Do You Trust Your Team?

One of the many causes of burnout is trying to do too much on your own and not delegating to your team. Whether you’re the senior pastor or lead a ministry department, you can’t do it all by yourself. You need staff and/or volunteers to share the ministry load. However, you could have a team of fifty people and still be overwhelmed if you do not fully trust them to carry their share of the work. As Jethro told Moses,

So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. – Exodus 18:17-18

Developing a team you trust to excel in their assigned ministry area has many benefits.

When you trust your team…

  • You can delegate authority and responsibility not just tasks
  • You can confidently defer to their judgment on issues outside your expertise
  • You can take time off and not worry if Sunday services will go well in your absence
  • Your church can grow because not everything requires your direct effort or approval
  • Your team will rise to the occasion and feel like they’re truly ministers of the Gospel (not just order takers)
  • You setup your church for long-term health so that even when you leave (retirement, God calling you elsewhere, etc.), the church will continue to thrive because it wasn’t fully dependent on you

How do you develop trust?

#1 – Hire people you can trust

“We use at least twelve components in our hiring process. It takes an average of six to fifteen interviews and an average of ninety days from initial contact to hire.” – Dave Ramsey, Entreleadership

Hiring great people who have the skillset for the job, love the church, and fit your culture isn’t easy. Take your time with each new hire to prevent headaches and difficult conversations later. If you could use some help with the hiring process, consider using a search firm such as The Vanderbloemen Search Group.

#2 – Cultivate relationships with your team

Whether you hired your current team or inherited them, you need to get to know them as individuals…not just as worker bees.

  • When and how did they come to Christ?
  • What hobbies do they enjoy?
  • What motivates them?
  • Are they introverted or extroverted?
  • Are they married or single, have children, etc.?
  • Where do they see themselves in 5-10 years?
  • What are their greatest talents / skills?

When you know someone’s background, his interests, and her gifting, it’s much easier to know what you can trust him/her to handle. It also helps you lead more effectively.

#3 – Learn about their job

One advantage of consulting with churches is I get to hear from pastors and team members alike. I’ve heard pastors mention their frustration with how long it takes to create a video announcement or implement a new ministry program. I’ve also heard team members frustrated with leaders who want instant results or who frequently ask for a last minute “quick change”.

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

  • The pastor may not fully appreciate the effort involved in the creative and planning process or the technical aspects of the work.
  • The team may not really understand the pastor’s expectations and put too much effort into something that isn’t super important to him or they haven’t helped him understand the amount of lead-time they need to meet his expectations.

Pastor:

If you’re frustrated by how long it takes to get a video announcement ready or to develop a new event, sit in on a few planning meetings or shadow the team member in-charge as she shoots the video. Try to stay in the background and simply observe. You may realize your team is doing way too much because they think you expect something that you really don’t. OR… You may gain a whole new perspective on their work.

Team members:

You probably don’t have a full appreciation of how much effort goes into sermon preparation. The same principle applies to your pastor and his understanding of your work. Take a few minutes to explain why you need the amount of time you do and what you can produce within shorter time constraints.

Don’t say, “We can’t do that.” Instead, offer, “We can do (XYZ) but it I’m not sure we can fit in (ABC) by then as well. If so, it’ll be at “X” level of quality or the team will have to work every evening this week to make it happen. Is that what you want?”

That type of response communicates you’ve thought this through, you want to deliver a quality result, and are seeking direction.  This should get a good discussion going so you and your pastor can come to a decision that works for everyone.

These are just a few ways you can build trust with your team, so you can collectively grow your church without anyone burning out.

What else would you add to this list?

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