On more than one occasion, I have observed social service agencies that have shown resistance to newer agencies that develop to help the community with unmet needs. There are food banks that show resistance to charities giving away food and shelters that meet resistance from others, for fear that funding sources may shift to accommodate the newer group.

Instead of having a shared responsibility to care for the community, some work within a silo mentality.

Silo Mentality in the workplace occurs when people specifically conclude that it is not their responsibility to coordinate their activities with peers or other groups. With this mindset, people have little interest in understanding their part in the success of the organisation as a whole.[1]

It is easy to protect your own interests to the neglect of the mission for which you were formed. There is something desperately wrong with this mentality when it prevents greater good from happening in the community.

Closely related to Silo Mentality is ‘NIMBY’ (Not in my back yard). A NIMBY is ‘one who objects to a project, especially one intended for the benefit of the public, such as a school or a landfill, being sited near one’s residence.’[2]

Sometimes, these same attitudes prevail within a local church. Someone will have a particular role or job in the church and jealously guard their little corner of involvement. They will object to changes that affect their particular function. Pastors, janitors, musicians and bookkeepers are not immune. Individual congregations face the temptation to operate from a silo mentality or with NIMBY as their view of the neighbours.

There is something intrinsically spiritual about the work we do and more importantly, the spirit in which we do our work. You cannot read the gospels without hearing the lessons about being a servant. The slave mode is a characteristic teaching of the Suffering Servant Jesus.

The greatest person in God’s Kingdom will be known as the guy or woman who had the greatest capacity to serve everyone they encounter. A servant cannot operate in a silo or as a NIMBY. The servants of ‘all’ must be able to find a way to serve ‘all’.

[2] American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.