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8 Ways to Bring the Gold Out in People

Oct 15 2014

One of the joys and challenges for me in 15 years of being a pastor — especially with highly creative or artistic people — has been how to see their unique giftings, talents, and abilities brought into a bigger team or community context. Highly gifted and talented people can sometimes come in and bring conflict into an established team (with an already established normal), due to their radical ideas. And on the flip side, an established community (with established normal ways of doing things) can sometimes ostracize the highly gifted for not fitting in with the team’s existing systems and structures.


In light of that, here are eight simple things I’ve seen that help bring the gold out of some of the most unlikely of people, whilst still bringing them into community in a way that helps, not hinders:

1. Pray and ask God who He would like you to work with
(Told you they were simple)
One of the characteristics of a great team is that there is variety of personality, passions, life experience and worldviews, whilst still being united around a common cause. It’s pretty natural to bring and choose people to be “with us” who are very much like us. But I’ve found that often the people that God would have me work with are not the people I would have naturally chosen … rather they are people who, when we all work together, cause US all to live out our potential stronger than if we were apart.

In Luke 6:12 we read, “Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles.” (NLT)

If Jesus did this, it must be good for us to do as well ☺

2. See the value that different people can bring to the team
I have worked with numbers of people who had worked or volunteered in previous places where things did not end well. I’m sure most of these situations had something to do with the people who were now in my care, and often it didn’t take long to see why this may have been the case! However, this should still not take away the truth that these people have unique gifts and talents that still have the potential to be used in the right environment. Seeing the value of someone first for who JESUS has made them to be, and then for what they can bring to the community is a big step in bringing the gold out of people.

3. Approach people with a clear invitation to be involved
Highly gifted and talented people can sometimes be viewed as undisciplined and unfocused, yet there are other areas (often based on their gifts and talents), where they are extremely focused. When we approach people with a clear invitation to volunteer in a specific area, with a specific need, and specific expectations and tasks to achieve, we will more than likely have these people respond positively to us!

4. Bring them into your world
Small groups are a great place to get to know people and build into them outside of their areas of gifting. In our own small group, we’ve gotten to know more of people’s family of origin, their belief systems, their strengths, successes, weaknesses and failures. Trust is built over time with both parties in a setting like this, as well as wonderful memories built around the Word, prayer, joy and food! In a work or volunteering setting, bringing people into certain meetings they would not normally attend to present a new idea or initiative, or bringing a different perspective in a debrief setting can also bring positive results.

5. Commit to discipleship and mentorship
As the leader or an influencer, I want to be able to view the process with my team as an opportunity to point them towards Christ-likeness, and to use moments of success, failure, courage, and correction as teaching moments. This doesn’t just have to be in a one-hour private coffee meeting, (although that’s good too sometimes).  It can more often be in our normal day-to-day dealings, keeping Jesus central in all we do — in the way we think, speak, and act — and leading our teams purposefully toward living more like Jesus in the using of our gifts and relationships with each other.

When there are moments where Christ-likeness has been missed, a simple teaching moment or conversation in grace and truth (but NOT too intense) will help create the environment we are all desiring in our teams!

6. Have “tell me more” as part of your regular language
Some of the greatest creativity in any team will come about in the most normal of conversations. Most of these don’t happen in a meeting, but in ‘hallway conversations’, as we call them. When you hear something that peaks your interest, simply use the phrase “Tell me more about that…” Instead of asking questions that can tend to have dead ends or a rabbit trail of conversation, “tell me more” about something specific can open up people’s creativity and ability to solve problems!

7. Allow them to disagree with you in an appropriate way
I am certainly not the be-all and end-all of leadership, creativity or problem solving… but there are moments when I do know certain things are going to work in a team that others cannot see. And yet I have also been saved from making a bad decision or from settling for a good idea instead of a great one, when people in my team knew they had the freedom and permission to disagree with something I have suggested. Yes, there is a balance here and yes, there can be people who will push hard for certain things from their own agenda. But if this can be navigated maturely, there’s plenty of place for people to bring an alternate point of view in an honouring way — this can only lead to better outcomes for the team!

Jesus is Jesus; I’m not! I am living the best I know how to, and at the same time I am going to make mistakes… I’m going to let people down, I’m going to miss the gold inside someone sometimes… I can either lament over missed opportunities or I can ask the Holy Spirit to help me be engaged in each moment of my day. I’m finding more and more as I’m WITH people, giving my best to them in focused attention, with a listening ear and encouraging word (not with an iPhone in my hand ☺ ), that I am unlocking the gold of giftings, talents, and ideas that is laying inside every person I’m with, waiting for the opportunity to come out!

So, LOVE PEOPLE the best way you know how today, with a passion to love better tomorrow, and watch the gold come out of your people and give glory to God that He would choose in His kindness to use us in building His Church!!

Much love,
Aran Puddle
(Hillsong College Creative Streams Director)