Some social commentators have derided the downfall of commitment in our society, especially among young people. They point to lower rates of marriage (and higher rates of divorce) along with other social tendencies. In our fast-paced, ever-changing culture, remembering the value of commitment is increasingly important.
We’re in the fifth week of a series of blog posts all about our staff values here at Nativity and how each serves our mission. If you haven’t been keeping up, links to each post are at the bottom of this page.
This week, we’re looking at our fifth value: commitment.
We define commitment as dedication to the greater good. Commitment is often avoided because it is viewed as restrictive. If, however, viewed as a pledge to the greater good and higher purpose, it can be liberating. Commitment can also be a powerful tool in building effectiveness and success. Basically, we look for three levels of commitment from our staff.
What is true about our staff at Nativity is probably true of many parish staff: most of our staff did not study to be church employees and have no background in parish work – for that matter, neither did I. Rather, many of our current staff had successful professional careers in law, communications, information technology, education, and finance among other fields. Each came to Nativity out of love for the Church and a commitment to serve others. They use their education, formation, and professional background to serve our mission, and that commitment gives our team both breadth and depth. While there will inevitably be personnel transitions, we look for and enjoy long term commitment from our staff. This kind of commitment is all too rare in churchworld and weakens parishes where it is absent.
One of the most daunting aspects of building a staff at church is asking people to work weekends. Nobody wants to do it, and it is not an easy commitment to make. We ask all of our professional and pastoral staff to work at least some part of, if not the whole weekend. All staff must work certain weekends of the year (like “Kick-Off Sunday” and “Stewardship Sunday”). It amazes us how many parishes we talk to do not have this requirement. The commitment to work weekends is a game-changer for any parish because we are primarily a weekend exercise. Honoring this commitment means rearranging family commitments and even being creative about family and personal time. It’s a sacrifice for sure.
The most important commitment our staff makes is to our mission: to love God, love others, and make disciples. This commitment must be at the forefront of all we do and the choices we make, even how we budget and spend money, use our facilities, approach long and short term planning.
Without commitment, a parish staff is at best dysfunctional and underperforming. With commitment, it can soar.