How to Develop Friendship with Co-Laborers in Ministry

Investing in Those You Serve With

Part of the joy of ministry is that of enjoying it with fellow laborers in the work.

In the secular workplace, friendship with coworkers is often a corny topic. When your expected ambition at work is to support your family and perhaps also further your career, who cares if you enjoy time with your coworkers?

But the work of the ministry isn’t the same as the work of factory. Should not those of us who have a common bond in Christ also have a common strength in relationships?

Ephesians 4:3 says “yes!”

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.—Ephesians 4:3

If you desire unity of the Spirit and a bond of peace, you will have to take the first word of that verse as an action item. Friendship requires endeavoring. You must give it specific attention and invest your energy in it.

Healthy churches and healthy ministry teams have healthy relationships. How can we develop these friendships?

Walk in the Spirit

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.— Galatians 5:14–16

We all know that we should walk in the Spirit, but sometimes we forget the impact our yieldedness to or independence from the Holy Spirit has on our relationships.

Spiritual laborers remember it is not all about them. You will never have a great team when it is all about one person because self-focus interrupts team purpose.

Additionally, spiritual people yield to the inner promptings of God. Developing strong ministry relationships cannot happen effectively unless you are daily spending time with the Lord, nurturing your relationship with Him, and choosing to walk with a right spirit.

Remember the Cause of Christ

And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause?—1 Samuel 17:29

Colaborers in ministry are joined by a common cause. When each of us focus on this cause, it gives perspective to personality differences and personal grievances.

Not only is the cause of Christ greater than any one individual, but it is an eternal cause. When we mutually invest in it, we have mutual stake in a cause that outlives ourselves.

Make Much of Commitment

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 3:14

Strong teams have strong commitment. This includes commitment to the Lord, the pastor, the team leader, fellow laborers, the purpose of the ministry, and personal excellence.

When co-laborers share these commitments, there is a strength in their relationships with one another. It gives freedom to approach concerns or to encourage growth with the common goal of common success.

Cultivate Relationships with Purpose

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.— Ephesians 4:29

Few relationships develop without purposed effort. And no relationships remain healthy without action. Purpose to encourage one another in ministry.

Admittedly, some temperaments have more of a knack for encouragement than others. Some of us have brains wired in such a way that we are quicker to notice what needs improvement than to see the progress that has been made.

Nevertheless, we all can and should encourage. It takes some effort, but it is effort well-invested.

Be a Grace Giver

We love to receive grace from others, but we’re not always so quick to give it. However, relationships without grace are destined to corrode.

Many relationship differences could be easily settled if we would consistently follow the instruction of these two verses:

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.—Ephesians 4:32

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;—Romans 12:10

We should be gracious to forgive and gracious to give deference.

Communicate Effectively

We know that lack of communication contributes to lack of relationship. But how effective are we at remaining approachable for whatever communication the other party may need?

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.—James 3:17

Are you “easy to be entreated”?

Are you willing to “entreat” when misunderstandings arise?

In Matthew 18, Jesus commands us to privately restore relationships in which there has been an offense. But sometimes we’re too proud to let another know that we have been offended and to graciously ask for clarification.

Most potential conflict could be avoided with a spiritual and kind one-on-one meeting. So take responsibility for relationships with others. When a relationship goes bad, initiate action to be a communicator and a relationship strengthener.

Conduct Team Building Events

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.—2 Timothy 2:2

As you work with a team, be a person who invests in the team by inspiring growth in skills, creativity, and encouragement. Leaders obviously carry the responsibility to build up the team. But any team member can encourage the same goals by maintaining a team spirit and reaching out to others on the team with encouragement.

I like Zig Ziglar’s quote, “The only thing worse than training employees and losing them is not training them and keeping them.”

Train, plan, dream, and even create times for rest.

Enjoy the journey

The longer I serve with others, the more convinced I am that relationships are the stuff of life. Relationships are not the icing on the cake; they are the cake!

Invest in them. You will be the beneficiary.

May 06, 2013

Dr. Paul Chappell

Senior Pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church and President of West Coast Baptist College

Other Articles by Dr. Paul Chappell

Pastoral Leadership
Christian Living, Friendship, Leadership, Pastoral Leadership

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Dr. Paul Chappell

Senior Pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church and President of West Coast Baptist College