Equipped for Action
My football coach barked, “Hey Walker, number 31, get your helmet on—you’re going in.” And just like that, I was in the game. Was I nervous? Yes. Was my heart beating out of my chest? You bet. Was I prepared? Absolutely – because my coach got me ready, and I was equipped for action.
The dictionary defines the word “equip” as “to make ready… to furnish for service or action by appropriate provisioning.” Equipping is the what. But how you equip varies by each individual and can be overwhelming to think about. And perhaps the best starting point is to understand the differences in generational tendencies.
- Founders (born 1928-1945)
- Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)
- Generation X (born 1965-1980)
- Millennials (born 1981-2000)
- Generation Z (born 2001-2019)
While these category names and birth year cutoffs are often debated, these seemingly arbitrary categories and dates hold common tendencies that need to be understood. (See www.generations.org.) Much has been written about the way generations learn, interact with society, prefer to communicate and perform at work.
At Joni and Friends, we have a rich history of investing in the individual lives of our diverse team.
At Joni and Friends, we have a rich history of investing in the individual lives of our diverse team. We start our new employee onboarding with an overview of the first of our four pillars of success — to lead like Jesus. In fact, our emphasis on Lead Like Jesus training is so ingrained in who we are that it has often been described as the “core operating system” of how Joni and Friends does ministry on a day-to-day basis.
Other efforts include: Development Academy; S.M.A.R.T. goals; and Biblical DISC so we can better understand each other and learn how we can work with one another more effectively with a biblical perspective. We use Canvas, an on-line learning platform, for some of our training for staff, interns and volunteers. Joni and Friends also encourages employees to complete the CCNL (Credentialed Christian Nonprofit Leader) program offered by Christian Leadership Alliance. To receive a CCNL credential employees participate in training through the Alliance’s Outcomes Academy Online and annual Outcomes Conference, both of which have featured Joni and Friends leaders as faculty.
Another equipping program we offer is the MasterLink Mentoring Program. These mentoring sessions foster personal, professional, and spiritual growth through small, focus-group interactions. These sessions also provide a wonderful opportunity to build new relationships while strengthening leadership skills. Groups meet on a mutually-agreed-upon schedule for eight sessions (two 1-hour sessions each month).
We have found that these shorter sessions better fit into work schedules and time-off requests. Group sizes are limited to eight to ten employees and are offered on a “first-come-first-served” basis. Although anyone who has learned life lessons can pass the precepts along to another who is open to learning, we have found that employees are most receptive to groups that are led by our directors and executives.
Joni and Friends also encourages an “open door policy” where every manager’s office door is literally open to every employee. The purpose is to encourage open communication and ongoing coaching about any matter important to an employee.
In my decades of experience in Human Resources, one of the things I have found is that I never repeat the same day twice. That also means that I rarely finish a task from start to end without an interruption. But my perspective on that was changed by a quote by Henri Nouwen who said: “I have always been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I slowly learned that my interruptions were my work.” That’s it. Having that perspective speaks volumes to every individual who calls you on the phone or who appears in your office doorway.
But before I forget, let’s go back to mentoring because there is one point to make absolutely clear. Mentoring is the willingness to invest your life into another person by providing encouragement, guidance and experience so this person can grow, improve and make a difference for the kingdom of God. Jesus modeled it best. Jesus first demonstrated ministry, then he did ministry with the disciples, then he sent them out, two-by-two, to do ministry.
And that’s life. Just like I experienced in that football game back in the 1970’s, you’ve got to be prepared for the game of life because you only get one shot at getting it right. Glorify God in everything you do. Focus on your team. Expect the unexpected (and that also means making sure your replacement is already established and ready to replace you). It is important to understand that it is a leaders’ job to equip others for ministry, but it is the Saints’ job to do the ministry. And in following Jesus’ command, we are to go and make Christ-like disciples.
Roby Walker, PMP, SPHR, is the Vice President, Human Resources for Joni and Friends, an international nonprofit organization that serves families affected by disability. With over 35 years of HR management experience in healthcare, state government and nonprofit organizations, Roby is well-qualified to serve Joni and Friends in this role. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from Lee University and a master’s degree in Human Resources from Webster University.