As a pastor, you not only look after the needs of your family and your flock, but you also need to care for your staff.
- Do you pray for them?
- Do you treat them fairly?
- Do you play favorites?
Only you can answer these questions. When you do annual reviews for your staff, do you take your time with them, look them in the eye, and tell them what they need to hear?
Make a Sandwich
When I do a review, I apply what I call the “sandwich approach.”
- I start by genuinely telling them what they’re doing well.
- Then I let them know areas where they could improve.
- Finally, I conclude by reminding them of their value—both to the ministry and to me personally.
By “sandwiching” the review, they can hear anything in the middle. But they must know that your affirmations up front are authentic and not just a primer for the bad news—or for their getting fired! They must know they are important to you. I’ve communicated some of my strongest words to staff people—some very firm words—maybe even stronger than I’ve said to my kids. But not one of them thought I didn’t love them.
Keep the Pool Clean
Your staff needs your loyalty. Church members will come to you to talk about the staff. Watch it.
- Be confident and be careful . . . just as you would want your staff to be careful when church members come to talk about you! Never undercut a staff member because a church member is influential or gives a lot of money. That’s dirty pool.
- If you have a problem with your staff member, you have a mouth and they have ears. Make the time, and get alone with them. Be willing to listen to their problems with you without being defensive. Again, just like you would want them to respond to you.
- Do you pay them a fair salary? Do you compensate them the going rate they could make if they worked in the industry in your city? Take a look at that and do what’s fair.
Stay in the Right Corner
Let me mention one more item in relation to staff. Do you check up and make sure they’re taking their day off? I had a staff member one time in a former church who rarely took his day off. I remember driving by the church on a Monday evening and I saw his light on. When I got there Tuesday morning the light was still on! I marched into his office and asked, “When’s the last time you took a day off?”
He seemed proud of his answer, “It’s been about three weeks.”
So I said, “That’s unacceptable. You keep that up, and I’ll let you go.”
You know what? Amazingly, he started taking his day off! There is no value in not taking a day off.
- My mentor, Howard Hendricks, had one wag tell him, “The devil never takes a holiday, so why should I?” Hendricks didn’t miss a beat and replied: “Oh really, I didn’t know he was your model.” I love it!
- There’s an old line that goes, “I’d rather burn out than rust out.” What kind of choice is that? Either way you’re out!
As a pastor you know more than most how important it is to have an advocate in your corner. Most likely, you are that sole advocate for those who labor alongside you.
Please, take good care of your staff.