Safety is a foundation of growth. As leaders, one of our first goals is to create environments where people feel (and are) safe. You know what it means to be with someone who is safe. You know they have your best in mind. Their first inclination isn’t to judge you. Your words are protected by them. They do what they say they will do.
Quick ways to make things unsafe
- Critique, correct, diagnose, or fix someone in front of everyone.
- Tell someone else’s story for them.
We can be at peace, knowing that as leaders…
- We have not been called to fix every problem.
- We have been called to be with people.
- We have not been called to make sure everyone is right.
- We have been called to be accepting and loving.
People often feel safe when they know what to expect – the trust that the leader is going to do what they say they are going to do.
One way we make our gatherings safe is by making them predictable.
Predictable doesn’t mean dry and boring. It doesn’t mean that spontaneity isn’t allowed. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. It means you do what you say you are going to do. Let them know upfront that you have actually thought about this before. Then, communicate it. You don’t have to go minute-by-minute, but explain what can be expected at your gathering.
For example, you could communicate details like these in advance: “Our House Gathering will meet every Saturday from 6-8 p.m. Each person will bring a dish to share and we will provide sodas, desserts, and coffee. We will start the Mill City worship and teaching video at 7 p.m., once everyone has finished dinner and has a cozy spot. For the last 20 minutes of each gathering, we will engage in one question and pray for one another. We are asking that everyone wash their hands when they get here.”
Is spontaneity one way people grow? Yes. But we earn the right to be spontaneous in a relationship. Our goal as leaders is to grow with people – not to wait for people to catch up to us.
People who are coming to your gathering want to know: what can I expect of you, and what will you expect of me? In light of this – I usually start things off this way: ‘We’ll be done around 8. We won’t make you pray out loud. And we won’t do Bible trivia.”