A wise leader obsesses over having the right players on the team. A team filled with the right players is exponentially more effective than a team filled with the wrong players. Whether hiring employees or recruiting volunteers, I find it helpful to have a general framework from which you view potential team members.
Two of the most common frameworks are the Three (or Four) C’s and the Four E’s. Chick-Fil-A, Northpoint Community Church, and Bill Hybels all utilize the three C’s or a similar variation. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, popularized the Four E’s. Even if you do not systemize these in your recruiting, I believe they are helpful to keep in mind as you build a team. Over the next few days, I will offer some insights from these two frameworks:
Most important is character. I believe it trumps everything else on the list. A very talented person with little integrity is a hindrance to the ministry. There is no amount of training, skill, or charisma that can sufficiently cover for a lack of integrity. I look for character displayed in:
- Personal walk with the Lord: Does the person show a sense of awe and appreciation for the grace of God? Has he/she walked with the Lord consistently over time? Does he/she personally practice spiritual disciplines?
- Leadership of the family: According to Scripture, if a man cannot lead his family, he cannot lead the house of God. Does he/she display a healthy marriage? Does he/she manage finances with wisdom?
- Sense of responsibility: Does the person display a current sense of ownership for his/her current role?
- Relationships with others: How do his/her current leaders and colleagues view him/her? Do they view him/her as trustworthy and credible?
Character must never be minimized. When Paul challenged Timothy to hand ministry over to other men, he challenged him to recruit “faithful men who will be able” not “able men who will be faithful” (2 Tim. 2:2).
While character is crucial, competence is vital as well. Psalm 78:72 states of David, “He shepherded them with a pure heart and guided them with his skillful hands.” In other words, David possessed both character and competence.
In some ministry settings, competence is minimized in favor of “treating people with grace.” But it is not graceful to place people in roles or allow people to remain in roles in which they are not gifted. If the competence cannot be acquired or if the person is not gifted in a specific role, it is cruel to place him/her in the role. It is cruel to the person and it is not best for the ministry/organization.
A recent Harvard Business Review article emphasized the impact of having highly competent people. For example, the best developer at Apple is at least nine times as productive as the average software engineer. The best sales associate at Nordstrom sells at least eight times as much as the average sales associate, and the best transplant surgeon has a success rate six times that of the average transplant surgeon.
Because competence in one role may not equate to competence in another, you must analyze the track record of reproducible skills that translate from one role to another. Skill sets such as leading people, communication, creativity, problem solving, managing growth, and implementing systems to scale a ministry/organization are typically transferable from one setting to another. So identify the critical competencies for the role you are seeking to fill and ensure that those competencies are realized in the person you bring to the team.
Don’t place competence over character, but don’t ignore it either.
I have learned that it is very possible to have a highly skilled person with deep integrity who is not the right fit for the team. Sometimes the best players are not the right ones. Chemistry is crucial. I have also learned that the most fulfilled team members are people whose personal values are in close harmony with the values of the ministry or organization.
To check the chemistry, you must know the values of your team. And I don’t mean the ones that are written down but that no one knows—the ones buried in a folder or a long policy. I mean the real values. What is most important to your ministry? What are you willing to fight for? What values give your ministry the unique and distinct culture you have or are building? Share these values with the person, and look for validation that the person you are considering currently embraces these values.
If you are in a context where you are attempting to change the culture, then recruit people with those same values. One of the quickest ways to infuse the culture with those values is to bring people to the team who already have those values deep within their DNA.
Serving alongside people who live with a sense of conviction in their role is massively different from people who view their role merely as a profession. People who sense the Lord has called them to their respective roles offer much more than the minimal job requirements. They pour their souls into the ministry.
I fear that in our churches and in our ministries we have lost a sense of sacred conviction. I fear that with the professionalization of ministry, we have a higher number of job seekers and job fillers who lack the overarching sense of conviction that trumps what others would call sacrifice. Many thought missionary David Livingstone made significant sacrifices to be a missionary, yet he stated, “It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory, which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.” A team filled with people with that sense of conviction is unstoppable.
John Wesley said, “Give me ten men that hate nothing but sin and love nothing but God and we will change the world.” Wesley knew that the world would be rocked if such a group came together with a holy conviction.
So when you are considering bringing people to the team, try and talk them out of the role. Speak with passion about the sacred burden, the bigness of the vision, and even the difficulty of the situation that will require a leader who senses the Lord has called him/her to this role.
Or you can settle to have someone just fill a spot.