An organization never surpasses its leadership, therefore the outcomes of a church’s ministry cannot outperform the ability of its leaders.
In fact, next to the favor of God, everything rises and falls on leadership.
The local church has a veritable army of leaders when you combine both staff and volunteers. The truth is that many of your high-capacity volunteer leaders function essentially like unpaid staff. That’s just part of the beauty of the body of Christ.
That said, this post will focus more on paid staff, but the content easily adapts.
Under God’s favor and power, when it comes to progress:
- Vision determines where you will go (direction)
- Strategy and structure determine the path you will take
- Staff determine if you will get there
Before we hit the seven unique character traits, here are three simple but foundational basics of staff you always want on your team. They:
- Love Jesus
- Love people
- Love serving
Now for the unique characteristics of highly valued staff.
1) They demonstrate maturity under pressure
Tough days and challenging seasons are common to leadership, but a soul-level maturity always helps us rise up to faithful and exemplary leadership, especially under pressure.
Under sustained pressure, it’s easy for emotions such as discouragement, frustration, or even anger to get the best of us. It is maturity that tames these emotions to a healthy stability, making continued good leadership possible.
Leadership maturity is the ability to still passionately lead the way, even when things don’t go your way.
If immaturity is ultimately self-focused, maturity allows a leader to put the good of others first.
2) They choose integrity in moments of temptation
When was the last time you were tempted? Five hours ago? Five days ago?
Church staff face temptations too.
Scripture makes it clear we will be tempted, it’s up to us how we respond, and if we possess the resolve of solid integrity that sustains trustworthy behavior.
Temptation knows no boundaries and none of us escape it. Whether major temptations that can derail a ministry or daily temptations than can lead to discouragement and defeat, we must be on our guard.
What temptation are you resisting these days?
Are you holding strong?
How’s your staff doing?
Integrity has a lot to do with how you live when no one is looking, but it’s also about being honest with others about your whole life, especially any part of your life that is unknown and therefore doubly susceptible.
3) They embody a grateful spirit even when life doesn’t go their way
Sometimes life can throw some pretty mean curveballs in our direction. Additionally, some of the important things we pray for don’t go like we hoped for.
In those circumstances it’s easy for gratitude to turn sour and fade, thereby creating discontentment in our souls.
Discontent leaves little room for gratitude, and an ungrateful soul into an empty soul, because it always wants more.
Staff who possess a consistently grateful spirit are among your most valuable players. They lift the atmosphere, bring a sense of positivity to a meeting, and are generous with what they know and what they have.
4) They embrace humility in tandem with confidence
Humble confidence stated in its most basic elements is the combination of belief that God is with you and belief in yourself.
Humility comes from knowing how desperately you need God, and belief in yourself is required to lead with confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either.
Humble confidence is seeing yourself the way God sees you, relying on His presence and power combined with an appreciation and development of your gifts and abilities.
Our flaws and faults keep us humble, but they also help build our confidence because we know God is with us and gives us grace and favor. Where we are weak, He makes us strong.
5) They possess a healthy sense of drive toward progress
Ambition can be a two-edged sword, worthy ambition vs unhealthy ambition. The complexity is that the line between the two is very thin and easy to unknowingly step over.
No one is inspired by a leader who lacks passion, has a casual attitude toward the vision, and treats progress like luck.
A staff member who leads with a healthy sense of drive toward vision-based progress, is a leader you always want on the team. But how do you know if they cross that fine line to unhealthy overdrive?
Here are some warning signs to watch for:
- The drive becomes performance motivated
- Little to no margin
- Key relationships including family begin to suffer
- Frequently feel exhausted even after a nights sleep
- Emotions are not managed well
- Poor decision-making (sometimes biased toward self-benefit)
Use the above list to help shepherd your staff well.
6) They maintain resilience in the face of setbacks
The year 2020 inaugurated the need for resilience at a whole new level. For many leaders, it was the first time that setbacks far exceeded their gains.
Obstacles will always be with us but there are some seasons that change the landscape and create an entirely new playing field where the rules have changed, and virtually nothing is predictable. In those seasons resilient leaders rise up.
Who are your most resilient staff members? My hunch is you can quickly name them.
- Find solutions in problems rather than problems in solutions.
- Complain little and contribute much.
- Quickly overcome discouragement and carry a heavy load lightly.
- Carry pressure well and have healthy pressure relief systems in their life.
- Cultivate healthy relationships and a good sense of humor
7) They pursue self-awareness as a foundation for growth
You might wonder, “At some point don’t mature leaders have a pretty strong sense of self-awareness?”
The answer is yes.
However, self-awareness is not a once-and-done process where we arrive at “self-aware.” Life is constantly changing around us, therefore we must all stay in touch with how we see the world, and how we are perceived as we lead.
This requires a life-long pursuit of self-awareness about how we perceive the changes going on around us, how we adapt to them, and how others perceive us in that process of change.
For the mature leader, these may be small adjustments, but we are wise to never assume we have arrived. We all have blind spots. We can’t see what we can’t see.
This post can serve as helpful fodder for a great discussion among your staff, or thoughts about how to develop your staff.