Receiving Others as Gifts: Working Together

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One of the ways that we are gifts to one another is when we team up to do something that we could not do alone. Sometimes we directly serve one another as I wrote about in the post about mutuality, but many times we serve alongside one another to accomplish a larger purpose.

Our collaborative “work” may be in the home, at church, in a volunteer organization, or for paid employment. Wherever we are, when we work together, we are not only gifts to one another but we are gifts to the people and organizations we serve.

In this continuation of my series on Receiving Others as Gifts, I am suggesting four conditions that facilitate working together: empowerment, trust, accountability, and communication. In what follows, I’ll say more about each one.

 

1. Empowerment

Working together is at its best when each person is empowered to operate in his or her unique strengths. Part of the joy of working in teams is that different people can specialize in different facets of the work as each is gifted.

Okay, of course, most jobs require us to operate in some or our less-strong areas to get the job done. For example, I don’t love making phone calls, but sometimes I have to.

Still, when individuals can, for the most part specialize, everyone is genuinely engaged and invested because each gets to do what each loves doing. This benefits the project, organization or cause because it maximizes the time, energy, and expertise of the people involved.

 

2. Trust

Working relationships require a basic level of trust. It’s best to assume people are trustworthy in their roles and tasks unless they prove you otherwise. When trust is present, we can each move forward in our unique roles trusting that others will do the same.

Greater levels of trust can be earned when people fulfill their roles well and demonstrate faithfulness and commitment to the project or organization. Over time, as more trust is earned, the working relationship can strengthen.

When we trust others, it means not worrying whether they’ll do what they said. It also means not micromanaging what they do. These behaviors ultimately only weaken the organization and erode trust over time.

 

3. Accountability

An empowered and high trust work environment also needs high accountability. Remaining open to questions and receiving feedback graciously helps keep the work on track.

Of course, arbitrary and negative criticism is destructive and not what true accountability is about. Accountability, rather, can be thought of as check-points to support one another.

True accountability reaffirms the goals and values of the work at hand in a positive way. It then helps people reflect on how they are doing with their parts in the work.

 

4. Communication

Last, but not least, strong communication is essential for collaboration to be at its fullest. Keeping one another up-to-date about challenges and changes ensures that everyone is tackling the right job at the right time and with the right information.

When problems do arise, clearly and graciously naming the problem and talking together about solutions is the best policy. Pretending a problem isn’t there and not discussing is hurtful to the organization.

It is important to communicate affirmation in a working relationship as well as communicate about difficulties. Offering sincere and specific encouragement to one another contributes to a positive atmosphere in the organization.

 

Through empowering others to use their unique strengths, trusting one another to follow through, remaining accountable to each other and communicating openly, we can establish a strong working situation. We can then receive one another as gifts as we collaborate, working together with joy.

 

Read all the posts in the Receiving Others as Gifts series: