Sparks of Purpose
Thriving — flourishing, prospering, and growing vigorously.
That definition of thriving is exciting! Isn’t that what we all want to be doing? We all have a mission, a purpose created for us.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:10)
As leaders, we share a responsibility to fan those sparks into flames...
Our organizations have missions, too. When a team member’s personal purpose aligns with their organization's purpose, sparks ignite. As leaders, we share a responsibility to fan those sparks into flames, encouraging employee engagement and creating a culture fueled by a shared motivation to serve that purpose.
A foundational 2017 Gallup report on the “State of the American Workplace” revealed that just 33% of US employees were engaged — involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. The majority of employees (51%) were not engaged and had not been for quite some time. And 16% of employees were actively disengaged, bringing others down with them. Employee engagement has barely budged over the past decade and a half.
Employee engagement happens when people feel like their core purpose is aligned with the work they are doing. They want meaningful work. When you can align people and work with the same purpose, then you get to a very deep internal motivation that’s like rocket fuel. It’s electric. When that internal motivation comes from a God-given calling, there's nothing like it.
Engaged employees make it a point to show up to work and do more work. Highly engaged organizations realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity, according to that same Gallup study. What could a productivity increase of more than 17% do for you and your organization’s mission?
Aligned with God’s Purpose
When their calling aligns with the calling of their workplace, that’s when the best kind of sparks fly.
We are called, we do our part, and God does the work. When employees follow their calling, engagement happens. When their calling aligns with the calling of their workplace, that’s when the best kind of sparks fly.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)
So what happens if you’re really fulfilled in the work that you do every day? What happens if everyone in your organization feels this way? It means you can make an even bigger difference in the world, and you can feel deeply inspired and accomplished while doing it.
It means you’ve created a purpose-driven culture.
Creating a purpose-led culture is vitally important because we are meant to be working together as teams. We are meant to serve in a culture that has people showing up and encouraging each other toward goodness. The Body of Christ works together, instead of just as separate parts.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.” (Heb. 10:24-25)
Patrick Lencioni addresses the different ways a team can fail to work together in his bestselling book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Jossey-Bass, 2002). If you cannot connect to your employees and connect to what is important to them, you will fail to create trust, which in turn can breed a lack of commitment and accountability. These key dysfunctions, if not addressed, cause a team to work against each other rather than with each other. This kills your culture, employee engagement, and ultimately your organization’s mission.
Lencioni notes the highest form of teamwork is a commitment to shared results. This goes beyond an individual’s commitment to personal results. When your team has a shared vision and purpose for the work they do, that highest form of teamwork comes to life.
Building Your Team
Ensuring your team members’ purposes are aligned with your organization's mission starts with intentionality. We have to purposefully weave our organization’s core principles into the fabric of all we do: in the organization’s structure, in standard operating procedures, and most importantly, internal communication. As leaders, we are responsible for helping team members understand the organization’s core principles, and for helping them connect their own personal purpose with that of the organization in meaningful ways.
You can initiate this understanding through direct, one-on-one connections. Make it a point to invite every team member to an individual lunch or coffee meeting. Or when pandemic strikes, schedule one-on-one video conferences (coffee-optional). When you invite team members into conversation about your mission, they can help you see your mission in new and different ways. This can reveal powerful insights about the strengths of your organization and its people. Team members can chart their course and pull together in the greater mission.
An engaged employee is a fulfilled employee because their mission, their work, aligns with fulfilling your organization’s mission. When this alignment happens, you will have created a purpose-driven culture where you will see your team thrive and flourish.
Mike Farag (CEO) and Debra Risner (Director of Brand Strategy) work together toward a shared purpose at Fervor, where they serve faith-led organizations across the country, helping them articulate their purpose, align their work, and amplify their reach. Find out more at createfervor.com or reach out to Mike directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.