Problem to Solve or Tension to Manage?

Over the years I have noticed something about working shoulder-to-shoulder with others to accomplish a common goal…when you work with people, you will have tension.  Run the numbers, look at it as many ways as you can – when you work with people tensions will arise.  There are a variety of reasons why this is true, and the question we need to ask ourselves is “what do we do with tension?”

For years I would look at these tensions and address them as if they were a problem.  That was inexperienced thinking, which was adjusted in great part by Nancy Ortberg through her book, “Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands.”  If you have not read this book, it is a fantastic read for anyone who works with people.  One of the best thoughts spurred on by Ortberg is the idea that when you work alongside others you will find that there are both tensions to manage and problems to solve.  The goal as a leader is to discern which you are dealing with – because problems and tensions are very different.

Problems create breakdown within volunteer teams, tension bonds people together.  Problems can stunt growth within volunteers; tension creates growth opportunities within volunteer.  Problems are caused by unhealthy pressure; tension is created by healthy pressure.

Tension has the ability to bring out the best in volunteers and leaders; it is a healthy pressure that produces growth and maturity for those in the “pressure cooker.”  Think of a rubber band – when there is too little tension it adds no value; when there is too much tension it is in danger of snapping.  A rubber band is optimized when there is an appropriate amount of tension present.  The same thing is true for volunteers and teams – with the right amount of tension people are pressed to be at their best.  Pressure creates tension, and tension produces growth.

For the next few posts, I am going to address what I have found to be a number of tensions that surface for teams and ministry leaders when we are under pressure.  Lead through these tensions well, growth will take place.  Try to address these as if they are a problem and you will remove a huge growth opportunity.  Here are the top 3 tensions I have identified within volunteer teams and leaders:

  • The Speed of Productivity vs. the Speed of Relationships
  • The Abundance Mentality vs. the Scarcity Mentality
  • A Systematic Approach vs. An Immediate Approach

Looking forward to looking at these 3 tensions with you!

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