture as a leader where everyone has to agree with you then you might loose some of your best team members.  People on a team want to believe that their idea can be heard and implemented, even if it is not the idea of the top leader.  Generation Y are especially concerned that their ideas have a chance of being implemented.  You will be a better leader if you can surround yourself with people who will agree and disagree with you.

A final word of warning; there can’t be total disagreement in a team if you want to be successful in your mission.  Every team needs to unify for the mission at some point.  Many successful ministry teams have specific creative meetings to brainstorm ideas where disagreement is allowed then once the idea is defined then all members must unify; agree to agree on the final outcome.

Please post a comment on how you have been strengthened by some disagreement in your ministry.


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