We all know that unity is essential. Psalm 133 tells us that God commands His blessing where unity exists-when brothers and sisters dwell in unity. It might be easier to be in unity with others across the world, but the challenge is to be in unity with those in close proximity. Not quarreling or being in competition, but rather delighting in one another. Unity is not all of us doing the same thing, but each of us using our different gifts headed in the same direction.
A symphony is beautiful, not because all are playing the same instrument, but because each musician is playing the same song. If each musician played his or her favorite song, it would just be a cacophony of noise. In a symphony, each is bringing a sound that contributes to the harmony which makes the song amazing.
Same in church.
We all want God’s blessing on our lives and our churches, and that comes when we walk in unity. Unity comes when we each lay down our ego and our way and prefer the other.
A bible scholar puts it like this:
Living in harmony does not mean that we will agree on everything; there will be many opinions just as there are many notes in a musical chord. But we must agree on our purpose in life—to work together for God. Our outward expression of harmony will reflect our inward harmony of purpose.
At a leadership gathering recently, I was asked this question:
How do we create unity in our leadership teams, especially in teams of very strong people, when you have a lot of strong opinions?
As a senior leader, it is up to you to cast a compelling and clear vision. You tell everyone the ‘song.’ It is your responsibility to give the big picture and the time line to reach it. When a vision is clear, it makes it easier for those who serve with you to follow.
As a leader of a department, it is up to you to take the vision from your senior leader and make it relevant to your department. It becomes your job to use your instrument to play the ‘song’ given by the leader, not come up with a new ‘song.’ If you disagree with the direction, communicate it with respect and honor. Most leaders are open for different opinions, but they shut down when they are communicated with disrespect.
As a senior leader, I love hearing the different opinions and ideas about how to carry out the vision I have in my heart. In creating the She Rises conference, I have the big picture ideas, but there is no way I could bring it to completion without the help and input of others. For this year, I had an idea about how to create the opener, which would set the mood and create the atmosphere I wanted. The team listened, and then strongly came back with ideas, while they initially seemed different, they actually will make it better. My job is to give the ‘song’ and then let the other instruments play their part. I also have to be strong enough and clear enough. I have found most problems with unity come when the leader is not clear enough, or when the followers ignore the ‘song.’ I am an outgoing, strong leader and am not intimidated by the outspoken opinions of others, and so am willing listen. I am also willing to say, “no,” that is not what I want, and then paint the picture again.
Senior leader challenge: Be clear with the vision. Be open for strong opinions on how to make it happen. Be clear with each yes and each no.
Team member challenge: Make sure you understand the vision-the ‘song.’ Use your strengths to figure out how to reach the vision-to make the ‘song’ better.
And for all of us: God commands his blessing when unity is present. That means between our churches as well. We will all do things differently. If we waste time arguing over where we are different – the enemy wins.
I heard someone say one time about our church…and they said it in a disparaging way “there are other ways to do church.” Well…duh! There are thousands-as many ways as there are churches.
Some sing hymns-some don’t.
Some speak in tongues-some don’t.
Some say dancing is bad-some dance with passion.
Some say no drinking alcohol-some don’t care.
Some say women shouldn’t teach-some have women pastors.
Some are mellow-some are energetic
Some say there shouldn’t be instruments in church-some have full bands.
Some are full of Republicans-some are full of Democrats.
I could keep going, but why would we let these issues divide us? Wouldn’t the fact that we love Jesus and believe that He is the way to God be what unites us?
We will never solve the big challenges on the earth as long as we let issues like these divide us!