Partnership Potential

Baptists need to work together, that is the beauty of the Cooperative Program. We can do so much more together than we can do alone. Works for people, churches and denominations. Paul mentions partnership in the New Testament:

Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. (Philippians 1:4-5)

Partnership is the ability to accomplish more together than apart. It recognizes that a team is stronger than an individual. A group committed to each other will help the struggling and those who have fallen.

  • Mother Teresa said, “You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together, we can do great things.”
  • An anonymous author wrote, “It is better to have one person working with you, than three working for you.”
  • Andrew Carnegie confessed, “I owe whatever success I have attained, by and large, to my ability to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am.”
  • John Wooden, perhaps the greatest basketball coach of all time, reminded his team, “The man who puts the ball through the hoop has ten hands.”

Call it whatever you want–teamwork, association, synergy–partnership is the remarkable ability of two or more people working together to accomplish more than what each could do alone.

This truth is an appropriate reminder to God’s people that when we are working together in harmony, the talents and gifts of the body minimize the weaknesses and shortcomings of the body, thereby making a stronger unit (1 Corinthians 12:14). Just as a baseball team needs nine players on the field or the game is forfeited, the local church needs everyone participating, or the strength of the body is weakened and the advancement of the gospel is threatened (1 Corinthians 12:26). If you took away one musician from an orchestra, the symphony would be incomplete. So, too, if one member of the family of God is missing, the church is incomplete.

We need each other. You need someone, and someone needs you.

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The Biblical Basis of Supervision

Following up on the States of Supervision, my friend Glenn Prescott developed this study as an example of Jesus modeling the different states of supervision.

Jesus was intent on equipping men and women to make a significant impact throughout the world they were called to touch.

  1. Structure provided the foundation out of which all ministry would grow.
  2. Cooperation provided the understanding that ministry was conducted within the boundaries of the community of faith.
  3. Fellowship provided the understanding that ministry was nourished in the depth of a personal relationship with the Master.
  4. Partnership provided the understanding that ministry should be taken to the next level and that there would be no limitations on what could be accomplished.

Jesus provided the biblical basis of supervision as He poured His life into the lives of His disciples. As supervisors, we should pour our lives into those we are privileged to serve.

(Focal passage: Luke 9:1-6, 10, Other passages: Mark 6:6-13, 30-32, Matthew 10)

1. Structure – equipped, authorized, sent out – Luke 9:1-5 (also see Matthew 10)

  1. Calling – Jesus called – they accepted (Luke 9:1)
  2. Gifting – Jesus gave – they received (Luke 9:1)
  3. Commissioning – Jesus sent – they went (Luke 9:2)
  4. Instructing – Jesus told – they listened (Luke 9:3)

2. Cooperation – teamwork, united ministry, sent out by 2’s – Matthew 11:1, Mark 6:6-13

  1. Working on a team
  2. Working with direction
  3. Working with a partner
  4. Working under authority

3. Fellowship – report, spend time together, rest – Luke 9:6, 10, Mark 6:30

  1. Disciples worked – Jesus blessed (Luke 9:6)
  2. Disciples returned – Jesus received (Luke 9:10)
  3. Disciples reported – Jesus cared (Luke 9:10 and Mark 6:30)
  4. Disciples and Jesus withdrew – They rested and refueled (Luke 9:10 and Mark 6:31-32)

4. Partnership – evaluate, results, go on their own, duplicate – Luke 9:1, 10

  1. What did I do?
  2. How did I do?
  3. What did I learn from this experience?
  4. What do I do to take this to the next level?
  5. Where do I go from here?
  6. What do I do to encourage others to follow (not just you)?

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The States of Supervision

The states of supervision describe the development and quality of working relationships between the supervisor and the supervisee.

The States of Supervision

People in working relationships pass through four states in this order: structure, cooperation, fellowship and partnership. They cannot decide arbitrarily to start out in the second, third, or fourth state. They must begin in the first state. A person cannot set dates to be at certain states, but can recognize a move from one state into another. The states are not absolute but are mixed so that after leaving state one, a person may revert to it (consciously or unconsciously) from time to time. People who are conscious of the states can move through them more quickly than they might do otherwise.

The states are bound by task/personhood. For example, in state three, the fellowship state, supervision focuses on personhood. In this state, personhood, not tasks, is the primary concern.

Many supervisory relationships stop prematurely in one of the first three states. People may find a particular state productive and refuse to change patterns, or they may find one especially comfortable. Each state matches the experience, history or natural inclination of the supervisor. It may take diligence for the supervisor and supervisee to move through the states appropriately. A problem may develop when people have an idealized concept of states. They may see supervision as what they experienced in their families or in an earlier vocation. They may idealize the supervisory relationship as being non egalitarian or autocratic. The supervisory relationship is never egalitarian, because the supervisor is always held accountable for the supervisee and must, in turn, hold the person accountable. However, since there are various levels of non egalitarianism, it does not have to result in an autocratic style.

The Structure State:
This is a task/task state, which has high structure. It is characterized by the supervisor outlining responsibilities, resources, and methods for doing the work. It is a “tell” state in which the supervisor tells the person about the tasks. Getting locked into this state is tempting when it is productive. However, if the person is to mature in the work and demonstrate initiative, supervision must move out of the structure state. This state is good for a beginning, or short term (a week or so), responsibility or for a person who is not ready to function independently. If the person is capable of growth and responsibility and the task is ongoing, the work relationship should grow beyond the structure state.

The Cooperation State:
This is a task/personhood state, where the supervisor moves from telling in the structure state to asking in the cooperation state. It is a “sell” state where the supervisor must determine if the supervisee is buying into the system and if he/she understands his/her role. In this state, the supervisor begins to take the personhood of the supervisee into consideration. By this time, the person has learned about the structure and the responsibilities and has demonstrated commitment to the work. The cooperation state allows him/her to take more direct responsibility.

The Fellowship State:
This state is bound by personhood/personhood. Leaving the cooperation state for the fellowship state may be difficult because the fellowship state is very person oriented with a tendency toward intimacy, and intimacy may be especially difficult when it is part of supervisory relationships. This is the “jell” state where the relationship between the supervisor and supervisee really starts to come together. The fellowship state may be the idealized state that many ministers envision about any relationship. The fellowship state is a productive time of planning and evaluating tasks. Only when the choice has to be made between person and task will there be an impediment to the task.

The Partnership State:
The partnership state goes back to personhood/tasks. This is not regression, nor is it the same as the previous task/personhood state. Because the person has been highlighted in the fellowship state, there is increased respect for and trust of the person when entering the partnership state. This is the “swell” state where this trust translates into increased responsibility for the supervisee. The partnership state is not the cooperation state revisited. In the partnership state, the supervisor makes the person a partner in the project, not simply someone who cooperates. The new partnership state makes the person a partner who has a voice in decisions and has greater ownership of plans and actions. Sometimes supervisors in the fellowship state fear moving into the partnership state because they must give away some control.

Using the States to Supervise:
When a new person arrives, begin the structure state with the highest structure you will ever need. This is an opportunity to help the person define roles and responsibilities. It is unrealistic to expect the person to begin in any other state. When a friend becomes your assigned supervisee, you can still have a close personal relationship, but you should define your supervisory relationship carefully. A problem develops with the states of supervision when the supervisor has several supervisees. Because of different levels of maturity, training and previous relationships, they may move through the states at varying paces. New supervisees will take more time to move than supervisees with tenure.

A person in an early state of supervision who does not understand the dynamics of the states may think the supervisor is playing favorites or may feel inadequate. When supervisees interact with each other, they can take into account the states of supervision and help new people move through the states. A situation or a crisis may necessitate moving back into an earlier state, even to the structure state. When the crisis is over the supervisory relationship can return to its previous state.

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