If people were given the opportunity to work anywhere in your city, would they consider working at your church? Does your staff say, “This is a great place to work.”? Or do they view it as a place to draw a paycheck? Every year our city newspaper runs a contest for the best places to work, and the last 3 years our church has showed up on the list. There are many reasons this is the case, but here are a few that stand out in particular.
We resolve conflict. Our staff is relentless about resolving conflict quickly and at all levels. Speaking badly about someone is simply not allowed. If someone is caught in the act, the standard procedure is to remind them they have 24 hours to go tell the person what they just said behind their back. If they don’t, we will force their hand and make sure they have the conversation. When passionate people are working hard there will always be some conflict. Rather than running from it or seeing it as a bad thing, our staff generally views conflict as a way to build unity. I recently made some comments in a meeting that hurt one of our administrative assistants. Later that day she came into my office and said, “I know this isn’t who you are, or who you want to be, but can I share with you the comments you made and how they affected me?” It led to a great conversation and a chance for me to ask forgiveness of her. She saw it as her responsibility to come to me personally, and our relationship is stronger because of it. When leaders don’t value or model Biblical conflict resolution, it creates a culture that can kill the mission of the church. When they demand and celebrate conflict resolution, it creates a place where people love to show up each morning.
We have fun. The work we do is serious, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. As a staff we laugh a lot. We play hard, and we have lots of competitions with many funny consequences for the loser. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see someone dressed as Elvis for the afternoon or see someone in an animal costume on roller skates delivering coffee to their team in the morning. Every year after our staff retreat, one of the things we always hear in the feedback is “That was a lot of fun.” Fun looks different in every culture, but if leaders make sure their organizations are fun places to work, their staff will look forward to coming to work every day. As Christians we have the tendency to minimize fun at church much to our own detriment.
We empower. A good leadership principal is to lead others the way you would like to be led. I’ve yet to meet someone who likes to be micromanaged or who thrives in an environment where they are. When someone starts a new role, there is plenty of direction, coaching, and oversight. Then, as time goes on, people increasingly feel empowered to lead and decide the specifics while working within the general parameters of the role in a way that is consistent with our values. This empowerment brings out the best in our staff. When people feel trusted, they begin to initiate, become creative, and will often surprise you. Not only that, but if this becomes your reputation, truly gifted people will want to work on your staff. We have several staff members who were successful working in the market place but are now deploying their gifts fully on our staff. Great leaders love to be empowered, and they tend to leave if they aren’t.
We love each other. There are many reasons our staff loves working at our church but the primary one is that they feel loved. This year, we actually won the category across all sizes of organizations for “Our employees feel appreciated.” There were other categories I wish we had also won, but this is the one, as Christians, in which I think we should have distinguished ourselves since “appreciation” is “business speak” for love. Jesus said in John 13:34-35 that the way we love each other should be our distinguishing characteristic. Our senior leaders model this incredibly well, and it has permeated every area of our staff. It doesn’t mean that everyone on staff is best friends, but there is a real Philippians 2:3-4 sense that the other person is more important regardless of position. This genuine love for one another is a real witness to our city and the engine that makes our staff culture go.
If your city held a contest for the best places to work, would your church show up on the list? If not, do you know what would need to change in order to do so? We have been given the ultimate example of servant leadership and love in Jesus. If we start loving our staff the way He loved His, then churches will be the best places in every city to work. And what a great testimony that would be to the rest of the world.
Copyright © 2015 by John McGee. Used by permission.
John McGee (@JohnMcGee) is the Director of Marriage Ministry and re|engage at Watermark Community Church in Dallas Texas. He is passionate about helping churches prepare, establish, enrich, and restore marriages in their communities.