The phrase “one another” is used 100 times in the New Testament. You may have heard or preached a sermon on the “one anothers” of the Bible. You may even fully understand that the “one anothers” apply to the whole body of the church. Good!
But I want to challenge you to apply the “one anothers” to your church staff. Why?
- You should be modeling what you want your church body to do. If your church staff can’t fulfill the “one anothers”, how will your church do it?
- Your church staff aren’t just employees. They are brothers and sisters, as much a part of the church body as anyone else. When you fulfill the “one anothers” among your staff, you’re simply being obedient.
- Practically speaking, the “one anothers” are just guidelines for people to work together with grace and love. They’re rules for effective collaboration among believers.
One Pastor’s Story
I was talking with a pastor recently and he was convicted of something that I’d never heard before. But, though it was new to me, I get the feeling that it’s common, just unspoken.
He said his church’s staff leaders were good at working together. He said they’re great at sharing ideas, working to hone those ideas to their best version, and helping each other with the projects that come out of those best ideas.
In short, they were great collaborators.
His conviction was that they weren’t modeling the “one anothers” of the New Testament. In fact, they acted more like colleagues than brothers and sisters. They were great at “co-laboring together”, but they didn’t pray together, carry one another’s burdens, accept one another, show patience…you get the idea.
They were a great team, but they were a terrible Christian family.
I left that conversation thinking that I’d never been on a church staff team that did those things, either. I’ve been on very effective church teams. I’ve worked with some incredible preachers and amazingly effective family ministry leaders, but I’ve never been on a church staff that fulfilled the “one anothers” well.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the churches I’ve served have heathen leaders. In fact, I’ve prayed with and been encouraged by other staff members at every church I’ve served.
But what I think was missing is the same thing my pastor-friend felt was missing.
We collaborate. We strive for excellence in ministry through preaching, fun environments for kids, meaningful Bible studies, engaging small groups…but as a staff we forget that we should be modeling the “one anothers” for our church body.
I want to share some ideas for you to start modeling some of those 100 “one anothers” with your church staff.
Be at peace with one another; Mark 9:50 – Conflict among church staff isn’t new. In fact, it’s one of the most common concerns and headaches most pastors face. Most pastors find that they spend a large portion of their ministry worrying about and playing peacemaker between two or more staff members that just can’t get along.
Don’t grumble among one another; John 6:43 – Strife and stress in a church staff team is often made worse by grumbling and complaining. It’s hard to avoid all complaining, but I’ve found that a mindfulness toward gratitude is a great antidote to complaining.
Confess sins to one another; James 5:16 – While I do not believe in confession to one another for the forgiveness of sins, I do believe that transparency and openness are the foundation of trust. When you commit a sin against a brother or sister, whether they know about it or not, you should confess that sin to them. Confession is the first step toward healing, both for you and for your relationship with your fellow laborer.
Wash one another’s feet; John 13:14 – Many Christians translate this to a more palatable “serve one another”, but that’s only because our western culture sees feet washing as awkward. I think the act of washing one another’s feet is a good thing and should be done. Yes, it’s more symbolic than anything, but it’s also a clear picture of humility before our brothers and sisters.
Submit to one another; Ephesians 5:21 – This passage isn’t only talking about married couples. It’s talking to the body of Christ, too. Submission to one another is a key aspect of living as part of the church. Practicing submission to one another, without slipping into the sin of lording power over one another, is vital to modeling that same balance to your church body.
Be hospitable to one another; 1 Peter 4:9 – This one should be simple and fun. Your staff should be hosting one another in their homes. You could make an argument that hospitality is more than just inviting others into your home, but I think that’s overcomplicating a very simple concept that should be simple to follow.
If your church staff is struggling with unity, if there’s strife or discord, if your church isn’t caring for one another, or if you get a sense that your isn’t treating each other like brothers and sisters in Christ, I encourage you to try to refocus on fulfilling these and many other “one anothers” among yourselves.
It may mean spending more time in your staff meetings talking about the “one anothers” and how you can actively fulfill them. It may mean that your collaboration around projects becomes less efficient because you’re spending more time in prayer and service and burden carrying. It may even mean pruning staff members who aren’t interested in this type of relationship with their colleagues.
No matter the sacrifice, I believe you’ll find spiritual health through practicing the “one anothers” will lead to greater Kingdom impact and effectiveness, not to mention other spiritual blessings.
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