What the church staff owes the pastor

This is a followup to our recent article on “What pastors owe their church staff.”

A pastor has a right to expect that the ministerial staff working under him will carry out certain basic responsibilities, which include….

1) Doing their particular jobs well.  If you are called to work with the teenagers, that should be your focus.  If your area of responsibility is administering the children’s program or the work with seniors or discipleship, you will always be interested and supportive of the total work of the church, but you will be rated on how well you do your particular area.

2) Living a solidly Christian life at all times. This should go without saying, but after seeing the way some people compartmentalize their lives–“Hey, this is simply my job. What I do in my spare time is my business!”–we need to spell it out: If you are not living as a disciple of Jesus Christ, you have no business serving in any capacity whatsoever at a church.

3) Modeling good church membership. This means attendance (be there!), involvement (participate!), tithing your income, and encouraging everyone you meet (Hebrews 10:25).

Pastors and other church workers would do well to answer this question: “Would I still come to church if I were not being paid?” If the answer is anything less than an enthusiastic “Sure would!” you need to do some soul-searching.

4) Not venturing into the area of ministry assigned to someone else without their permission and the supervisor’s approval.

I knew of one staffer who had strong opinions about the work of every other minister in that office.  In fact, he became a burr under the saddle of his colleagues. Finally, his pastor suggested he a) stop it now and b) ask the Lord to open up a church for him to pastor where he could test all his wisdom.  When he left that church to pastor, two good things happened: there was peace on the staff and the church he went to lead flourished.

5) Team Loyalty.  Not speaking against the pastor or any colleague to anyone else.  Supporting the work of the total program.

Here’s the problem. The staffer can have a problem with a co-workers. It happens. And, because he is close to a few laypeople in the church, he confides in one or two.  In the meantime, he and the colleague settle their differences. However, the news that they are having differences spreads throughout the congregation.  Since people love to talk, and since they got the news from you, it carries a certain authenticity.  Your pastor will be meeting this “report of dissension without the ranks” at the next meeting of the deacons or personnel committee. And well he should. This needs to be dealt with.

I said to a staff member who had done this very thing, “If this ever happens again, you will be looking for a job. Are we clear on this?”

Team loyalty means that when the pastor or leadership team proposes something, if the staffer has a problem with it, he/she tells the pastor or key leader in private but not in public.  Never in public.

The pastor is not only the boss of each staffer, but also the leader of the church and thus God’s man in that position.  As such, he should be given great respect and honor.  Once a staff member decides he/she is unable to do that, they need to leave the staff and find other work.  (The exception would be if the minister is doing something illegal, immoral, or unethical, in which case, all the rules change and the lay leadership needs to step in and deal with the matter.)

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