In most cases, a leader has someone to lead. Usually that someone is a staff member, be it laity or clergy. So often, the great conflict in any organization is the inability for senior leadership to co-exist effectively and cordially with their colleagues. In fact, to make matters worse, there will always be a third party who sees to it that calm is impossible.
Three Characteristics of a Great Staff Member
I think it was Bill Hybels who said that three things are required from every staff member: godliness, competency in his or her area and loyalty to the senior leader.
To enlarge on that trio of characteristics, it might be recognized that godliness is something that takes time and that competency is something with which a person can be helped, but if a colleague is not loyal, you can't help them. The moment a staff member can no longer be supportive of his leader, he should leave, regardless of his or her value to the body or entrenchment within the congregation. He or she should leave immediately.
Avoiding Big Mistakes
I have generally had good success in staff relationships, but like so many leaders, I was once asked to inherit another man's group. They were loyal to the former leader — as they should have been — but they found it very difficult to adjust to my way of doing things. It was tough on them and tough on me. My biggest mistake — and, I might add, injustice to them — was to allow my emotions to get the best of me. They had homes, friends and a network of support, and I didn't want to jeopardize any of that. Instead, I jeopardized my own effectiveness.
I recall one pastor who said to his staff, "These are my requirements. I am going to give several months for us to consider my expectations. If I feel, in time, that you will be happier and more effective somewhere else, I will tell you that." I didn't do that, but I should have.
I further feel that staff difficulties should be dealt with swiftly. It is not unlike a cancer, in that it will in a very short time infest the total body. There is so much more that can be shared about staff, but trust and loyalty are the two common threads that must run through the mix.
One time, I needed to ask a very well-known, talented staff member to work somewhere else. Because of his national reputation and his connections with a segment of our community, I was reluctant to do so. Things began to deteriorate to a point where it was becoming obvious to our people. I was sitting at home late one evening when the telephone rang. It was a member of my church board, who said to me, "We have just done what you should have done — we have terminated the staff member that should have been terminated weeks ago." I can't tell you how relieved I was. The fallout was painful, but the peace that permeated our staff from that day forward was worth the pain.
Staff relations can bring about the "best of times or the worst of times" — let's go for the best.
Ever feel like you need to wear a mask to cover up who you are? Are you concerned that, if people knew who you really are and how you really felt, they wouldn't understand?
One minister, two jobs and the family that's at the top of the list. The number of bivocational ministers, those in full- or part-time ministry who carry an additional job, is estimated by some researchers to be as high as 30 percent of ministers nationwide.
"You should see the church they attend," Lucille said, armed with bulletin and newsletter. Creases formed across my brow as celebration gave way to comparisons a trap that had sprung too many times.