The curling brown edges of the very last plant in my apartment were hardly encouraging. Plants grow best when they get the right combination of light, water, temperature and nutrients. And I had been somewhat negligent on the water side!
People grow best when they experience the right combination of ingredients as well. In the book, How People Grow, authors Henry Cloud and John Townsend discuss how grace, truth, and time are critical ingredients for personal growth. Grace means acceptance and peace with God-no condemnation. Hebrews 4:12-13 describes our situation…”Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” That is a scary, vulnerable and dangerous thought apart from the grace of God! The reality is that He knows everything about us and still is for us.
With God, we are free to pour out our real life needs, struggles, celebrations and failures and still be accepted. That is the reality we have with Him. He instructs us to create that same environment with each other. “Instead, we will speak the truth with love, growing in every way more and more like Christ…”
That means we step back from judging each other and move toward being compassionate and building each other up. Truth-telling is done in the context of what is best for the person, not what is best for the teller. Incidents of ugly behavior are forgiven; patterns are addressed. There is encouragement and inspiration toward Christ-likeness, rather than satisfaction with the status quo.
Growth is not instantaneous; it takes time. Time is an important factor, but not sufficient by itself to create change. A good growth environment requires all three ingredients to be present and working. People need to know that they are loved and accepted, that they will hear the truth in a loving way, and that they will be given time to develop.
Group or team leaders and team members can cultivate the environment.
Here are some things anyone can do:
* Greet people warmly; give time for building relationships.
* Be willing to be vulnerable.
* Empathize with others as they share hurts, needs and struggles.
* Honor confidentiality.
* Support each other in achieving goals.
* Foster a safe environment by helping the team define and live out guidelines for team behavior.
* Address patterns of behavior that are problematic and holding the team up in a gentle, non-judgmental way.
If you’re seeing your team with “curling brown edges on the leaves,” think about what ingredients might be missing and how to supply them. Hopefully, these three ingredients will give you a way to enhance the growth environment on your team!
On any given day you might find Andrea in a meeting, on a plane, or in some part of the world where she meets amazing people and sees just a few of the awesome ways that God is working. She serves as the Global VP for Leadership Development and HR with Campus Crusade for Christ. When she’s home, she enjoy books, time with friends and occasionally gets to the beach.