The fastest way to ruin your staff team is to hire and tolerate people who gossip about or slander others–especially others on the team. Many staff problems stem from careless talk–an inappropriately revealed secret, an unkind word in a small group, a slow air leak of negativity.
Occasional “tongue drift” happens–occasions where people say something they wish they hadn’t–as an exception. When “tongue drift” becomes a trend, it’s a spiritual issue. In James we read of the dangers of the tongue–and nowhere are those words more quickly and obviously proven true than on staff teams.
It’s better to work with those people of average abilities who have good control of their tongue and high loyalty to the church than those with exceptional ability and the corrosive flaw of gossip or a scorching case of “throwing-a-team-member-under-the-busitis.” If you can find the total package, find them, hire them, and create an environment they will want to stay in for a long time. If you have someone with a loose tongue and exceptional ability, warn them and try to work with them. But, if they can’t pull it together, “set them free.” It is better to lose their ability on the team than the chemistry of the team.
Gossip, slander or breach of confidentiality will kill your staff team faster than anything. It will also set the church as a whole on fire faster than anything. A supportive staff environment characterized by loyalty, trust, and friendship is pure gold. Such an environment makes ministry so much fun. It also helps the team navigate the stormy waters ministry can bring.
At New Vintage Church, we hire and evaluate based on Hybels’ character, competency, chemistry, and one I’ve added–fit. A tongue issue is, according to James, to a character issue. It’s also an issue that creates chemistry issues–which also creates fit issues. Ministry is too precious to waste much energy looking over your shoulder at those who should have your back. Ministry is God’s holy work, and chronic verbal sin in the camp displeasing to God.
Hire people of character who you can trust and have abilities you can trust. It’ll make life easier, your church healthier, and your ministry much more effective.