The stories are tragic but too common. Different members of a church staff unite in opposition to other staff. An executive pastor goes behind the back of the pastor and undermines the leadership of that pastor. The lead pastor of a church rarely communicates with the other church staff. The different members of the church staff operate in silos instead of cooperating synergistically. A lead pastor fires a staff member without any due process or compassion.
Those are but a few examples of a divided church staff. The result is always harmful to the church they are called to serve. Sometimes the negative impact of the division takes years to overcome. Sometimes it lingers the entire history of the church.
This article is for individual church staff: senior pastors, lead pastors, executive pastors, and numerous others serving in such areas as children, students, discipleship, worship, small groups, and pastoral care, to name a few.
These eight characteristics are for you as you relate to the other staff at your church, regardless of how they respond or reciprocate. The most godly and influential staff members I have known share these eight traits.
- They pray for other staff members individually. In their private prayer time, effective staff members pray for the others who serve on the team. They pray for those who support them. And they pray for those who oppose them and even antagonize them.
- They seek to build up the ministries of the other staff members. In public and private, the best church staff members say great things about the other ministries. They seek to work with the other areas of ministry instead of competing with them.
- They communicate openly. They have no hidden agendas. They are not duplicitous in their public words versus their words said in private. They make certain everyone else understands fully what is taking place in their ministries and why.
- They express disagreements with other staff face to face. They are not cowards who spread venom behind the backs of other staff. If they have a disagreement with another staff person, they go to that person directly in a spirit of humility, honesty, and love.
- They seek to serve. They will show up at a ministry led by another staff person to help and demonstrate support. They will ask other staff how they can help them. I know the story of a discipleship pastor who brought a meal to the worship pastor during the busy Easter season just to let him know he appreciated him.
- They execute the tasks they are given. When one church staff member does not execute the tasks for which he or she is responsible, the entire staff is demoralized. There is a sense that some are working and others are not. It makes the entire staff ministry look weak or incompetent to church members. Often, other staff members have to pick up the slack.
- They defend other staff members to church members. Every church staff member receives criticisms on a regular basis from church members. But the best staff members will not allow a church member to denigrate other staff to him or her. The outstanding staff members will defend their fellow team member or, at the very least, direct the church member to speak directly with the person who is the subject of the criticism.
- They support and encourage the families of other staff. Families of church staff need support and encouragement. For sure, they often get enough of the negative feedback. Support and encouragement is especially powerful when it comes from another church staff member. Few things unify a church staff and, thus, a church as much as intentional encouragement of the families of church staff.
Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Unity and love are incredibly important for Christian witness. Unity and love are imperative for church staff who serve together.
This article was first published at ThomRainer.com and is used with permission.