Month: July 2023

5 Traits of Great Staff

When it comes to great staff, we all want to hire the best leaders, see them flourish and realize their God-given potential!

When a staff member is motivated, competent, and loves their job, they are a joy to work with! They bring life to the party and you want to be around them.

We also know that’s not always the case. An unhappy staff member who struggles to do their job, and possibly doesn’t like where they work can really hurt the team.

Selecting the best staff is an art, we never get it perfect, but if you know what you are aiming for you are much more likely to get.

What traits should we look for? What characteristics do you want to develop after they are on the team? Of all the options we could list, which ones are at the top of the list?

Before we look at the five traits of great staff, let’s review the basics.

The foundational elements of great staff, just like a great boss, are:

  1. Love Jesus: humble spirit, servant heart, hears God’s voice
  2. Continued Growth: secure, learning, practicing leadership
  3. Strong Character: trustworthy, living by the same standards that they expect, discipline to do the right thing

The following 5 traits come from interviewing and coaching hundreds of church leaders across the country, as well as my own personal experience as an Executive Pastor leading staff.

5 Traits of Great Staff:

1) They bring leadership energy to the table.

At 12Stone Church, we say about a great new staff person “Someone just showed up.” You don’t have to be in our culture to immediately get a feel for what that means. We all know how wonderful it is when someone else jumps in and brings leadership energy into the room. They help make things happen!

  • A great staff member is inspired with passion for the mission.
  • Great staff are proactive.

2) Their consistent self leadership results in noticeable maturity.

Leading others well begins with leading yourself well. The basics of being a great employee seem simple but make a surprising difference. Things such as being on time, finishing assignments, taking initiative even in the little things, and following up on what is promised. These kinds of behaviors require consistent discipline and result in maturity. Any staff member that operates out of a framework of maturity along with competence is a highly valued teammate.

  • Great staff are self-aware.
  • Great staff manage emotion well.
  • Great staff are OK when a teammate gets more than they do.

3) They absorb pressure with grace and composure.

It’s natural to want to get rid of pressure, or at least make it lighter by taking the matter to your boss. It’s normal to want to know what your boss would do. Sometimes you need some help. That’s OK. That’s part of why your boss is there. But the best leaders absorb as much pressure on their own as possible. You become absolutely invaluable if you consistently step in, step up and handle the pressure filled situations, whatever they may be.

  • Great staff lead well at home. (Peace at home increases your ability to handle pressure at work.)
  • Great staff lead up well. (On this topic, I recommend 360 Degree Leader, by John Maxwell.)
  • Great staff solve problems.

4) They are socially adept and get along well with even challenging personalities.

It’s difficult to over emphasize the importance of strong and natural relational abilities. This is especially true in the church where nearly every situation is relationally driven. The following four attributes are simple to understand, but tough to live consistently. Leaders who are good with people live them well and are in high demand.

  • Great staff are encouragers.
  • Great staff are positive by nature.
  • Great staff possess a sense of humor.
  • Great staff have a personal inner peace that allows them to pay attention to others.

5) They are really good at what they do, and continue to improve.

We all want to be on a winning team and winning teams have staff that are gifted at what they do! When you work in a healthy and productive environment there is much training, development, coaching and encouragement. In response staff become better at what they do. That’s the ideal winning scenario!

  • Great staff possess talent and skills that are recognized and requested.
  • Great staff see the big picture.
  • Great staff have a competence that leads to greater capacity.

Written by Dan Reiland

Article taken from here.

Maximizing Your Team

How’s that weekly staff meeting going for you?

Church leadership and staff teams get bogged down by the day-to-day grind, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  When vision is established, creating a plan of attack is critical in reaching the big goals, but it’s also necessary to keep your team motivated, encouraged, and making real progress.

Think about your regular team meetings.  Are they much the same each week, or are they really helpful in moving your church closer to the prize?  Below are five simple, but effective habits for maximizing your team.

1. Define the next win to the big goal.

Achieving vision doesn’t happen overnight and strategy implementation is a long-term process built on a commitment to focus. When the big picture is all a staff sees, some will get lost in the dream while others will get discouraged by the distance between the dream and reality. Yes, set long-term vision and challenging performance goals each year, but in your staff meetings, focus on the win for this week that takes you closer to the big goals. Always cast what’s priority in light of the big picture, but channel your team’s energy towards what can be accomplished this week.

2. Determine the critical pathways.

Defining the next win sounds great, but you need to know how to get there. When I was the project manager for a campus building project, I worked every week with our contractor to define the step-by-step pathway that was necessary to hit our weekly, monthly, and overall project goals. It can help to map out your goals with your team, and work together to set benchmarks and align responsibilities.

3. Prune the waste from your schedule.

In his fantastic book essentialism, Greg McKeowen states, “You cannot underestimate the unimportance of practically everything.” Where is your team wasting effort on things that are ostensibly important but are actually almost useless? Take time for staff to list out their time breakdown, and encourage them to eliminate 20% of it by classifying it as a total waste of time.

4. Manage the minutiae.

There will be things in your week that are tedious but necessary. Follow the Pareto Principle, and don’t allow your 20% most powerful effort to go towards these things. Relegate the minutiae to your least valuable time, and delegate as much as possible. No one can eliminate all of their busy work, but teams can demote it so that it doesn’t consume their week.

5. Celebrate the progress.

Each week, celebrate the quick win you aimed for the previous week. If you didn’t attain your goal, celebrate what was accomplished, and talk about how you can hit the current week’s goal. Your team needs to believe that your church is actually working towards something, that the payoff is worth it, and the journey itself is rewarding. No one wants to end their week feeling like they were in a hamster wheel: running their hardest only to finish in the same place they started. Mark progress and celebrate it.

Here’s the bottom line.  Ask yourself this question: would I be willing to sacrifice an inch of progress in a hundred directions if I could gain a mile in one direction? Does this mean that there would be a drop-off in productivity somewhere? Yes. But if you can build team clarity around what truly matters most in the weekly grind, you’ll finally gain momentum towards your vision and accomplish bold performance goals. I imagine you’d take that trade every day of the week.

Written by Scott Ball

Article taken from here.

5 Positive Reasons Why Church Staff Leave

Staff, just like members, come and go in the normal rhythm of church life–20% of Americans move every year and that one factor alone affects all churches and staffs.

This may alarm or even scare other staff or members of your congregation. They may wonder, “What went wrong?” Was it a result of sin or incompetence or conflict? Yet, this is rarely the case. In Saddleback’s history only a very small handful of staff have left for negative reasons. Instead we rejoice as staff members step out in faith to follow God’s will into new areas.

Why Staff Leave:

1. A Stage of Life

Sometimes staff leave because of a change in their life or family: having a baby, kids entering school, spouse changing jobs or being transferred, having to care for an aged parent, getting married, needing greater income, going back to school, or retirement. These are just a few of hundreds of valid stage-of-life reasons.

2. A Stirring of God

Sometimes staff leave simply because they sense God wants them to do something else! They feel a “stirring” or restlessness in their spirit, which often indicates that God has other plans in mind for them. Some people feel the pull of God to go to seminary full-time or get more education to prepare for future ministry.

Sometimes the stirring is circumstantial – the job they were hired to do is finished, or the job has changed due to the growth of the church, or the church has restructured and is moving in a new direction. God often has people “serve for a season” in order to benefit his church at that particular moment and also to teach and develop them.

The reality is that almost no one stays with the same job for his or her entire lifetime. In fact, one of the primary ways God teaches us to trust him is through job changes. If we never had to change, we’d never have to live by faith.

I like to use the illustration of the American Moon Project–thousands of engineers worked for NASA on different stages of the project. But when their part was finished they moved on.

3. A Season of Healing

Sometimes staff members leave in order to “take a break” and focus on some physical, or emotional, or relational health issues. Sometimes it is a personal health issue and sometimes it is to care for a family member. Either way, we applaud people for making a wise and healthy decision. Work should never be at the expense of your health.

4. A Sense of Greater Calling

I have said repeatedly “You don’t judge the strength of a church on its seating capacity but by its sending capacity.” As a purpose driven church our goal is to “Bring them in, Build them up, Train them, and Send them out!” This is true for both staff and members. It has never been our goal to selfishly cling to all the talent God raises up in this church. We want to share it.

Over the years we’ve had many staff be trained at Saddleback and then sent out to plant new churches, and to help existing churches–as pastors, staff members of other churches, missionaries, Christian organization workers, consultants to other churches, seminary teachers, and even as volunteers in smaller churches who could not afford staff.

My dad used to tell me “Your first ministry is never your greatest ministry. It is always preparation for what God will eventually do through you.” After nearly 30 years in ministry, I have found this principle to always be true. If someone is at their first church, don’t be surprised if God moves them eventually.

5. And Sometimes It’s Private

On rare occasions, people leave staff for PRIVATE reasons. In those cases, it is my commitment to protect the privacy of those individuals. So sometimes we don’t publicize the reason the staff member has chosen to leave.

Regardless of the reason people leave, your response should always be the same: gratitude for the time God allowed them to serve, along with prayers and best wishes that God will continue to use them in the future.

Written by Rick Warren

Article taken from here.

5 Things to Do When You’re on the Edge of Burnout

Have you ever had a day where you felt completely drained, depleted, and like you had nothing else left to give? Juggling so many tasks on a regular basis can make you feel like you are stretched so thin that you may even pass out — ministry life, social life, family life, repeat. It feels like it never ends!

Having occasional days like this is normal, but when those days turn into weeks, you are likely experiencing burnout.

Many of us have heard of the term burnout and we’ve probably used it a time or two. But what does it actually mean?

What is Burnout?

Burnout is a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged periods of stress.

A key indicator of burnout is a persistent tiredness or exhaustion that is not easily relieved by rest.

Unfortunately, burnout is not completely abnormal. Burnout impacts everyone but certainly those who work in helping professions such as healthcare, emergency responders, mental health, and ministry.

Burnout Indicators in Ministry

In ministry, burnout can be caused by….

  • Unrealistic Expectations
  • Misplaced Priorities
  • Lack of Professional or Personal Boundaries
  • Insufficient Recognition or Reward

What to Do When You’re on the Edge of Burnout

In the midst of extreme burnout, it’s easy to think that the most practical approach to recovery is to quit your job and look for something else. However, burnout can be successfully managed. It is possible to learn to reduce your load and find moments of relaxation.

Here are five things to do when you are on the edge of burnout:

1. Recognize the Warning Signs

Just because burnout is a normal reaction when overwhelmed does not mean it should be ignored. Not doing anything about it can suppress your immune system and make it easier for you to catch illnesses. It’s helpful to watch for signs that indicate that overwhelm is slowly creeping in.

The main areas of symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling chronic lack of energy
  • Feeling detached
  • Feeling irritable
  • Feeling negativity, skepticism or cynicism about your work

Overtime, burnout can negatively impact your work performance which can lead to even more detachment, negativity, and cynicism. Burnout can sometimes take weeks or longer to recover from, so it’s good to spot symptoms early.

2. Saying “No” Even After You Have Said “Yes”

This is one of the hardest things to do. Most of the people that I’ve met in ministry are conscientious, relational-people who hold a high bar for…well, just about everything. It’s hard to say no and even harder to do so once you’ve committed yourself to something. However, setting personal and professional boundaries is a key way of slowing down early signs of burnout.

If you are asked to take on an extra work task when you would prefer to rest and recover, just say no. Even if you initially agreed.  During times of burnout, mental wellness should be the priority.

Occasionally turning down requests allows you to say “yes” towards commitments you want to make.

Here are three other ways to create healthy boundaries.

  • Take regular breaks during your day.
  • Completely disconnect from social media and email after work hours.
  • Be sure to use the end of your workday and holiday breaks to completely recover and restore.

3. Make Time to Rest and Restore

Do you remember the old-adage, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy? If not—no worries, it’s kind of an old reference. But it still rings true. Essentially, a never-ending workflow can leave you with very little time for hobbies or doing those things that bring about feelings of joy. When stressed, it’s easy to continue to focus on work. It’s even easier to lose sight of the other activities that you enjoy such as spending time with family or friends or engaging in another activity that feeds your more creative side.

Don’t just wait for “free time” to surface.  Be intentional. Carve out time to catch up on a hobby you previously put aside or take on an exciting project. Choose an activity that is purely fun with nothing work-related. When you maintain some type of work-life balance, you can successfully recharge and avoid burnout.

Finally, helping others (outside of your usual ministry obligations) can provide you with an uplift beyond what you do in your formal work.  Look for volunteer opportunities that pique your creative side. See if there are childcare or animal shelter needs in your neighborhood. Spending unstructured time with children and animals can be mentally beneficial. The difference you are making will help you forget all about the “have-to’s” and focus on the “want-to’s.”

4. Exercise

Stress and trauma are stored in the body so it’s important to move your body. This may seem like a silly thing to do when you feel too exhausted to breathe, but various studies have shown exercise to be an efficient stress-reliever. Exercise doesn’t have to eat away at all of your extra time. Try exercising for just half an hour per day or for ten minutes three times a day. In the morning, afternoon, and night.

Moving your upper and lower body can improve your mood, sharpen your focus, and relax you. You can either join a gym or try in-home workouts. There are a number of wonderful free routines on YouTube that include yoga, dancing, cycling, or kickboxing.  Cardiovascular activity helps to discharge excessive stress-related toxins and release endorphins—which are those feel good hormones.

5. Reach Out for Support

Bottling everything you are feeling inside is not healthy. It will just make you even more overwhelmed. Reach out to your friends and family when you are feeling overcome with emotion. Connect, particularly, with those who love you well and walk closely with God. Never think you will be a burden to them. They may even be flattered that you sought them out as a sign of trust and love.

You can also find a community group of ministry leaders who have dealt with burnout and found effective ways to cope. Connecting with them on a regular basis will help you feel less alone. If you’ve tried everything mentioned on this list and still feel overwhelmed, consider speaking to a mental health professional. By speaking to a therapist, you are relying on a trained professional who will actively listen, not judge you. They can help you find effective solutions to reduce your ministry-related stress.

Written by Chinwe Williams

Article taken from here.