Guardians of the Church Galaxy

Bailey ButtersGeneral, Organizational Life

By Dr. David Lee Davis, IGC Executive Director

This article is part one of a four-part series examining Deloitte’s Business Chemistry and its implications for faith-based organizations.


They are often called “brake pedals” or “wet blankets” or as one pastor sarcastically put it, “Satan’s BFF.”  They are neither, and you need them.  In Deloitte’s Business Chemistry® model, they are called “Guardians.”  Deloitte creatively drew from the disciplines of neuro-anthropology and genetics to develop an analytics-driven tool for understanding and leveraging differences between people. Their system is designed to help employees understand what makes people click or clash.  They aim to equip people to recognize behavioral patterns in others so that they can interact in ways that improve effectiveness and collaboration.  Unlike many systems, Business Chemistry® is not so much about self-awareness as it is about interpreting behavioral interactions to gain organizational effectiveness.  (Let me say I have not yet mastered this system.  However, I am through my second reading of the book and like its relational approach. I believe it has a lot to offer the faith-based and non-profit world.)

Guardians, unlike Pioneers, Drivers, and Integrators, believe that they “can change the world one spreadsheet at a time.”1 They are methodical, detail-driven, structured, practical, and fiercely loyal.  In the faith-based world, we would say that they have the spiritual gift of administration. They can bring order to the chaos, which by the way, is how the scripture describes the work of the Spirit.  Guardians are also likely conventional, hierarchical, disciplined, and frugal.2  Guardians cannot be rushed.  It makes sense that they would gravitate to the church.  They resonate with the time-tested patterns of the Christian community and feel comfortable in the structure and order of traditional worship.  They are comfortable with the familiar. Typically, but not always, they enjoy the old hymns, the pipe organ, and uncomfortable pews because they believe these things have stood the test of time.  They are, however, open to significant change.


In spite of what you may have come to believe, Guardians are not trying to prevent progress, stifle vision, or annihilate an amazing future.  In fact, they bring a gift. They can turn a vision into reality; they can execute a dream, and most importantly guard the new vision with every ounce of energy they have.  In other words, they can become stewards of the future.  But, you’ll have to win them over.


Here are a few tips for turning Guardians into allies.  First, authentically appreciate and affirm their attention to detail, their aversion to risk, and their trust in time-tested values and principles.  Be authentic.  Do not think for a minute you can pull the wool over their eyes.  Better people than you have tried.  Having a red-hot vision and love for God will not be enough.  The case for moving forward in new directions must lay out the facts, reduce uncertainty, and be open to questions.

When talking with guardians do not take their questions personally!  Measure your words carefully and if you don’t have the answer to a question, consider responding by inviting them to help you. They are wired to protect.  Their questions are not roadblocks but provide a pathway to operationalizing goals. Most of all, make sure you are emotionally ready to discuss and defend your underlying assumptions. Guardians know that the most essential part of the house is the foundation.  If the beginnings of a plan underpinning the vision are absent, respect will be lost.  Employing phrases like “leap of faith” or “trust” or worse, “God will lead us” are to them code for lack of preparedness. For Guardians faith is trusting that God gave us the ability to think wisely and the patience to wait for clarity.

Whenever possible invite a few Guardians into the vision development process early.  Ask for their help in laying out a plan that is feasible, sustainable, and beneficial to the overall goals. Guardians can help you build a case for huge changes and a bold vision.  Eventually, many Guardians will let go of what they prefer for a plan that is better.   When that happens, they become stewards of the vision and protectors of the future.


If you are reading this and you are a Guardian we both know you are too introverted and reserved to push your way into conversations about change.  Teams only work when everyone seeks to understand each other.  Step out of that comfort zone and come alongside the Drivers and Pioneers who are searching to make a positive disruptive change.  You can temper your resiliency with a little flexibility!


Interested in knowing how to better relate to the people with whom you work?  Or maybe you want to understand yourself better?  Click here to take the Business Chemistry® self-test or to develop a profile for someone else.  It’s free now, but you’ll have to give an e-mail address.


We at IGC would love to help with your staff needs.  If you’d like to know more about IGC Consulting services for congregations and faith-based nonprofits, visit our website at  Our mission is to serve those who serve God. We’d love to help with staff evaluations, team building, job description clarification/performance planning, or your next staff retreat.


Be on the lookout for the next article about Drivers and why churches and organizations cannot make the journey toward operational excellence without them.


1Christfort, Kim, and Suzanne Vickberg. Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships. Hoboken: Wiley, 2018.


David Lee Davis is the Executive Director of the Intentional Growth Center.  David holds degrees from Princeton Seminary, Emory University, and Houghton Wesleyan College.