In most cases, the responsibility for the staff of a church falls ultimately on the senior pastor, whether or not he directly supervises them. But here is an irony. While senior pastors usually want staff reporting up through them (makes sense from an organizational point of view) those same pastors don't always take the time to care for their staff (an abrogation of their responsibility). Some ignore them altogether while others go through the motions of leading and caring in a superficial way. Fortunately some take the responsibility seriously and develop cultures that are life giving.

Here though is an irony. While churches talk about transformational ministry many staff cultures are far from transformational: being instead marginally healthy or even toxic. Often this stems from a senior pastor's focus on the congregation at the expense of his staff. Untransformational staff cultures cannot contribute to a transformed congregation so this is a great disconnect for the ministry.

Where this is the case there are at least four possible explanations in play.

One: The senior leader is so self absorbed that they don't see the necessity of building into their staff who actually make their own success possible. This form of narcissistic behavior is damaging in the long run to the trust and strength of the staff team.

Two: The senior leader is ill equipped to supervise, not having the training to supervise well. In this case, if the leadership of the church cares about staff health (and most do) why not get your senior leader management/supervisory training as they are ultimately responsible for the well being of their staff.

Three: The senior leader has not learned that his greatest leverage point is a strong team that is aligned and focused on the same things. This only happens when the leader has taken the time to make this a reality. 

Four: The senior leader just is not interested and therefor thinks they don't need to pay staff much attention. After all they are professionals, let them do what they do and fare for themselves. Caring for your staff, building mutual trust, being on the same page, contributing to their growth and success is not only the job of a leader but a responsibility of a leader. One should not lead if they are not willing to take the time to build and nurture a team.

None of these possible explanations are good excuses for not nurturing, growing and supporting the pastoral and support staff of a church. There are things we do because we like to do them and other things that come with the territory. If we are not going to care for staff then we need to empower someone else to do so but the issue cannot be ignored. 

I believe strongly that boards should hold their senior leader directly responsible for the health and happiness of the staff. It is one of the most basic requirements of leadership. How the senior leader chooses to organize for the health of staff is their business. But it is ultimately their responsibility and they should be held accountable for the result. 

(Posted from Santiago, Chile)
  • Apr 24, 2014
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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