In his terrific book, Courageous Leadership, Bill Hybels says that put, simply, he evaluates staff and potential staff by the 3 C's: Character, Competency, and Chemistry. I do the same…but have added one. But, we'll start with the 3 C's.
1. Character. Numero Uno. Ichiban. I believe that God is the one who bestows blessing on churches. It is also He who removes lampstands. Sin is the fastest way to invite God to remove his blessing from the church. The primary reason that I check out resumes isn't for the
information…it's because I want to find out if the person told the
truth. If they will lie on their resume, they will likely lie on the
job as well.
I've been in some staff situations where a staff person has been caught in a particular sin, repented, and we've moved on. In other cases, their sin has disqualified them from continuing service at the church. These cases are soooo tough on everyone. However, it's vitally important that the highest standards of integrity are upheld on staff and in elderships…if we want God's blessing rather than His discipline. Sin cannot remain in the camp for three reasons. First, it dishonors God. Enough said. Two, it breaks down trust on staff…making it increasingly difficult to do effective ministry. Three, in today's society, people both in and outside the church are so suspicious of leadership and authority structures–the church's witness and believability can be destroyed by one sin. Upholding integrity doesn't mean gracelessness. It does mean using sound, prayerful judgment as to when it's time to say, "Go and SIN NO MORE," vs. "GO and sin no more."
2. Competency. Churches like to hire people with good hearts. That's good. Everyone who serves the church–in fact, all Christians–should have hearts that are in the right place and wanting to serve the Lord. So, find someone who has that kind of heart and can also do the job. The church's resources and biblical stewardship principles demand that we hire capable people. So, look for track-record of competency somewhere. Look again for teachability (i.e., can their competency grow…or have they stopped growing). There is nothing wrong with expecting that someone who is paid in ministry do something valuable in exchange for the salary they receive.
Look to see if they have been trained in ministry, or if they are a "natural." I've worked with people who have been absolute naturals in ministry from the day they started…it's like they've been in ministry for a hundred years. Are they intelligent? What does their work product look like? Is it excellent, or does it show sloppiness, or lack of care?
The other people on your ministry team will also prefer to work with capable people. If you have someone who isn't capable on the team, see if they can be taught and developed. If they can't…well….
3. Chemistry. Oooohhh baby. This is the one that gets most of us. Can they play well in the sandbox with others? Are they territorial? Do they gossip? Are they prone to point the finger at someone else? Are they loyal to their teammates? Are they always in a sour mood, or do they laugh some? Look for traces of entitlement attitude and/or a jot and tittling mentality toward a work agreement. Look for battle wounds from previous wars that are infected and haven't healed yet.
Here's a question I ask almost everyone I've interviewed… have you ever been a part of a team..and what position did you play? Team sports, part of singing group, a church with 4 or more ministers on staff, in the military, part of a family with multiple kids…anything? If they haven't…tread cautiously. There is a certain tolerance for others and emotional IQ that is developed when one is part of a team. And, if one has been part of a winning team…all the better. Certain principles like mission over self, team over self, the value of training and practice, and a willingness to accept whatever role will help the team win games come pre-programmed. Don't hire divas or premadonas. Hire servant leaders.
The fourth thing… (an appendix to Hybels 3 C's…that he might put under Character or Competency…I feel the need to put it on it's own)…is…
4. Intrinsic Motivation. This is the trait of a person who knows that whatever they are doing, they do it unto the Lord. They don't mail it in, play hookey, turn in slipshot work, or need constant prodding. If something they do is mediocre, it bothers them until they can make it excellent. People have asked me how I "manage" the staff. I usually respond… "not much." This is because they are all very capable self-managers. Don't get me wrong…we have evaluation processes, accountability processes, etc. But, if I have to spend a lot of time managing someone, we probably hired the wrong person.
Ministers, of all people, should understand the value what they do and who they serve to be excellent and diligent in all they do. For instance, the elders shouldn't have to convince me that what I'm doing matters. The elders shouldn't have to make sure I'm working. They should know that I will not only work hard, but work excellently. If they have to correct me on this very often…they probablly hired the wrong guy.
One more thing… if people can doddle on the job, the church isn't doing enough…or may not be doing what it could because people are doddling. In a vibrant ministry context, there is so much to do, and seldom enough people to do the work. A minister's job should be hard enough that even if they wanted to slack off…they can't. I would rather have to go to a minister and ask them to take time off, then ask them, "Where were you last month?"
Such people are not grown on trees. They are more like unicorns. When you find people with the 3 C's + 1… hire them, cherish them, care for them, and they will bless you and the church immensely.