Communication Leadership Making Church Matter

Some Things I Want My Staff To Know (part two)

August 30, 2009

We are getting ready for a staff development session on September 9, looking at our staff culture and values before we jump into the busy fall season.  In preparation for that session I have been thinking about and reading about what I expect to see in our staff and what they need from me.  Here are a few more (at the end of this series I will provide some of the resources I used to compile this lists).

7. Never say, “That’s not my job.”

On every job description that comes across my desk, with every new hire we make, I make sure that the phrase “other duties as assigned by the Pastor” gets included and is understood.  Not because I want everyone at my beck and call, they’re not; they’re far too busy with their own jobs.  But as the Pastor I have a view of the whole that others don’t necessarily get from their perspective and sometimes other concerns or situations outweigh a particular job or duty. 

Hopefully this doesn’t happen too often. I know Churches where everyone is always running around responding to problems or crisis and nobody ever does the job they’re hired to do. That is a problem. 

On the other hand, and equally unhelpful, are the Churches where people think their position or place trumps the purpose of the Church: “pastoral ministry is more important than anything else,” “hold everything because there’s a funeral coming in,” “music needs the biggest budget and most attention,” “its all about the school,” etc).

That is not the case here: our staff will chip in to help any other staff members who is busy or stressed; they will pick up any job or task if it helps the overall cause. 

Obviously I want each member of the staff to be working in their area of giftedness but always available and willing to do whatever it takes.  The best example of this is Christmas Eve, the single biggest event of the whole year for us.  On Christmas Eve, which we host at the Maryland State Fair, everyone’s job is Christmas Eve (and nobody is off).

8. Don’t settle for “good enough.”

Perfectionism is a harmful pursuit, excellence is not.  At Nativity we are committed to excellence, while remaining far, far, far from perfect. In fact, as we grow and change as a church community there are always new ways we will be imperfect.  That’s fine, but we want a culture which is characterized by the pursuit of excellence, if not always the firm possession of it.

The people working here, and increasingly the people on our volunteer staff, are not average; they are not just “good enough.”  They are an exceptional group of people with a boatload of talent.  That must be reflected in their work.

Lets be honest: I’ve had a lot of bad experiences in church and so have you…bad homilies, bad hospitality, really, really bad music.  And that’s just for starters: how about criminally negligent religious education, atrocious maintenance, fiscal mismanagement.  Christ and his Church deserve our very best efforts; anything less than the pursuit of excellence is unacceptable.

9. Honor one another

Beyond support and respect, without which were not even getting out of the starting gate, I need my staff to honor me and honor one another.  What does that mean?  Honor is about recognizing the dignity and integrity and value and distinctive contribution of each team member.  How does this get played out?  You need to care about what I care about and I need to care about what you care about…your family, your passions, your heart, your fears, your hopes and dreams.  It includes things like hanging out together, eating meals together from time to time, having fun together, celebrating others wins and helping to shoulder their losses, listening to one another, especially when we disagree.

We started two practices this summer that have the potential to powerfully help us honor one another.  In our weekly staff prayer time (in itself an indispensable practice) a person is chosen each week that we pray over (out loud). And at our Monday staff meeting we are choosing one person a week to highlight or spotlight: talking about what we’ve learned from them, what we like about them, how we’ve seen them grow and positive challenges that we want to challenge them with. 

10.  Keep learning and growing

Pastor Bill Hybels spoke at this year’s Leadership Summit about the period of accelerated change we now live in.  The world is changing faster than it ever has before and the rate of change is increasing beyond our ability to even appreciate or anticipate.  The only thing we can anticipate is that it will continue, that accelerated change is the new normal.

Whatever talents and experiences and education people bring to our team is great to get them in the door, but hardly enough going forward.  We want a staff of life long learners who know they don’t know how church-world is going to look in the future…but can’t wait to find out.

(to be continued and concluded next week)



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