Interpersonal Leadership: Trust-Building
“Encouragement: Courage to Lead by Caring” (SL#80)
By Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® Vol. 7.2 - Trust-Building

1. Encouragement: Opening Reflection and Meanings

2. Courage and Encouragement: A Biblical Viewpoint

Please note: The following comments are adapted with permission from the Zondervan Dictionary; they introduce the central thrust of the New Testament message. Reflection and Application are offered to encourage you to pull that message into your space and ministry role. How do you respond to this central understanding of the active role of encouraging among the members of a congregation? Let’s start with a thesis text from the earliest recorded Scripture.

3. Encouragement as Caring, Trust-Building

Another way to learn how to lead through encouragement is to look at encouragement through the skin and skill of several contemporary researchers and practitioners. Reflecting on the concepts of these leaders may help you, both to understand and consistently practice encouragement:

4. Ministry Reflections, Practices, and Trust-Building Actions:

Encouragement most often takes place in small, continuous, and consistent ways. From a review of best practices discovered and reported by students of leadership, and from my own years of experience, observation, and misadventure, I want to share selected ministry practices that make a difference in a leadership that cares. You may also want to add to the collection, assess your practices, or plan your actions toward encouragement that builds trust.

___ Courage: Living your life with courage is an essential component of encouraging others. “Encourage their hearts.” There are times to be confident, brave, outspoken. It takes courage to be steadfast, to stand the test of time. “Be a believer” in the midst of the congregation and with team leaders. “With God’s help, we can do this together.”

___ Friendship: Develop and sustain friendship with members and co-workers; to make friends, you must be a friend by affirmation, by knowing names, likes, dislikes, hopes and hurts, what matters and what is just fun. Mutual friendship is based on trustworthiness, openness, trust, respect, and understanding.

___ Storytelling: Tell your own real stories, and listen to those of others. Through storytelling, you are showing mutual openness and interest; enjoying presence by listening, laughing and crying together; nurturing and passing on shared heritage; and learning the lessons of the past and current experiences.

___ Caring: Really care for people; stand alongside to comfort and console: to share, support, help in time of need. Look out for them and their best interest; guard against destructive confrontation and competition. Create a healthy atmosphere. Make the church-place a healing place in times of disappointment, struggles, and grief.

___ Hope: “Sustain hope” in the progress, direction, and future of the congregation. Hope is a state of being lived out in consistent acts. Keep hope alive even when things are not going well in the work of the congregation.

___ Inspiration: Inspire others, by example and practices, even when things are difficult. Serve others as a “cheerleader.” Be positive, optimistic and enthusiastic about mutual goals and tasks. Attempt the difficult task, claim the opportunity.

___ Challenge: “Exhortation” is one of the biblical meanings of encouragement. It involves instruction and vision, and call to action. Announce, “This is our time to discover new horizons, improved methods, enlarged resources, and new beginnings.”

___ Empowerment: Share mutual goals and efforts toward achievement. Involve others in decisions, efforts, responsibility, and accountability. Encourage creativity for others to achieve their goals; allow for risks and failures.

___ Team-building: Practice cooperative intentions: choose the right people for your team; be explicit about assignment and expectations; build enduring connections within the congregation. Casey Stengel is quoted: “It’s easy to get good players. Gettin’ ‘em to play together, that’s the hard part.” Also, encourage by reducing destructive confrontation or competition.

___ Recognition and reward: “Make heroes of other people.” Build a positive reward system including acceptance, appreciation, award, and celebration. Communicate a positive sense of achievement and well-being. Ellen Castro writes: “Build trust by honoring others--because it is the right thing to do as well as a sound business practice; it creates a greater sense of self-worth.” --from 52 Ways, p. 42

5. “Encouragement and Trust in the Workplace”

(Adapted from SkillTrack Volume 7.2: Trust-Building: The Leadership Essential, 2003 (pp 47-48), A Study Abstract by Lloyd Elder from the Electric Library: Public Personnel Management: “Trust in Employee/Employer Relationships: A Survey of West Michigan Managers.” The benefit of this abstract is to support the thesis that encouragement and support of other people is a key and integrated component of trust-building. Acts of encouragement have their own place in trust-building; but they are also like strands of fibers in the whole of a valued fabric. The survey reported here sought to measure the place of trust in employer/employee relationships.

Reflections and Lessons: When you read the full research survey, or even this abstract, you may readily concur that the elements of trust expected in the workplace should be that much more experienced within a congregation. As Christian ministers, let your reflection wander over spiritual and practical lessons, such as:

Process and Findings: Now, let’s look at the process and the findings of this survey effort; I have added reflections along the ways. A survey instrument was sent to the vice president of Human Resources of 426 companies employing more than 50 employees in six contiguous Michigan counties. Of the 426 company officers, 376 received the instrument; 143 responded, representing a statistically significant return of 38.03%. Summary of survey results:

For Your Reflection and Application: What are the major values of this survey to Christian ministers who want to know, understand, and respond to members in the congregation?

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©2008; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership