I have a friend, a minister of education in a previous church, who attended a conference for senior pastors. He told me about a small group session he was a part of during which a senior pastor told about a staff meeting that shook him to his foundation.
An event occurred that changed his perspective of his entire staff . . . current and future. His story went something like this:
He pastored at a church for several years and assembled a staff that was productive and, he thought, closely connected to each other as a team. One day, as the staff gathered in his office for their weekly meeting, the youth pastor dragged in with a dejected look on his face.
It appeared obvious to the pastor that his youth minister was saddened over an event of some sort. His depressed look was uncomfortable for the pastor, so he tried to lighten the mood by asking the youth minister, in a flippant, light-hearted way, what seemed to be the problem. The youth minister deflected, saying that there was no problem.
The pastor continued to ply the youth minister with questions, becoming increasingly concerned as he recognized the seriousness of the situation. Still the junior staff member denied that there was a problem, or he simply stated that he did not want to discuss it.
At last, with increasing pressure and in front of the entire ministerial staff that had gathered, the youth minister looked the senior pastor in the eye and stated emphatically, “I don’t want to talk about it with you because you don’t give a *#%^!! about me!!”
Understanding Our True Motives
Caught off guard, this senior pastor could say nothing in the moment. However, as he related the story to my friend, he said that as he pondered the encounter he had to admit that he really didn’t care about that minister, nor had he really cared about any of the staff members he’d ever worked with.
He only cared that they were productive in their areas, not that they had needs. The result was a major reevaluation of this pastor’s attitude toward all those he was working with. He realized he needed to be the pastor to his staff as well as to the congregation.
And not just their pastor, but the person who cared about them.
Not just for their membership and attendance and contributions, but for the people God gave His Son for.
A Critical Assessment
Do you care about your staff as much as you care about your congregation? Are you assuming that all is right in your staff members’ world?
Often “assuming” gets us in trouble!
Here are 10 assumptions you cannot make about your ministerial staff:
- Don’t assume that a seminary degree has prepared each staff member for the practical application of ministering — Knowing what the Bible says is not the same as knowing what to do to make it work in life. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t say a whole lot about how to schedule choir rehearsals, or recruit Bible study leaders, or enlist sponsors for youth activities. Invest in your staff to give them guidance.
- Don’t assume that your direction in ministry is the direction each of your staff will automatically take — Meet with them on a regular basis to coordinate your leadership intentions. Not just in staff meetings, but individually to discuss your philosophies and get a mutual alignment. Not as the result of dictating to them. Rather let it be the result of being aligned with each other through Christ.
- Don’t assume that staff ministers’ families are being ministered to by their husband/father — As you’ve probably experienced yourself, as husband and father, you are your family’s minister. If you’re a workaholic for your church, your family is being cheated out of the ministry they need. Encourage them to invest in their families and talk with them out of concern to be sure they do.
- Don’t assume that young ministers don’t need a mentor — All new/young ministers are looking for a mentor. Someone with experience in ministry who cares about them for their success.
- Don’t assume that because they’re called by God & Church doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable — Everyone is vulnerable to the lure of temptation. Caring for your staff is one dimension of a relationship that encourages resistance to temptation.
10 assumptions you shouldn’t make?!!
You’ve read the first five. There are five more assumptions you can’t afford to make because your success depends on the effectiveness of your staff. Your ministry to your staff is critical to develop the unity and desire to work in concert with each other and you.
Whatchagonnado? The next five assumptions will follow in the next article. In the meantime, does your staff know you care?
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