What are your Terms of Engagement?

I keep having conversations with worship leaders that are thriving...except for one or two sticky relationships.

You know, the kind of people that might make your team better... simply by not being on it?

(Ouch)

It’s our responsibility to shepherd the people on our teams, to speak to the treasure in them, not the trash. To truly love them and help them steward their gifts in way that maximize their effectiveness.

There are leaders who have no problem giving ultimatums, having hard conversations, and taking definitive stands.

Then there’s the rest of us. We love people. Or at the very least, we really want people to like us.

Each of us have our own "terms of engagement" - rules, standards, and conditions that must be true in order for us to thrive serving. The trouble is that we don’t always realize that we have them, let alone what they are.

I heard Brené Brown say "Clear is kind, unclear is unkind" in her audiobook Dare To Lead.

Clarity is everything. 

My question for you is this: What are you willing to live with?

Not in the worst-case-scenario way, but in the most-weeks-for-the-next-ten-years way. What are you ok with?

See, many of us draw our lines (literally) in the sand. I know the phrase refers to our boundaries, but think about the last time you drew something in the sand. How long did it stay there? A little water, a little wind and there’s no trace even left.

We are often over-flexible.

Our boundaries are often that way. We’re trying to be nice. Trying to be flexible. Trying to be loving. Trying to be inclusive.

Those can all be good things. And they live well with being clear and having boundaries.

Next time you get together with the person to work on your not-yet-fantastic relationship, ask questions like:


  • What do you hope comes from our conversation?
  • What do you expect changes from now on?
  • What would have to happen to feel like your line got crossed?
  • What would need to be true for you to feel truly energized to serve?
  • What are your personal rules for engagement - what conditions are you willing to serve in - what are you ok with?


And before you sit down to process this, do some work on your own and articulate the same for yourself:

  • What do I hope comes from this conversation?
  • What do I expect changes from now on?
  • What would have to happen to feel like my line got crossed?
  • What would need to be true for me to feel truly energized to serve?
  • What are my personal rules for engagement - what conditions am I willing to serve in - what am I ok with?


Three great resources to help you grow in this skill:
Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson
Dare To Lead by Brené Brown

Hey it’s not worth it to struggle on with draining relationships just because we’re trying to be nice. And it’s not ok to just cut people off because it’s too hard to work through stuff with love and clarity. Things don’t have to get dicey. There’s a better way.

-Dave