Guest contributor: Cyndee Ownbey

Last week I made my bi-annual trek to the Horticulture Class Plant Sale at our local high school. I purchased two beautiful hanging baskets, flowers for the pots on our front and back porch, and several vegetable plants and herbs for our square foot garden.

And so begins the daily task of assessing and tending to the needs of my plants – watering them, pulling out the weeds, and applying fertilizer. Each plant requires consistent attention and care to thrive. Just like the members of your team.

Sometimes after all the work of securing a new team member we sit back and rest – letting nature take its course. Because praying for and seeking out new team members can be exhausting. Yet we’re called to nurture each team member so they will thrive while serving on our team and so they can continue to grow in their relationship with Christ.

As I think about the parallels of nurturing my plants and nurturing team members I’m reminded of two specific verses. 1 Thessalonians 15:11 tells us to “encourage one another and build one another up,” and Hebrews 10:24 instructs us “to stir up one another to love and good works.”

Just as water is poured out upon our plants, we must pour out words of encouragement upon our team members!

For those of us who don’t feel we have the gift of encouragement, we can take a few lessons from the garden. Just as there are a variety of fertilizers, some more effective than others, there are a variety of ways we can nurture our team.

  1. Be specific. Compliments should be personal and specific, not something that could be cut and pasted in an email to the whole team.
  2. Write it down. In the hustle and bustle of an event there’s a good chance that your words of encouragement will be forgotten. Take the time to send a text, email, or even a handwritten note, specifically thanking your team member(s) for loving your women well.
  3. Keep it simple. When compliments are paired with a question or criticism, we tend to focus on the negative and forget the positive. Follow-up with a suggestion or question later. Let this note be one they want to hang on the fridge.
  4. Be genuine. Be known for being sincere and honest. Insincere compliments reflect poorly upon the character of the deliverer and lead to feelings of distrust. If you’re struggling to compliment a team member ask God to open your eyes and soften your heart.
  5. Identify and gently pull any weeds. If we allow weeds such as sin of unforgiveness, bitterness, envy, or gossip to fester and grow within our team those weeds will choke out the good work that Christ is doing through us. Attend to those weeds quickly and swiftly.

May God give us wisdom to nurture our teams well so that each member can grow and flourish thus extending the reach and impact of the ministry God has given us.

Deeper Still: What are some ways you help your team feel valued and cared for? How do you let them know their contributions matter? Leave us a comment below.

Cyndee OwenbyCyndee Ownbey is the founder of Women’s Ministry Toolbox (www.womensministrytoolbox.com). She shares women’s ministry tips and ideas gleaned from years of serving on three different women’s ministry teams in three different churches. A wife and mother of two teen boys, Cyndee looks forward to harvesting the bounty from her garden this summer.

About JoAnn Fore

After homeschooling an overactive grand-daughter each day, Jo Ann downs a healthy energy drink so she can freelance as a writer and coach. Passionate about women confidentially living their purpose, she is the author of When A Woman Finds Her Voice as well as a certified LifePlan Coach.