I’ve been in partnership with many different people and countless organizations over the past 25 years. In some ways, I would even call myself some kind of an “expert” in partnerships. I know how they work and I see great value in the collaboration that comes from a good partnership, but I am also learning that great damage can come from unhealthy partnerships. I’m not sure I’ve really understood the risks, however over the past year I’ve seen a number of partnerships dissolve, and I’m still trying to figure out why this happened.
I remember years ago when I was serving as a youth pastor how excited I was to hear that other churches in our community wanted to partner together to reach the larger population of young people, and we shared together how if we worked together, we could impact these kids! I then remember month after month how disappointed I got when I showed up to our meetings and only 2 other guys showed up. What happened to the other 15 leaders that had just shared their desire to partner? Why didn’t they see the value? Month after month we trudged along, and we actually were able to do some significant things, but imagine what could have happened if ALL of us would have come together and done what we said we would do?
I’m learning that there are 2 major issues with partnership:
First, a good partnership has to have a foundation of trust and honesty at it’s core. If you can’t do what you said you would do, say it. If what you committed to do is beyond your ability, then admit it. When there’s trust and honesty, partnerships have the ability to grow and expand. One partner can help you in areas that you’re weak, but if you’re not willing to share that vulnerability, then how can they help? Partnerships will never work unless there’s a solid base of trust and honesty.
Second, a good partnership has be Kingdom focused. This means that it’s not about you, your abilities and what you bring to the table. It has to be about the greater cause, it can’t be about building your own kingdom, but building His Kingdom! Over and over again, partnerships fail because we selfishly want to promote our own agenda, and we don’t realize what we could really accomplish if we focused on the big picture.
There’s much more to healthy partnerships, but this is a start.
Where are you at in your partnerships? Do you even want to work with others?
If you do, then start with these 2 issues and work them out in our own mind and heart before you get involved with others. Then, look for others that share these 2 issues with you. You will form partnerships that will not only be effective, but these partnerships will encourage you, build your ministry & organization, and you’ll build relationships that will last!
Recently I ran into one of the guys from our small network of youth pastors. It was so fun to reminisce and talk about all that we were able to do together because we had trust and our commitment was focused on His Kingdom, not our own.