‘Love & Respect’ for Church Techs
March 18, 2017
If you have been a Christian for any decent amount of time—and a married Christian for that matter—you have probably been introduced to Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. He is the author of the popular marriage book, Love & Respect. His teaching is based on a biblical truth found in Ephesians 5:33. He states that for a marriage to be successful—and biblical—the husband must love his wife, and a wife must respect her husband. It is an equal imperatival and unconditional giving to one another, regardless of what you receive—or do not receive—in return. These two items, love and respect, are the root desires of the male and female in marriage. He concludes that friction in marriage is caused by what he calls the ‘crazy cycle’: When a husband does not receive respect from his wife, he will act in a way that is perceived as unloving to her; likewise, when a wife does not receive love from her husband, she will act in a way that is perceived as disrespectful to him. And around and around we go until someone decides to jump off the ‘crazy cycle.’ Notably, negativity will never provoke the other person to ‘shape up’ and offer what he or she truly needs. My wife and I have been going through this study in small group, and even though it has been edifying to our marriage, I cannot help but to also see parallels for church techs.
I believe that church techs have a deep desire to have their craft respected by the church leadership. Similarly, the church leadership has a deep desire to know that church techs love the people and leadership of the church more than their craft. I propose that there is a ‘crazy cycle’ that church techs and church leadership jump on, stay on, and provoke one another to. It however looks like this: When a church tech does not receive respect from church leadership, church techs act in a way that is perceived as unloving to church leadership, and when church leadership does not feel church techs love the people of the church more than their craft, church leadership acts in a way that is perceived as disrespectful to church techs. The tension caused by this can have similar affects in church relationships as in marriage: bitterness; a lack of communication; hardened hearts; and ultimately separation and moving on from one another.
Dr. Eggerichs goes on to explain that the core desires of each are neither unreasonable nor in conflict with the other, just different. Martially he adds, men see the world through blue lenses, while women view the world through pink glasses. In this way, church techs see the world through blue/black [respect/gear] lenses, and church leadership see through red/green [love/budget] lenses. Neither is wrong, just different. Different core needs and responsibilities for each one’s respective roles in order to be successful.
I propose that when church techs feel respected, they will not care nearly as much that they cannot purchase all the gear they ‘swore’ they had to have. They will find creative methods to make their situation work. They will not become bitter over long hours, because there is an understanding that the role is essential to showing love to the people of the church. Church techs will make things happen for those who show care and respect for them and their craft. Biblically, however, it is not acceptable to wait until respect is shown in order to love. You are to do the things that demonstrate love to church leadership and the people of the church, regardless of how they react in return. Yet, assuming that Dr. Eggerichs is correct, the opposite of the ‘crazy cycle’ is also true: when church techs act in a way that is loving to church leadership, church leadership with reciprocate by acting in ways that are respectful to church techs. This does not mean that when you act in a way that is loving that you then eventually get everything you want—that motivation itself would be unbiblical—but rather, you will receive the one thing that is most needed, respect for who you are and what you do. I argue, that itself is more valuable than any budget line-item or early call time. Likewise, I believe the lack of receiving respect from church leadership is the largest factor in tech director burnout and high team member turnover rates.
Two major differences exist, however: (1) in the church relationship, all the power is in the hands of church leadership; and (2) it is not an eternal covenant.
Even though church techs have a responsibility to show love unconditionally and submit to their leadership (Hebrews 13:17), church leadership owns a greater responsibility (James 3:1) to respect those under their authority, treating them fairly and justly (Colossians 4:1). In this way, mitigating strife between church leadership and church techs is ultimately the responsibility of church leadership through demonstrating the respect to those whom they are called to shepherd in the tech ministry. Nevertheless, church techs must behave in a way that demands respect, being above reproach, bearing the burdens that come with loving the church leadership and the people of the church, just as Christ demonstrated his love to them.
In marriage, the covenant is eternal. Divorce is not an option. This is not the case for the church-tech–church-leadership relationship. Church techs have the ability to remove themselves from leadership who do not demonstrate respect. Likewise, church leadership has the right to remove church techs who do not demonstrate love. Having been on both sides of the employer-employee relationship, there is no worse feeling than the eggshells of a working relationship that is about to implode. It is most always best on both sides—financially and relationally—for the person and the organization to attempt to mend differences. However, it is important to remember that both jobs and churches are their people: they are their culture. Whichever side of the employer-employee relationship one is on, there is a church culture that will be a perfect fit for both the church tech and the church leadership. When that day comes to walk away, love (and/or respect) those who invested into the relationship while it lasted, dust off your feet, and move on to love and respect the next church and/or church techs. And right now, qualified church techs are in much higher demand: there is a church ready to respect the craft.
With that being said, I am not advocating a mass Exodus of church hopping. Like I said, mending fences is always the best option, and any strife that exists had to be created by both parties. Therefore, I challenge those currently struggling with their church leadership to heed Dr. Eggerichs’ words: change your motive from wallowing in the daily challenges—whatever they may be (gear, budget, hours, lack of volunteers or staff, etc.)— and lack of feeling respected. Instead, focus on demonstrating unconditional love to those who are the overseers of you and the people your church serves. Love the mission of your church, and see how the church leadership begins to view your role differently. Rather than being ‘that guy’ in the back who grimacingly runs the sound booth, be the guy who is loving on the congregation through the production of sound and light, graciously perfecting their craft without grumbling. Love on your team, love on the congregation your team effects. Love like Christ. The respect you desire for all you do is waiting for you to earn it. You have the power to end the church-tech—church-leadership ‘crazy cycle.’