Loving Leaders with the Five Love Languages

but exhort one another daily, … – Hebrews 3:13a, NKJV
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works – Hebrews 10:24, NKJV

If you are familiar with Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, you are aware that Dr. Chapman identifies 5 specific ways that people feel loved.  While his book is intended for married couples, I have found that the same approach can be utilized to encourage ministry team members as well.

If you have a small team, investing the time to learn each member’s specific love language and applying that information can be very encouraging for them.  And for the team member that might be especially difficult to work with, or even to like, learning that person’s love language can help build a bridge of unity that might otherwise have been a line of division.

If you have a larger team, it can be more difficult to learn individual love languages.  Periodic blanket application can be just as effective.  Giving your team, as a whole, small tokens of each love language can help create the loving and supportive environment necessary for effective ministry.  Here are the five love languages with some suggestions[1]:

  • TOUCH: Hugs and pats on the back might be just the meaningful encouragement someone needs.  Always ask permission first.  If someone is uncomfortable with either of these, you can bet that is not their love language and it is ok to forego this with them.  If they do appreciate it, be sure to give them that hug on a regular basis.
  • QUALITY TIME: Take the time to meet one on one with each member of your team when possible. For small teams of 6 members or less, meeting with one member a month can go a long way for both you and that member.  If you have a larger team, identify 4-5 key members that you can do this with and encourage them to do the same with another one or two on the team.  This helps build team unity and promotes mentorship/discipleship.  Show a personal interest in your team member’s life when you do this.
  • WORDS OF AFFIRMATION: This is verbal encouragement.  Identify specific attributes in your team members to encourage. Isolating one or two positive things is much more appreciated and effective than a general “You’re doing great.”  You can give these words of affirmation verbally or by way of any written medium.
  • ACTS OF SERVICE: Do you serve your team members?  What are their needs?  Serving their needs in both their specific tasks and personal lives can be the very encouragement that makes them feel loved and appreciated.
  • GIFTS: Little tokens of appreciation don’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful.  Catch sales or free giveaways at conferences.  Seek and be prepared for the next holiday or birthday to bless your team members.

[1] Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages, Nashville, TN:  Lifeway Press, 2007.

~Lisa

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