Unfettered Fun With Your Staff – Special Olympics Style

Dodridge on a shelfFor several years, I had the opportunity to chaperone the annual Special Olympics dance at the Summer Games. It was greatness. Thousands of Special Olympian athletes on a football field, loud music, unfettered dancing, and fun.


No pretenses. No wondering, “Is anyone watching?”

Everyone, including this chaperone, had a great time (but no twerking was involved).

While I’m not necessarily suggesting your church’s staff should have dances, I am suggesting you have fun together. For each staff, fun will look different. But as a leader, you’re either going to allow for it, or suppress it. Those who work with you have to know they can have fun without fearing “the boss”.

Mind you, no one is ever going to mistake me as “the fun guy” on our staff, but I do hope to allow for and participate in fun.

This past December, someone began posting photos of a little character on the church’s Twitter and Facebook. The character was given a hashtag, #DodridgeOnAShelf. Whoever started this had placed my likeness on the little elf who rules homes with mischievous behavior every day in December. Typically, our social media accounts are used for official communications. But for a few weeks, our church’s followers would see #DodridgeOnAShelf doing something funny each day. I didn’t directly encourage it, but our work environment allowed for it.

If you take yourself too seriously as the leader, it will negatively impact your team. The people on your staff work with you too many hours, for their organization not to allow for some fun.

The leader’s role in organizational fun:

1.       Allow it

It shouldn’t be over the top, nor should it replace the work of your mission – but periodically, it should happen. And the fun should cause you to be a little tense (if it causes a leader to be slightly tense, it’s probably just right amount of fun for everyone else).

2.       Encourage it

Sometimes you’re going to have suggest a fun idea, and ask others in your church to be open to it.

3.       Participate in it, at times

Nothing says you’re not on the team more than standing in the proverbial corner of the dance floor with a curmudgeon face while everyone else dances.

4.       Create it

You may have to fund (or ask for funding), to literally create fun moments. Parties, scavenger hunts, whatever… Get help with the details, but do your part to create fun moments.

5.       Schedule it

If you’re serious-minded person and could work 80 hours every week, then you’ll likely miss all the fun and relationships unless you schedule it. Schedule 15 minutes in your day to walk around and have fun with people. Make fun of their cubicle décor, tell self-deprecating jokes (previous blog on that topic), or challenge a staffer to a Ping Pong game.

Fun is when you can be yourself without pretense, and enjoy the company of those you work with. There’s work to be done, but I’d propose that in a fun environment, more work is going to get done.

One last story of how fun was had at my expense when I took myself too seriously…

In my first ministry job as an intern at North Phoenix Baptist Church,   I tried to impress those I worked for, with my ability to accomplish work. Apparently, my supervisor thought I was too serious about this. He initiated some fun.

In a nonchalant way, he dropped a note on my desk with a phone number and said, “This is the retreat center hosting our summer camp this year. Call them and ask about their dress code, so we can pass the info along to the students.” Like he knew I would, I picked up the phone immediately. A person answered with the name of their center, but I was focused on getting the information I needed. I began, “I’m Brian Dodridge, and I serve with North Phoenix Baptist Church. We’ll be at your retreat center soon, and I need to know your dress code.”

Awkward pause.

“We have no dress code, we’re a nudist retreat center.”

I sank in my chair. I heard commotion behind me, and turned to see a small group of people peering over the cube trying to restrain their laughter.

As a leader, often you’ll be responsible for infusing fun into your environment (even if it sometimes it comes at your expense).


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