But what if that moment is not failure, but an invitation to collaborate with others? Christianity is a collaborative way of life. We all need others. Collaborate and together you will conquer the difficulties you were never meant to face alone.
Working definition of this leadership concept:
To collaborate means to cooperate and work with others. Christianity is not an individual enterprise. We are all gifts to one another, even—no, especially—when we see things differently.
Benefits for leaders who practice collaboration:
1. Every leader fears hitting their limits; collaboration means our limits are catalysts to invite others into the project.
2. Collaboration also brings together a variety of strengths—no one is good at everything. Collaborating means we can leave the stuff we struggle with in more gifted hands leaving us free to do what we excel at doing.
3. Collaboration increases our connection with our audience. Those with different perspectives can see where we are blind, have had experiences we haven’t had and can identify with people in our audience.
Benefits for the community where the leader leads:
1. Collaboration increases connection with our collaborators (co-laborers) – and we can use all the unity we can get!
2. Collaboration gives more people opportunities and experience. In this way, collaboration builds up the body of Christ.
Biblical inspiration and support:
Paul writes in Romans 12: "3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness." (Romans 12:3–8 ESV)
Christians are a body of many members. Each member is valuable and has contributions to make. All members need to be vitally connected to one another and cooperate with each other for the good of all (Ephesians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 2:7).
Paul wrote to the Romans about being “mutually encouraged” (Romans 1:11-12) by one another, and he invited them to partner with him in an upcoming mission to Spain (Romans 15:24). Paul saw the Roman Christians to whom he was writing as collaborators and partners.
The radio show, Survival Skills for Everyday Living, was collaborative from beginning to end. Lisa Troyer from Circle of Friends secured the meeting with the radio station and presented the idea of doing a show in Michigan like they were doing in her home state. I attended the meeting and, as the local person, I became the spearhead of the show in my home state. Once the pitch was accepted, the show required a rotating round table of women leaders. I immediately invited in a friend of mine, Tami Walker, who is great at making connections with women from a variety of life experiences, and together we built the team of women who would be the panel for our round table discussion. Each one of them brought insights neither Tami nor I would have had. The show was helpful to the audience because of the depth of collaboration. I would not have thought it up myself; I needed Lisa. I could never have made it happen myself; that required Tami. And I could never have made up those conversations myself; that took the team. And it was a blast!
Practical application ideas:
In an improv comedy class I attended, they taught us a game called “Yes, and...” It's a two person game. The first person sets up the situation, giving cues to the second about where they both are (at the movies, carnival, zoo, work, etc.), how they are related (friends, co-workers, family, strangers, etc) and/or what they are doing (climbing a mountain, eating, building a kayak, etc.) So for example one could open with, "Hello cousin Luke, imagine bumping into you at the zoo, and wearing a bear costume!" Whatever your partner says, you have to respond with “yes… and…” continuing the story you are acting out together. This means you have to accept what they are saying and build on it. On and on the story goes as you build it together. It’s a great exercise in learning to collaborate. Try it out at a gathering or family dinner.
Take a moment to reflect. Take 20 minutes somewhere quiet and ponder these questions:
Consider attending the Speak Up Conference. It’s a great place to meet other people who are speaking, writing and leading as well as build relationships and get new perspectives. I have met amazing new friends and collaborators through my involvement with Speak Up. An earlier version of this blog article appeared in the Speak Up Blog in July 2021. With the help of Speak Up your next collaborative enterprise could launch next July.
Recently I realized that I have tried for years to get “strong enough” to post blog articles without feeling vulnerable and ill at ease, to no avail. I shared my struggle with a mentor and she invited me to consider asking others to form a team offering me feedback instead of trying to “toughen up” on my own. I implemented her suggestion and now have a team of trusted friends who are helping shape these articles before you read them with the twin blessings of better articles for the readers and more peace of mind for me. Go collaboration!
How have you collaborated with others?
Hi! I'm Jeri Howe.
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