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Monday, October 08, 2007

What if they just don't get it?


The post on seminarian attitudes generated some interesting phone calls and emails. One pastor told me about a staff person who, in his words, "just doesn't get it." I won't go into the particulars, because that might give away the pastor and the particular staff position. But the point he made to me was that his staff person is a really nice guy who loves Jesus. He is faithful, but not a real hard worker. He puts in his time and then is gone. When the pastor plants a new idea, he gets a nodding affirmation and nothing more.
"So", the pastor asked me, "Do I let him go, turning him into one more ministry casualty you talked about, or do I ease up and live in a posture of grace and accept mediocrity?" Yikes, that's a tough one. Do we hold staff members to a higher standard of performance than the congregation? When congregational members work 40+ hours a week and then give their time above and beyond to the church, shouldn't staff members do the same? Or is that overbearing?
Over the years I have known two types of staff persons: those who grab their positions and dream beyond them, and those who put in the minimum time and go home. Dreamers push limits and stretch budgets, the others get their jobs done, but not a lot more.
Where are the intersecting lines between a lifestyle of grace that accepts persons unconditionally and stewardship & discipleship that calls us deeper and farther? Do we shield workers who are not pulling their weight and who do not "get" what needs to be done? Are we not maybe doing them a bigger disservice by not letting them know about their mediocre performance? One older pastor whom I talk with told me that his biggest reward was that all his former staff persons are still friends with him. One the one hand I deeply admire that, and on the other hand I wonder if he was as honest with his staff as he should have been?
A tool we used in Minneapolis was an evaluation called a "360". A "360" was an evaluation form with about 20 questions rating performance from a low 1 to a high 5. Each staff person (full-time) gave out up to 10: equally giving them to those who reported to him/her, his/her professional peers, lay persons, council leaders, and then from his/her superivisor and church chairperson. This was an excellent discussion tool and reality check. Problems were flagged early when a staff person rated his/her perfomance significantly higher than that of the others in the pool. It would be great if a tool like this was made widely available in the denomination for use in churches with multiple staffs or even solo-pastors.
I don't want to be one who "just doesn't get it."

3 Comments:

At 10:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You took the words right out of my mouth..."he just doesn't get it!". Can a person be an effective Pastor if he/she delivers thoughtful, God-inspired sermons with a sound theological foundation, but isn't able to connect or communicate well with people?

 
At 11:36 AM , Blogger Rev. Johnny Agurkis said...

I find it a bit troubling that the pastor's comment was "Do I let him go, turning him into one more ministry casualty you talked about, or do I ease up and live in a posture of grace and accept mediocrity?" How about neither? How about taking on a Barnabas-like mentality and seeing part of the Senior (I'm assuming it was a Senior Pastor) Pastor's job as one of mentor to the staff positions, with the ultimate goal of helpin them to become more than they are now, and hopefully, even more than the mentor?

 
At 9:03 PM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Good and wise word Johnny! Mentoring does, however need the persmission from the mentee(sp??). My friend's staff person is not real open to mentoring guidance from the sr. pastor, which makes it tough. Obviously they need far better communication than they have now.

 

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