The second component of our bag set is our government bag. This is the bag that determines the strength of our connections and relationships. Let me define it another way: team.

A team may be functional; business or ministry, for example. It might be personal: your team of mentors, advisors and counselors. We may be part of more than one team, and have differing roles in each. We may lead some teams we are in, but not others. Irrespective of your personal team situation, one thing is clear: team is critical for success.

When I worked in the prison service, I received training as a riot commander. Part of that involved having real petrol bombs thrown at me! My team and I were taught to form two rows; the front row had long shields and the second row carried short shields. In the event of a riot with fiery projectiles being hurled at your team, you have to move together or someone gets isolated and hurt. Someone has to decide the direction and the speed, and communicate that; but everyone moves together. The shields never come off the ground or someone gets burnt. There has to leadership, unity and teamwork. Imagine what would happen if everyone in that group decided they should be the leader, or that their idea of dealing with the riot was best and did it alone. These principles of leadership, unity and teamwork apply not just in riots, but in business, ministry, politics, family or any sphere you can picture.

We are in a family; we all need community. In John 17:23 Jesus prays that we would be perfected in unity, so connections are important in the heart of God. Isaiah 9:6 tells that Christ’s government will be on his shoulders. The head rests on the shoulders of the body, and we are body of Christ. God’s plan has never really been about individuals, but more about his people connected to him and to each other.

Effective leaders need to be able to access the gift of government, and to do that they need the gift of team around them. We love the fivefold ministries of Ephesians 4 but they need to be able to function together, drawing from each other’s strengths and giftings. If they don’t, the individual grace that they each carry is arguably less effective. It is no coincidence that the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to describe the church as a body; Ephesians 4:16 tells us each part is connected and when working properly causes the whole thing to grow. The human body works as a team, and the two billion communications working in your brain right now make everything work as it should. What an incredible example of teamwork!

In my previous post, I asked the question “what can you do?” But the next question is equally important: where do you fit? To be truly effective we need to answer this question in the context of the whole body. Where do we fit in correlation with the others God has put around us? It is essential we all learn how to work as part of a team. Knowing our gifts help with this, as do other tools like personality profiles. They help us understand who we and our team members are, but must be used wisely. They are not excuses to justify ungodly character or spiritualise our dysfunctions; sometimes aspects of our personality are actually rooted in fear, pride or shame! We should never say ‘I can’t change’ because in Christ, we go from glory to glory as we are changed in His presence. In fact, often being part of a team will highlight areas he wants to change in us!

We need to learn how to function and serve the leadership of the team. We need to connect with team members whether they are above, below or equal to us in the organisational chart. Communication – both sharing and listening – develop and strengthen connections. It’s wonderful to have high IQ’s (intellectual quotient) but we also need to develop high EQ’s – emotional quotient. Our EQ comes from knowing who we are and how we should interact with those around us.

As we learn to manage relationships and do this in a context of team, we grow as a leaders. This is true whether we have leadership title and position or we don’t! As I shared in a previous post, an aspect of government is steering families towards a vision. You have to be connected to others to be able to build trust. Try engaging with people; genuinely engaging with them. There is a difference between a cursory ‘how are you?’ that doesn’t really want a response and a heartfelt desire for intimacy. It’s amazing what you can learn from someone in forty-five seconds; how are they? What are they doing? Before people want to be led, they want to be loved. Look around you and see who is there; who has God placed around you? Who has he put in your sphere, and why? Build your team from there and let them shape, teach and train you, whether you are officially in charge, or part of something bigger than you.

What’s your plan to connect up?

This post is part of a series on Leadership Essentials, which can be purchased in audio or video format here.