“Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person…” I Cor. 13:7 AMP
This is one of my all-time favorite scriptures. It is what I aspire to, yet often fall so short. It came to mind as I was reading Mark Batterson’s Wild Goose Chase. He was sharing the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus in Luke 22. It was a poignant moment after Peter’s denial of Christ, after the rooster crowed, when Jesus looked directly at Peter. What a beautiful picture! Jesus still believed in Peter, even at his worst, and his body language let Peter know that.
As leaders, we, too, have the opportunity to see the best—and help bring out the best—in our team. This can be challenging at times, since people are, well, people. So many times, in my impatience or frustration, I assume the worst or forget to look beyond someone’s actions to what’s in their heart.
Here are five ways we can use our body language to believe in our people…even when they are at their worst:
- Use your head—study your people. Know their strengths, their hearts, and their weaknesses. Consider their unique personalities and how that affects their behavior. Discover their God-story and how they came to serve Jesus. Keep notes to help you remember the details.
- Maintain eye contact—maintain connection even when they disappoint you. As Jesus looked into Peter’s eyes, the physical act of eye contact communicates loudly to your team of your acceptance and loyalty.
- Keep your mouth shut—control the urge to criticize or judge. Instead, defend them in the face of criticism. Refuse to speak about others behind their backs, especially when you don’t have all the facts.
- Bend your knees—commit to praying for your people (especially the challenging ones!) This act will keep you humble, ward off strife, and create unity like nothing else you can do. Ask God to help you recognize their gifts and passions, and for the wisdom to equip them to serve Him better.
- Jump to the right conclusions—assume they have the best intentions regardless of their behavior. This is critical! Once you know a person’s heart, it is easier to understand their actions. Take time to get to know your leaders and volunteers. This will help ease friction and minimize misunderstandings.
These five things will help you see and bring out the best in your team, even in the midst of challenges.
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I’m just catching up on the CVDs for this week, and point #5 of this post caught my eye. It reminds me of one of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: “Seek first to understand and then to be understood.” Can you imagine what a better world we would live in if more people made this one of their habits?!