January always brings an interesting challenge for XP’s. As we return to the office from the holidays, we begin to realize anew that the gang needs us to lead them, once again. Circulating through the halls, we encounter all the great stories from the holidays—the great time with family, the endurance test with relative so-and-so, the food, the enjoyment of the lack of pace, and so on. As an XP we may wonder, as we sit down at our desk, “When do I start driving the staff towards the vision again? How can I get them re-engaged in the mission of the church?”

The first few weeks back in the office are unique times for any organization. Leaders walk the delicate balance of helping the crew re-engage yet not coming across as a task master. After all, we just celebrated Christmas and we have to wait an entire year for it to return. How can we get the most out of this unique time of year?

The following are some reminders that you might find helpful as you re-engage the staff and the ministry.

Make sure you have heard and told the stories

Story telling is a great way to connect with people. Post holiday story telling is a vital ingredient to fostering relationships in a community of people. Many of us are wired to lead others to “get to work” but not at the expense of missing an opportunity to value others. If you have a good group of people, they will get the job done and will naturally finds their way back to focusing on what they need to be focusing on. As XP’s, we need to be the one that helps people tell their stories. January staff meetings should provide opportunities for people to share their slice of the human experience. Invite the group to bring pictures. Ask them to tell the favorite gift they gave. Be sure to lead the way.

Ask good “thinking” questions

January is a great month because it naturally lends itself to strategic thinking. This transition month facilitates our mentoring function because we can ask leaders focus-questions. As a suggestion, ask each leader you work with the following questions: What would you say was your biggest contribution to the mission of the church last year? What is something that you really wish had been accomplished last year that did not happen? Where did you see God work in your life and in your ministry last year? What are the big things you are going to work hardest on during this next year? What changes are you asking God to make this next year in your area of ministry and why? How can I do a better job this year in helping you fulfill your leadership responsibilities?

Be sure to share your answers to these questions as well. Believe it or not, you are human. They know it and it helps when they know that we know it. Also, you may want to write down their answers to help you pray for them and serve them.

Try something new to enhance your relationships

Just because we are near the top of the org chart does not mean we are the world’s best at relationships. All of us have room for improvement. January lends itself to trying something new. For example, let’s suppose you want to pray for each staff member more often. At the conclusion of a staff meeting or at a one-on-one meeting, close in prayer and then keep doing it for the rest of the year. People expect change with the New Year. Take advantage of it. No need to make a big deal but seize the opportunity. January is all about transitions. Make those changes in your leadership that you know you need to make.

As XP’s, we bear the responsibility of not only leading others but of leading ourselves. We must press ourselves in the area of personal development. The better we become at leading and serving others, the better the ministry experience for those who follow us.

Do you want your staff to have a Happy New Year?

Do the hard work of becoming a better leader.