The Work of Supervision

I used to work at the International Mission Board Office of Mission Personnel; mainly reading missionary wannabe applications, and then selecting and preparing candidates for overseas service. One main issue in sending short-term personnel overseas (two to three years) is the topic of supervision. Here is a lot of information out of Doran McCarty’s book called, Supervision: Developing and Directing People in Ministry. This post is an introduction.

Contents of this Series:

  1. The Work of Supervision (below)
  2. The Definition of Supervision
  3. The Art and Science of Supervision
  4. The Models of Supervision
  5. The Covenant within Supervision
  6. The Covenant Process in Supervision
  7. The States of Supervision
  8. The Supervisory Conference
  9. The Biblical Basis of Supervision

What’s the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear the word supervision? Answers range from “an administrative chore” to “a boss” to “controlling” to “time consuming” and the list seemingly goes on forever. It takes effort to change that type of thinking. However, if people are the focus of your work, remember that those you supervise are people, too.

Supervision is a work comparable to everything else you do. Supervision can strengthen the life of the person in your care through the attention and support you provide. Supervision extends your work. With appropriate supervision, employees are extensions of your work as you share your goals with them.

Some businesses point to their employees as their most important resource. Support personnel, undoubtedly, are important components of your system. They provide help in the work of the your team. If employees become burned out or used up, the team may suffer the loss: the loss when goals are not met and the loss of integrity because of a supervisor’s insensitivity to their needs as people.

The supervisor should ask, “What is the object of my work of supervision?” Is the object a program or a person? Every supervisor is either program oriented or people oriented. Balance is most difficult. An administrator administers a program but a supervisor supervises a person.

If the supervisor’s central focus is on the program, he depersonalizes the personnel and makes him/her an errand runner rather than a fellow worker. The supervisor’s work is helping the employee fulfill the task to which they have been assigned. Your focus is not on the task, but on the person. The employee’s focus on the task.

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