Everyone needs to feel valued. It is a part of our humanity, an inborn need to know that we matter. As children of God, working together to build His kingdom, extending value to one another should come naturally. After all, we stand on the belief that God valued us enough to sacrifice His Son Jesus on our behalf. Romans 5:8–we were still sinners, enemies, rebellious, and God loved us. God extends value in the ultimate way by his provision for us to enter into relationship with him, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf. However, understanding that doesn’t always translate into extending it. Selfishness, neglect and ignorance get in the way.
This section of the theory training for MAST translators and leaders is an effort to do away with ignorance and provide solid tools for extending value to members of our team. Let’s talk about five avenues through which wee can show others that we really do value them.
Five specific ways of expressing value to others:
- Honesty: Honesty is defined as: fairness, straightforwardness, the quality of being truthful. So how does honesty express value? Let me share a brief story: Years ago my husband and I were in youth ministry in Florida. Three of the seniors in the youth group had been developing some troubling behaviors over their high school years, dappling with drugs and other dangerous activities. No one seemed to know how to address these kids. Some adults had the attitude of, “They’ll grow out of this; it’s just a phase.” Others tended to think, “Their influence is strong. They could lead others astray. We need to control our youth group environment to minimize their impact.” My husband decided to invest in these boys and to be honest with them about what really matters in life. He invited them to our house for a Bible study! I admit, I thought the idea was crazy. But they came. And they kept coming. He challenged their thinking about life. He told them that their behaviors were not just “immature” or “foolish,” they were wrong and damaging. He challenged them to consider the future and took them to tour a Bible College. Today, all three of those boys are graduates of that Bible College, walking with God and serving him in their communities. Honesty demonstrates value because it assures the receiver that you care about him enough to stop him living out of a false place. It gives him the confidence of knowing the truth. Honesty can be expressed in the form of addressing error and misconceptions, but it can also be expressed in the form of pointing out an obscure or unknown truth. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Tremendous freedom comes when truth is revealed.
- Praise: This is more than just offering a compliment–“I like your dress.” This is actually taking time to acknowledge and appreciate something about a person. All of us need to feel appreciated. Words of praise cannot be general or flippant. In order to really express value the praise must be specific, and it must be genuine. Praise must be accompanied by honesty! Honoring someone for their hard work, their investment, their contribution is a way of expressing to them how much they are valued. It is important that the praise is about more than what they have done. It must be expressed in a way that says “Who you are is amazing” not just “What you did is amazing.” As a child I discovered the joy of writing. I wrote short stories, poems and diary entries faithfully. I didn’t really know if anything I wrote was worth reading, but it gave me such a sense of purpose and satisfaction to write that I wrote anyway. I will never forget my ninth grade literature class in which we did a unit on creative writing. I loved every assignment! But what sticks out to me was my friends’ reactions to our “open reading” when we shared what we wrote with the class. They loved everything I wrote! Their praise of my writing rings in my ears to this day. They said to me, “You have an amazing gift for writing” not simply, “What you write is amazing.” It propelled me on a path to pursue writing not just as a hobby but as a way of connecting with other people and honoring God. Praise empowers people to live out the gifts and talents God has given them.
- Common Interest: You’ve felt it before. That instant when you’re getting to know someone and you discover something you have in common–a sports team you both support, a place you’ve both lived, a project you’ve been invested in, a restaurant, club, church, school or other community you have both been a part of. Whatever it is, this common ground creates an instant bond. There is a sudden escalation in the relationship because now you have something of value in common. We can actually seek out and create common interest in order to build value into those on our team and deepen our relationship with them. I don’t mean make something up! Rather I am suggesting we engage in a treasure hunt. Finding something of common interest can sometimes require some digging. It can also mean taking an interest in something simply because someone you esteem is interested in it. I first developed an interest in the work of Bible translation because my mother-in-law was a translator! It became a common interest for us and to this day she is one of my mentors and counselors in the ministry I’m involved in.
- Serving Others: Jesus demonstrated this powerfully when he washed the disciples’ feet. Then he told them, “Here’s an example for you to follow.” The example continues; the power of Jesus’ own servant-hood is what gives us the capacity to serve others. Philippians 2:5-8 gives a poetic and gripping description of Jesus’ choice to be debased in every sense, for the joy of redemption. Isaiah 53 tells us, “When he sees all that is accomplished by his suffering, he will rejoice!” Jesus rejoices over the debasement he experienced because of the fruit borne in our lives. Serving others does mean a humbling of ourselves, and Jesus’ humiliation on our behalf is what makes that humbling possible. Some have followed in his footsteps serving others by giving their very lives. But what about the daily serving of the mundane? The power of mundane, monotonous service cannot be overlooked. It is within those little acts that we confirm to individuals on the team their inestimable worth in Christ. Picking up trash, playing with children, clearing tables, chauffeuring people around and a myriad other opportunities for service arise at a MAST workshop. We cannot miss these opportunities for infusing value.
- Protection: This expression of value is like a shield–the shield used by medieval soldiers to protect themselves in battle, and also the shield of the modern day police officer that signifies purposeful protection of the week and the victim. We show someone how much we value them, how significant they are to us, when we step in the way of fiery arrows and act as a shield to protect them. This takes sacrifice on our part. It requires using our resources, skills, and capacity for the good of another. And, not surprisingly, Jesus is again our example. When he was arrested in Gethsemane, he said to the soldiers, “If I’m the one you are looking for, then let these men go.” He boldly spoke up for his followers. As leaders of MAST workshops, it is a significant act of protection to shoulder the responsibility of mishaps and distractions without placing blame. Of course not everything that goes wrong is our fault, but we can accept responsibility and work towards a solution for these disasters instead of trying to find someone else to blame. That is a part of protection. Protection also means that we won’t overload individuals with more than they can effectively handle. We will not ask of them more than they can give. We need to build in our team the confidence that we are with them, we are for them, we are invested together. Offering protection in this way affirms to them their value as a person, not just as a contributor to the project at hand.
These five avenues for expressing value will go a long way in building up a team, and creating a godly environment. Consider the following questions:
- How have others expressed value to you?
- Which of the avenues speaks most clearly to you?
- Do you think personality types affect how we receive expressions of value?
- Where have you seen these expressed in MAST?
- Where do we need to see more of this?