Influencing Culture, Even When You’re Not in Charge

Influencing Culture, Even When You're Not in Charge

How fun is it to work on a staff? To be mentored, to have fun, to be a part of a dynamic culture. To dream, to accomplish, to laugh, to cry, to have your best friends there to hold up your arms. Isn’t it the greatest?

It truly is. Until, of course, it isn’t. At all.

We all have our horror stories of being on a church staff. Sometimes it’s the greatest place in the world and sometimes you’d rather just stay in bed. Forever.

As I visit churches all across America, I encounter some staff members who love their work (and who they work with) and others who just want to get out.

Where are you? Do you love what you do? Do you love who you get to work with?

It’s true. You might be in a less-than-stellar environment. And you have a choice to either leave or to make it better. Because here’s the deal: You don’t have an option to hang on, gossip, check-out, disagree, not speak up and coast through your job. That kind of life isn’t good for you, your team or the people you lead.

Either LOVE your work or find something else to do.

Think about it. The grass is always greener somewhere else, but what if you approached where you were with total focus and “all in” attention? What would change?

I’ve had the privilege of being part of an incredible team. But I’ve had my fair share of temptation to just coast and show up for the job, not investing my best self.

That might be where you are right now. You might be looking for a new role. You might be praying for a change.

What to Do Before You Leave

If you find yourself in a difficult situation, try this before You leave:

1. Speak Up – When you’re in meetings, stop just being a fly on the wall and disagreeing when you leave. Speak up. Contribute. Come prepared. Take notes. Be all in. It doesn’t mean you need to agree on everything. Matter of fact, if you don’t, say so. Better to have public disagreement than private.

2. Make Something Big Happen – Your job will begin to stall when you stop reaching higher. Whenever you simply maintain what has been in the past, you lose your edge. Your passion dwindles. You need something to reach for. You need to make something big happen that serves your church and is beyond what someone is expecting of you.

3. Lead With Vulnerability – Breakdowns happen in a team when we forget vulnerability and communication stops. Sure, you might not be in charge, but lead the way with vulnerability and open dialogue. Initiate conversations with your supervisor. Bring issues out into the open and face it.

4. Be an Advocate – Breakdowns happen when you break down your organization behind the scenes. Great culture is fought for from everyone on the team. What would change if you stopped harping about how much you hated your job and you started advocating for it? Even if you’re not being led well, what if you bragged on your leaders and the vision for the future? What if?

5. Own Another’s Vision – Sure, maybe there is tension. You haven’t seen eye to eye with your leader or pastor. But have you tried to give yourself 100 percent to the fulfillment of their vision? If not, give it a try. Something changes in you when you humble yourself and pour yourself out for another’s vision. There are valuable lessons to learn in that process and just maybe a change of heart.

I’d love to hear from you. How do you create culture and lead when you’re in a tough place?

What are you learning?

This article originally appeared here.

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David Santistevan
David is a Worship Pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, PA.

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