Interpersonal Leadership: Communication
“Communication Tasks and Functions” (SL#45)
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® 7.3
- Interpersonal Communication
In Christian leadership and life, interpersonal communication
is always dependent upon its central message--the love of God in Jesus Christ
toward all people. That love should shape the context and content of communication
in ministry leadership.
Theory and Function:
Not to oversimplify, but as you examine your biblical and practical tasks and
functions, consider how a communication theory may view functions/tasks:
- To gain and give information
- To provide feedback on that information
- To build a context for better understanding
- To establish identity within a social process
- To meet human need at different levels
- To affect human behavior
To repeat, Mary Ellen Guffey states in her text, Business Communication,
that communication is the “transmission of information and meaning
from one individual or group to another. . . . Communication has as
its central objective the transmission of meaning.” (p.11)
That should filter as well into every Christian ministry task mentioned below;
Meaning is our foremost communication function.
Although we may have different roles and positions, many of us do have similar
tasks in our personal life and even in our ministry tasks. To the extent that
we consciously identify our tasks, we step toward improving our communication
behavior. The following list focuses on work, but you may add your own work
and personal items that demand communication skills. Be sure to season generously
with “please,” “when it fits your schedule,” “thank
you,” etc.; that also communicates meaning.
Communication for Ministry Tasks and Functions
- ____ giving instructions:
Always post the hospital/prayer list by 9:30 A.M.
- ____ supervising employees:
Finish your work goals for the next six months; then let’s meet
tomorrow at 1:30 P.M.
- ____ directing volunteers:
At least five of your committee members will need to meet in Room 106
every Monday at 9 A.M.
- ____ counseling/guiding/comforting:
That’s a tough problem you’ve shared; I’d like to help
you work through the issues and options. Let me hear what you have thought
- ____ building trust/confidence:
You’ve got a great idea about debt reduction. After we discuss it
together, I may want you to share it with the Finance Committee.
- ____ nurturing fellowship, “hanging out”:
Let’s eat together Wednesday night at dinner and catch up on your
- ____ sharing information:
I’ll fax you the full report, but the five main points are: 1),
2), 3), 4), 5).
- ____ making appointments:
Can you meet at 9 A.M. Tuesday (5/20) here at the office? Please bring
- ____ mentoring/coaching/team building:
Look at these options with your team and advise me what to do.
- ____ convening small groups:
It will take the four of us about one hour (7-8 P.M.) on Thursday to finish.
Please call the other two.
- ____ witnessing/testimony:
May I share with you briefly what I believe about God’s love for
- ____ fact-finding, idea structuring:
The research clearly leaves us with a set of significant facts--and then
a few doubts.
- ____ coordination, channeling, planning:
We’ve done our part; now, let’s pass it along to the Grounds
- ____ negotiation, bargaining, compromising:
Of the two final options, can we move toward one we all support?
- ____ evaluating programs/performance:
On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give our outreach/evangelism program a
7 for concept but only a 3 for participation/results.
- ____ training/skill development:
Here’s how we do this now; don’t make any changes until we
look together at improvements.
- ____ business contracting:
We accept your proposal just as it is in your 5/20/06 letter.
- ____ influencing, motivating:
The way you lead your team is a model for all of us to follow. Keep up
the good work.
- ____ delegating, assigning:
Finish the staff retreat plan for our review on Monday (5/26).
- ____ enlisting, orienting:
Would you please help me for the next six months with the worship evaluation/planning
- ____ decision-making:
Before we decide, survey your departments for their level of support.
- ____ staff meetings:
Our meeting will be about one and one-half hours, and we have collected
six items for the agenda before you.
- ____ team meetings:
Our job for the next three days is to feed about 1,000 daily in the Jackson,
Tennessee, storm area. Pass this along to your team volunteers.
- ____ correcting, disciplining:
We must find a way never to leave the children unattended; help me with
- ____ other, with your task list.
Praising, honoring, celebrating, etc.
- Re-read the list and consciously think about your life and each task. Assess
- Which four to six of the communication tasks have the highest impact on
your life and work?
- What personal tasks do you need to add to the list?
- Which ones do you do well? (____ mark with 1 to 5)
- And honestly choose your own “improving place”; example: “I
will share more significant information with the committee as the members
discuss their recommendation to the congregation.”
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Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership