Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with pastors, youth pastors, staff, and volunteers from over 20 churches. There are many, many healthy situations when it comes to senior leadership teams. Healthy leaders are, of course, in the best position to lead healthy churches. Along the way though, I’ve identified some traps that can create challenges for both leaders and the ministries they lead.
Senior Leadership Team here are eight mistakes to avoid:
ADDING A FAMILY MEMBER WITHOUT CONSIDERING THEIR CAPACITY OR COUNTING THE COST: To improve the chances for success, let others make the hiring decision and provide leadership to that family member. And, frankly, I think it’s best if both family members are not on the senior leadership team together.
HIRING PERSONALITY RATHER THAN LEADERSHIP CAPACITY: There are lots of good people (fun people!) who aren’t necessarily the best leaders. There are roles for those folks, but it may not be on your senior leadership team.
ELEVATING SENIORITY OVER LEADERSHIP CAPACITY: I’ve been friends with some people for 10 years or more. The length of our relationship, though, doesn’t necessarily mean they are best positioned to serve in leadership with me. Just because you’ve served with someone for 5, 10, maybe even 20 years doesn’t mean they’re the right person for your leadership team either.
HIRING TO FILL ROLES: I found that the leaders I look up to typically think leadership capacity before job titles. You need the right people rather than the right positions.
GIVING SOMEONE LEADERSHIP RESPONSIBILITIES BEFORE THEY’VE PROVEN THEY HAVE THE CAPACITY FOR THE ROLE: This is a biblical principle. “Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader” (1 Timothy 5:22, NLT).I’m not saying to never give a “newbie” a chance. Rather what I’m saying is to see how they fit in certain areas of ministry (volunteer, etc) before you just appoint they “Director of….” or “Pastor of …)
ALLOWING COMPLAINERS TO STAY TOO LONG: Most of us try to avoid conflict! However, healthy conflict is a GOOD thing — that’s part of healthy teamwork. Constant complaining from someone who doesn’t fully embrace the vision, values, strategy and authority of the church, though, is never healthy.
FAILING TO EMPOER THE OTHER LEADERS: This includes leaders on the senior leadership team and leaders in other staff and volunteer roles in the ministry. When we try to control people, we’re denying them the opportunity to fulfill God’s mission for their lives and God’s plan for the church.
MEETING TOO OFTEN AND TOOOOOOO LONG: As I’ve looked for resources on this very issue, the best one I can recommend to read is ‘Death by Meeting’ by Patrick Lencioni. We need less talk and more action.
Some of you read that list and thought: “I have a problem.” “I have missed 2, 3, 6 of these things.” Being in ministry, this is obvious, but your first step is to begin praying about that situation. God wants healthy leaders and healthy churches as well. He’ll answer that prayer.