Developing Relational Skills

Glenn Davis

Glenn serves as Associational Mission Strategist, for the Heart of Kansas Southern Baptist Association. He has focused on several of the proficiencies DOMs should build as they work toward moving their Associations forward in God’s work.

In 2018, the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders met just prior to the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas.  The SBCAL had put together a study team who brought a report to our meeting.  That report was a “fresh look at the time-honored work of associations within SBC life.”

One part of that report dealt with proficiencies which are needed by those of us serving in Associational Leadership positions.  The word Competencies has been used in the past.  This study team chose the word “Proficiencies”.

They broke those proficiencies into 3 categories: Foundational, Relational, and Strategic.  (More can be found on these proficiencies by looking for the Study Team Report at sbcal.org.  You can also watch for a new book on Southern Baptist Associations which is scheduled to be released this summer.)

I have been asked to write a series of articles to address the Relational Proficiency component for Missouri DOMs.

Before we jump into that topic, let’s try to put Relational Proficiency in its place.

Here is the way that I think about it.

Foundational Proficiencies

When I talk to a church about calling a pastor, I tell them that foundational is that selection process, there must be an assessment of character.  These are the character traits that we see in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

When I look at the Foundational Proficiencies component, I see a focus on Character and Calling.

Strategic Proficiencies

When I look at Strategic Proficiencies, I see a focus on Competencies.  What are the hard skills that are needed to do the work of the associational leader?

This includes skills such as preaching/teaching, seeing the vision and casting vision, and strategic leadership.

Relational Proficiencies
When I think about Relational Proficiencies, I think about the soft skills required to work well with people who are not obligated to work with us.

As associational leaders in Southern Baptist life, we do not operate with authority, but only with influence.

This role of associational leader is a unique leadership role, and I believe the uniqueness of the role calls for greater development of these relational skills.

As a local church pastor, I engaged those I led multiple times a week.  They would see me at meetings throughout the week.  They would see me in ministry settings such as hospital visits or counseling situations.  On Sunday morning, and throughout the week, they would see me preach the Word of God.  Preaching the Word of God in a way that recognizes the complexity and challenges of life builds high trust with those you lead.

But as an associational leader, I don’t see the people I lead every week.  I may not encounter them even once a month.

And, as an associational leader, my primary customers are not just people, they are pastors.  Influencing pastors is often more difficult than influencing people.

So, when you interact with the people you lead less often, and when you are leading leaders, relational proficiencies become even more important.

The third component involves the ability to understand and relate well to people.  These Relational Proficiencies include Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Supportive Coach, Authentically Vulnerable, and Vocal Encourager.  Competency in this area is needed if we are going to shepherd people well.  
We must love the people the Lord gives us to shepherd, but we must also act in ways that make them know that they are loved.  Paul told the Thessalonians that he cared for them like a nursing mother taking care of her child.  He related to them in a way that made them know that he cared.

In the articles that follow I want to address these Relational Proficiencies by considering five questions.

  1. How important are relational proficiencies?
  2. What does the Bible teach in regard to relational proficiencies?
  3. How can I evaluate my relational proficiencies?
  4. How can I develop my relational proficiencies?
  5. What are some things that undermine relational proficiencies?

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