Anna works with refugee teenagers who pass through her country on the way to Western Europe; she wants training on how to build a truly cohesive team and deepen their capacity for empathy and compassion for the frightened people they serve.
Marcus is grieved by the jealousies and judgments that divide evangelical pastors in his Eastern European country and desires to be voice for humility, repentance, and reconciliation among his peers.
Marek leads a ministry that works in 40 prisons in his country. He wants to learn how to teach relational wisdom to the 200 people on his team so they can turn around and model and teach RW to both the inmates and the guards in the prisons they enter every week.
Dania loves to share the gospel with university students through her campus ministry … yet she feels like a hypocrite because she has little desire to be reconciled with her estranged sister.
Peter and his wife form one of five related teams of missionaries who work within 100 miles of one another in the same country… but seldom get together because of unresolved differences.
These are just a few of the stories that Chip and I heard while teaching and mentoring at the European Leadership Forum (ELF) in Poland last week. These stories illustrate the urgent need for …
Blending Hard Skills and Soft Skills
The reason that ELF invited Chip and me to participate in this conference is that they understand the importance of both “hard skills” and “soft skills.”
Each year ELF brings together some of the finest pastors, theologians, and seminary professors in the world. They are highly skilled at hermeneutics, exegesis, preaching, and evangelism.
But the leaders of this conference realize that these technical (hard) skills are not enough to prepare pastors and ministry workers to fulfill ELF’s vision to “renew the biblical church and re-evangelize Europe.”
To be successful in their vital ministry roles, church and ministry leaders must also cultivate relational (soft) skills, which include the capacity for listening, empathy, kindness, encouragement, teamwork, problem-solving, and peacemaking.
This is why ELF asked Chip, me, and several other gifted counselors to provide a variety of workshops on relational topics–or as Jesus would put it, on how to “love God with all our hearts and love our neighbors as ourselves.”
The response to this teaching was exhilarating. We taught five days in a row, engaging pastors, church planters, counselors and ministry workers. At every meal we met with people who wanted specific guidance on how to apply RW to specific relational issues in their lives.
We’ve already been asked to do two new webinars for the ELF network. More people are signing up every day for online training. And we’ve been invited to return to five countries for extended live training.
As the 700 men and women who attended the conference use what they have learned to improve both their hard skills and their soft skills, they will be better prepared not only to preach the gospel and refute the lies of unbelief but also to model the love and compassion that reflects the presence and relationship-transforming power of Christ.
What About Your Church or Ministry?
The relational struggles we heard about last week are not confined to Europe. Chip and I have seen them in churches and ministries throughout the U.S. as well as in Asia, Africa and Latin America. As we often say in seminars, “Where two or three come together in Jesus’ name … there will soon be conflict.”
So why not use this summer to improve your relational skills, as well as those of the other leaders and people in your church or ministry?
Just think about how training in relational wisdom could make you more effective at serving God wherever he’s placed you … whether at home, in church, in an office, or on the mission field.
Whether you learn individually or study as part of a small group, you can raise your relational skills—and those of any church or group you’re in—to a level that expands your ability to reflect the love of Christ.
– Ken Sande
- How much time and effort have you devoted to developing your “hard skills,” whether for gourmet cooking, piano, golf, math, teaching, business, or health care? How much time have you devoted to deliberately developing your relational skills?
- How might improving your relational skills actually enhance your various interests and life callings?
- Why should Christians be especially committed to improving their relational skills? (see John 13:34-35; John 17:20-21). How can relational skills enhance our witness for Christ?
- If there was one relational skill you could improve in the next three months, what would it be: God-awareness, God-engagement, Self-awareness, Self-engagement, Other-awareness, or Other-engagement?
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© 2015 Ken Sande
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