Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Filling Up Buckets

Written by: on May 30, 2013

This week for my D.Min assignment I was tasked with reading the book How Full Is You Bucket? By Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton.  Roam and Clifton’s thesis is simple: people are happier and more productive at work and in life when they are reinforced by positive feedback and settings.  Of course, this is a fairly obvious statement, especially for people working in Christian ministry.  Rath and Clifton employ the metaphor of a bucket that signifies our emotions and well-being each day.  For people to function well they need to have their bucket filled.  During daily interactions others come along and can either add to the bucket (filling it more with a positive interaction) or steal water through negativity.  Moreover, Rath and Clifton delineate specific ways to reinforce positivity intentionally.  Often in Christian leadership we forget to do the intentional things that really do fill up people’s buckets so that they know they are loved, appreciated, and valuable, and be motivated properly to continue their important service.  Here the authors list 5 strategies that can help fill buckets, and help us become more positive people.  They are: prevent bucket dipping, shine a light on what is right, make best friends, give unexpectedly, and reverse the golden rule.

Over the last week I attempted to purposefully put these strategies into practice both in a work setting and also in my family setting.  From this time of implementation I would like to make two observations.  Firstly, with close relationships and in particular with children, it can be way too easy to bucket dip, and much more difficult to fill buckets.  Specifically with family and children, it is really difficult to stay positive amongst the normal tensions of sibling fights, selfishness, and disobedience.  As a parent it can be all too easy to slip into a negative interaction when attempting to discipline and correct.  I am left attempting to seek a solution for this tension, in how to discipline in a way that has a more positive, bucket filling character.  Obviously there is a time for discipline, and this is important, but how do we maintain full buckets through it all.  Moreover, the issue of discipline and correction reminds me that sometimes we will have to deal with co-workers (potential bucket dippers themselves) where we need to step in and speak truth in conflict, or even discipline difficult people.

Secondly, I noticed that positive interactions are contagious, and not only help to fill up the buckets of others, but also myself.  This last week, I went out of my way to personally thank and also develop my friendship with certain co-workers (past and present) and volunteers in our ministry.  These interactions, whether facilitated by text message, email, or personal appointment, were all greeted by reciprocally kind words and thanks, helping to fill the buckets of all involved.  In other words, bucket filling is good for all involved, and can even be an essential part of creating a working community where bucket filling is the norm, freeing people up for productivity and success.  

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