Could it be that any place where we may experience insecurity is a place we have not yet experienced what it means to be safe, secure and protected in that space? Often when we think of insecurity, we think of ourselves or others who may not be comfortable in our own skin, comparing ourselves to others or afraid to be who we are, afraid to take risks, or over compensate to make up for areas we feel lack. I would say it's a basic human need to know true safety, security and protection. God placed us in the context of family with this very intent, that this most vulnerable and dependant would ideally grow in an environment of safety and protection. I'm not taking about bubble wrapping, cotton balling, helicopter, avoidance security that is really fear in disguise. But rather the kind of security that causes contagious courage and the fullness of self uninhibited to be revealed.
Our Father Himself is protector, refuge, fortress, strong tower, defender, rear guard... we can find shelter in the shelter of His wings... Holy Spirit our counsellor and comforter. Our primary position of security is in the relationship with our Lord. We know this, we grow in this and therefore live this out better as we go. However, we as members, leaders in the body, do not always do the best job at creating spaces of safety, security, and protection for the more vulnerable and dependant on us. Again I'm not talking about pandering to needs and whims, but an environment where there can be healthy risk taking and personal growth. This has become my 'one thing' when it comes to leadership and team development, likely because it is the thing we probably right now need more of, and I seem to have the same conversation from different folks coming up over and over. Their wrestle being something akin to this, "I have been told I have permission to step out, but I don't know if that is really the case (mainly from experience) and I am scared that if I take a risk and fall on my face, not only will I look stupid but it will get in me trouble". If you don't understand, you will read this as the individual just has to overcome their personal fears. Yes fears are involved, but why? Risk is just that, risky. There are no guarantees when it comes to risk of a perfect outcome, it can't be a risk otherwise. Some risks may be ones we take on our own, but when we are part of the development and leadership of other people, we need to create relational environments that cultivate the risk and growth we hope to draw out of people. We can be good at spotting potential for greatness and talent, but drawing out the fullness of it to flourish in confidence can be another matter.
People need opportunities to grow in - security environments. As they grow and experience this, then when in situations where they are less secure or more exposed, they would have already had the training ground experience to feel secure enough to stand their own, probably still a little shook by the fact, but able. Recalling on their personal history of growth in risk to pep talk them into "you got this...even if you fail...you got this".
So what are the elements needed to provide a security dynamic within our teams?
As leaders we can't just say to people you have the permission to step out, to take risks. Most people, because they have voiced as much to me, want to believe this is true but the conviction of it's truth just isn't there for them. I'm sure that those who have said it completely meant it as well. So what's the gap? For starters, we are a generation that has grown up in a culture that has enforced the need for permission when trying anything new, risky or a little different. I even just think about the amount of permission slips I have to sign as a parent these days for my kids to do or not do anything in the name of security. More likely partly security for the individual, partly security to cover themselves if any venture goes awry. This type of permission can actually create more anticipation on the participants that something is bound to go wrong, so we better cover our bases by controlling as much of the outcome as possible. Then we fear the outcome, decide the risk isn't worth the potential embarrassment and stick to what we know. Yet ironically still desire to see people step out and step out ourselves, but talk ourselves out of it. Why? Because what if we do put ourselves on the line and no one is there to catch us when we fall? We may have been encouraged and permitted to step out, but we don't have the trust that those calling us higher will catch us or pick us up again if risk looks a bit messy. We want to trust that this isn't our once in a lifetime chance to take a risk with expectation to get it right, and that if we don't quite get it (whatever it is anyway) that we will be afforded many other opportunities to take numerous risks again.
Trust. While trust falls might be fun team bonding, it's not likely to develop the needed level of trust for good leadership dynamics that grow risk takers. We do this through investment into relationship. People need to see you trust them as people and that they can trust you to care for them as people over their performance. They desire a security that has their backs, sets them up for a win as much as they possibly can, and that won't shred them to pieces or count them out if their risk doesn't pay off immediately. Then there will be assurance in what you say is really meant, they can safely assume you have their best in mind for them.
As leaders we also need to mean it when we say we trust them to try. We can't micromanage their risk taking, otherwise we are just crisis controlling potentials, removing all this risk - and the trust in the person - from the opportunity. There needs to be the freedom for the person to be comfortable in their own skin without us trying to formulate them into the version we think they should be or the outcome we think should be produced. Support practically, encourage and assure where there are doubts, be honest kindly, offer helpful suggestions, provide perimeters where necessary, steer clear of your reactive responses, then leave them enough room for their risk. Preferably enough room that won't make them feel rushed or panicked in the process.
As leaders, also manage and communicate your expectations, that includes valuation of ourselves based on results of our teams/communities. Don't have exaggerated expectations on them they fear to measure up to, that will definitely squash any desire for risk taking and security. Let your expectations be reasonable and achievable disciplines and values focused, rather than performance driven. There should be both team expectations and individually crafted expectations as we work together as one, but are also diverse in our oneness and capacity. Allow communications of expectations to be without putting the pressure on anyone, and also that they have a chance to communicate their expectations to you of what helps create an environment of security to risk for them.
A few years ago we took a small team on a ministry trip. Most of the team were use to working together and with us. We knew they were very capable and we were use to giving them plenty of room and security for risk and the anointing would flow beautifully through them, spilling into the atmosphere when they did. I also knew their inner selves didn't like to be directed in what to do so much, and because we trusted who they were we didn't need to. We only needed to provide the opportunity mostly for them to take some risks, many risks of vulnerability really I think were taken on that trip and one can hope that it was because there was the security in relationship and God to do so. Yet we had one freshie to our team, where I think for her every dynamic of trip was constant risk taking, even as confident a person as she is. Though she inwardly wrestled at times, I was so proud of her for every risk she took, it was stunning to witness and partner with. the concept for her of family security with each other verses it's all on the individual self was a new concept to her. But also one that we as a whole team needed a reminder for our need of one another. To me this was my highlight moment of the trip, as we sat together as a team chowing down on pizza, being honest (through tears) with our present needs and how we could help see them met for one another. To me that is real beauty. It wasn't until we were back on home turf again where our beautiful freshie shared something that profoundly taught me something new. Where the others were happy to not be so 'managed' in my leadership of them (for want of a better word), she however had been desiring for me to just tell her what to do the whole trip. This really surprised me because she is a very capable, strong and independent person, so I had falsely assumed she wouldn't want me managing her movements. But for her in an environment of taking so much risk, the safety, security and protection that equated to personal confidence the most desired more boundaries, perimeters, instruction and general support.
This is where we as leaders can forget in a team to also consider needs and expectations individually as well with creating a secure dynamic for risk. And also we can't afford to presume either. Some of the most confident people can also be some of the most comfortable, in regards to the regularity or familiarity of their day to day experiences they are comfortable and confident with because of experiencing the consistency and thus security now in that. But then pop them into an unfamiliar situation or setting for the fist time, and you may have an insecure fish out of water. It isn't primarily that they are an insecure person, you have just removed from them everything that they once knew as a secure environment for them, rather than an unknown one. They don't what or who they can fully trust here yet with themselves and need the protective and nurturing support.
I think the body tends to default to the truth churned cliche we just need to trust God and do the thing, whatever the risky thing may be. Sure sometimes we may well be at the point where we just need to do it. But even our trust in God is something that we grow over time. That is not to say He isn't 100% all the time trust worthy, He completely is. But building and understanding of that trust takes relation time, some more than others. We trust Him, but at the same time we are learning what that trust really looks likes, and we are building a history of trusting Him. Our relationships with one another are alike. We need to be able to bank some trust bucks with folks, and as we do it compounds in interest over time. Our past trust history with others can influence trust in our future relationships, so not everyone leaps to trust quite as quickly as others. But if we can cultivate environments and people of security, the trust wounded will find much healing in these places and people.
Let's discuss this one... What are some practical things you do or have done, or ideas you have to create an in - security culture in your team dynamic? And GO...