There’s a story in Exodus 17 of a time when Israel were at war against the Amalekites. The Bible tells us that “as long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but when he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning” (Exodus 17:11).


Of course Moses couldn’t sustain this on his own for long, so his trusty team stepped in to help:

“When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset” (Exodus 17:12).

This is a tremendous picture of how to live as a leader under authority. We want to be like Aaron and Hur for our senior leaders; team members who help carry the weight, not add to it. But how do we do that?

Well, last month we spoke about the first three ways: the importance of being emotionally centred, creating more solutions than problems and being teachable. What follows are seven more ways we become a joy, not a burden, for those who lead us.

“There’s nothing that lifts a leader’s spirit quite like a team who are engaged ”

4. Be passionate

The best team members don’t need motivating because they have an inherent passion for the mission of the team. When leaders see this in you…deep joy!

There’s nothing that lifts a leader’s spirit quite like a team who are engaged – body, mind, heart and soul – in the shared mission of the team.

When this passion is within you, your senior leaders don’t have to motivate you to work hard, you choose to work hard because you care.

They don’t have to ask you to contribute in meetings, you choose to contribute out of the overflow of your heart.

Conversely, team members who are simply showing up and taking a pay cheque are a drain for a senior leader, because they have to work really hard to ensure your apathy doesn’t demotivate the rest of the team. Apathy and passion are both infectious, so which are you bringing into the room?

5. Lead yourself well

The best team members don’t take a lot of managing because they lead themselves. This means senior leaders can be present to help, guide and encourage you, rather than solve your problems for you.

But when you fail in your self-leadership, you make your problem their problem.

For example, perhaps you have had to take time off work because you’re tired and have become ill. If the source of this is a sickness bug, no problem, we all get poorly from time to time!

But if the source of this exhaustion is that you have been repeatedly staying up to the early hours gaming, or have been spending your time off scrolling through social media and watching Netflix, rather than engaging in truly restorative and replenishing activities such as exercising, going for a walk or bike ride, connecting meaningfully with friends and family, enjoying a hobby or interest like playing an instrument, cooking, painting, playing sports, working with your hands or reading a good book, then your failure to lead yourself has caused your leader a problem.

Worse still, you may even blame your senior leader for your lack of self-leadership, suggesting that they are asking too much of you. 

Now, it may be that your senior leader is actually asking too much of you. Sadly, this happens in the world of church and ministry way more often than it should and, if that’s you, I’d encourage you to follow the appropriate lines of reporting and accountability to proactively address it.

However, before you do, take a moment to reflect on your self-leadership patterns to ensure you’re not passing the buck of your personal responsibility onto those who lead you.

6. Show initiative

It’s a burden for a senior leader when you don’t do anything that they haven’t explicitly asked you to do; when you twiddle your thumbs awaiting the next instruction to be passed down from on high.

If you do this, you are expecting your senior leader to do your thinking for you. But that’s not their job, it’s yours.

Team members are a joy when they take initiative: generating new ideas, creatively engaging with solutions to problems, thinking logically about what needs to get done and proactively innovating in the direction of the mission of the team. So don’t just wait, initiate!

7. Be engaged

It’s a joy when a team member is consistently engaged. When the team prays, they pray. When the team talks, they talk. When there’s a job to do, they pitch in and do their bit.

They are always forthcoming, quick to participate and do so with a spirit that evidently wants to be involved.

On the other hand, disengagement can show itself in a number of ways. Again, it can look like being quiet and withdrawn, it can reveal itself in facial expressions and body language, and, most destructively of all, works its way to the surface in cynicism.

The cynical team member is the one who only has something negative to say. This can be in the form of cutting remarks, but will often reveal itself as sarcasm, which is just cynicism masquerading as humour.

But cynicism is cowardly – a way of trying to communicate your discontent without actually saying it. Cynicism is poison for you, damaging for the team and burdensome for your leader. Get rid of it.

8. Say: “Leave it with me”

There are no sweeter words for your leader to hear than “leave it with me”. Without doubt, the team members who are the greatest joy for me are those who I just know have got it covered; that once they say: “Leave it with me”, I know with certainty they’ll get it done to a high standard and on time!

I try to lead Limitless in such a way that my leader never has to worry about it. I want him to have absolute confidence that I have the youth and kids’ ministry covered; that he can ‘leave it with me’ and feel totally assured that our team will deliver with excellence.

So if you want to be a joy for your leader, say: “Leave it with me” and then come through on your promises!

9. Become competent

It’s obvious, I know, but team members who are a joy are good at their job! They are competent, consistently delivering work at a high standard. They don’t need a lot of steering from their leader, because they are highly capable leaders in their own right.

Team members who are incompetent require a lot of time and attention from their leaders to ensure the standard of their work reaches an acceptable level.

This is draining, both for the team member and the leader, as constant corrections are exhausting for everyone involved and can cause the relationship to fray.

10. Put your hands up, not your head down!

It’s a burden for a leader when a team member is regularly reticent to take on responsibility. It puts the burden back on the senior leader to get things done themselves and causes them to feel hesitant about asking that team member to do anything.

Yes, there are times when your plate is full and you are legitimately unable to help, but this can be communicated in such a way that your leader knows this is a product of circumstance rather than a default attitude.

Conversely, senior leaders love team members who put their hands up, rather than their heads down, when there’s an action point to assign! When able, they are willing to help outside their direct area of responsibility, pitching in where they can. These kind of proactive, make-it-happen, can-do kind of people are a tremendous blessing to every leader.

We don’t always see it, but our senior leaders are carrying a lot. There’s a pressure to being the person with whom the buck stops that is unique and sometimes lonely.

So, let’s ensure we are not adding to the heavy burden our leaders are already carrying. Let’s be Aarons and Hurs. Let’s embody these ten principles and become team players who are a joy to work with.