How To Know When It Is Time To Leave

It’s one of the toughest decisions you will ever have to make:  Leaving a church you have been serving as a staff member.  It’s a decision that should NEVER be made cavalierly and never without much prayer and consideration.

I have seen many staff members leave too early and short circuit what God was wanting to do in them during a process of seasoning and learning.  But, I have also seen many staff members stay longer in a situation than they should have.  By doing so, they ended up hurting the church and their family in the process.

Here are a few ways you can know it might be time to resign the position you are serving in…

1)  When you no longer personally respect your pastor or team.

Whether it is your fault or theirs, if you have lost respect and cannot gain it back – you will do more harm than good by staying on the team.

2) When you can’t support and agree with them publicly

We will always have disagreements with our pastor or other staff.  It’s impossible to agree on everything.  But, we should always disagree in private!  When in a public setting, you MUST show agreement and solidarity.  If you are unable to do so despite your best prayer and effort, then you need to leave before you cause damage to the body of Christ.

3)  When you or your spouse become cynical or critical in your spirit

If you get to the point where you are cynical in your spirit and can’t seem to clear it out, then you should leave.  To continue to follow someone you don’t trust is damaging to them and to you.

4)  When you are no longer challenged to grow

When you get to the point where you have grown as far as you can at the current location, it might be time to consider moving on.

5)  When you don’t like being around your pastor or team

This doesn’t mean one person or another gets on your nerves one day.  However, if you find yourself consistently avoiding relational time with your staff or pastor, that is unhealthy.  If prayer and loving confrontation don’t solve it, then it is better to leave than poison the entire community.

6)  When you think you can do a better job than pastor

I have found that when a staff member has this feeling, MOST of the time it is the staff member’s fault – not the pastor’s.  However, if this feeling persists despite your best efforts to squelch it, then you can mark it down – you have lost all respect for your pastor.  No matter what the reason, you owe it to your pastor to resign and allow him to hire someone who respects him.

I am not one who advocates leaving on a whim.  I can’t stand the fact that the studies show the average length of stay for a church staff member is 18-24 months.  However, there are times that “sticking it out” can do more harm than good.  No matter what, never make the decision without bathing it in prayer and seeking wisdom from spiritual authority.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Ten Common Mistakes Church Staff Members Make

If you work (or have worked) on a multiple member staff at a local church, you know that it is very difficult to maintain unity and cohesion among the team.  Much of the reason for that are some of these common mistakes made by church staff members.  Browse the list and give yourself a check-up…

1)  Competing with other staff members.

In staff meeting, they look for opportunities to shoot each other down.  They make the mistake of thinking that to make yourself look good, you have to make them look bad.  That’s not a team.

2)  Using “cut-down” humor – in a public setting

Even when it’s truly a joke between staff members, cut-down humor has no place in a public setting.  Those you lead are watching you.  If you don’t honor each other, they won’t honor you either.  Model the behavior you want them to follow.

3)  Using E-mail for conflict resolution

Bad idea.  E-mail doesn’t communicate emotion well (that’s why they invented those stupid emoticons).  When you may have been trying to say something one way, it can come across totally differently.  The best way to apologize or confront an issue is “Face to Face”; then, you can clear up a misunderstanding quickly without losing friendship

4)  Assuming motives of others

Staff members should always give each other the benefit of the doubt.  When someone wrongs you, assume it was an accident unless proven otherwise.  If you are going to assume a motive, assume the BEST motive.  When the youth pastor takes the van when you had it reserved for your event, don’t immediately assume he “didn’t care about my event or think it was important.”  Assume he just forgot to check the calendar.

5)  Being Defensive

Often we are not very receptive to correction or input from other staff members.

6)  Seeing a weakness and not telling them

If done in the spirit of love and teamwork, it’s not “mean” to help other team members succeed by helping them see their weaknesses.  It is actually CRUEL to allow them to continue to sink in leadership because of a glaring weakness you see but refuse to point out.

7)  Not using the strengths of other staff members

When you are weak in an area, ask for help from a fellow staff member who is strong in that area.  The worst thing you could do is try to fix it yourself simply because you are too proud to admit you need help.

8)  Taking another staff member’s side against the senior pastor or other staff members

9)  Over-promising and under-delivering instead of under-promising and over-delivering

It’s great to be willing to help your fellow team members, but promising to do something and not coming through is worse than not being available in the first place

10)  Not taking the cues that it’s the right time to leave

It’s a tough truth, but chances are you won’t serve the church you are currently serving for the rest of your ministry life.  Often one of the biggest mistakes staff members make is staying beyond the time that they should.  How do you know when it is time?  That’s another post altogether (find it right here).

How’d you do?  Have you made some of these mistakes lately?  It’s time to fix it.  Are there other common mistakes that I missed?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

“The Eric Trap” Book Review

I am very pleased to be able to talk about The Eric Trap, a new book written by Jim Wideman, Sam Luce, Kenny Conley, and several others.  I received a copy a week or so ago and immediately began diving into it.  I have to say, I was blown away by it.

Here are the things I LOVED about The Eric Trap:

1)  It is written as a leadership fable. If you are not familiar with this style of writing (a la Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard, and others), it is told as a fictional story of Eric Newman.  Eric is a regular guy who finds himself reeling from the demands and expectations of Kids Ministry.  It’s easy to read.  You learn as Eric learns.

2)  The main character is easy to relate to.  Eric is you.  Eric is me.  Eric is the Kidmin Leader we all have been at some point in our journey.  I felt a connection to Eric within the first couple of paragraphs.  I found myself truly caring about Eric and the pain he was going through.  That is what good writing does.  This book is well-written and compelling.

3)  The lessons are impacting.  The book deals with “five things every leader has to get right.”  Each of these lessons are learned by Eric along the way.  From learning how to balance ministry and family to serving under a Lead Pastor and carrying his/her vision, these lessons ARE things that every Kidmin Leader must get right if they want to accomplish God’s best in their ministry.

The only thing I wish was different with the book is that it is not COMPLETELY a leadership fable.  Periodically, the story of Eric is broken up with select lessons from successful Kidmin Leaders.  Don’t get me wrong – these lessons are phenomenally written and are very helpful.  I just wish the content could have been worked more into the story rather than having to continually pop out of the story in order to do practical teaching.

Bottom line – The Eric Trap is a well-written book that will appeal to much more than just Kidmin Leaders.  It serves as a guidebook for every new staff pastor getting into ministry.  Male or female.  Long-term or short-term.  Kids Ministry or Student Ministry.  Everyone can learn from Eric Newman and help themselves NEVER to fall into the “Eric Traps.”

* The official release date of the book is APRIL 25th.  For more info check out the official website.

Computer Brains

I have to admit – as a Christian kid growing up in the 80s I was a big Petra fan.  The other day, the song “Computer Brains” from Petra’s “Beat The System” album came on my iPod.  I started thinking about the truth of that song.  It was powerful.

Here’s the truth:  our minds are like a computer.  Remember the old computer acronym, “GIGO” (Garbage In, Garbage Out)?  You have to be very careful when you program a computer.  Even the smallest error will produce flawed results.  In other words, the results produced by the computer will be no better than the quality of the programming.

People are the same way.  What goes in is what comes out.  Psychologists say that we tend to become what we think about most.  Proverbs 23:7 says it this way, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

My question for you is:  What kind of input are you receiving?  The quality of your input determines the quality of your output.

If you want a positive attitude to come out, put positive information in.  Hang around positive people, not complainers.  If you want thoughtful, courteous, helpful words to come out, you better make sure the input you are receiving matches that desired output.

What kind of books/blogs do you read?  What kind of music do you listen to?   What kind of people do you go to lunch with?  What kind of conversations do you have on break?  Do all of these INPUTS help you grow and become a better person/leader?  If not, it’s time for a change!

Remember, your brain is like a computer – only much more complex.  Control your input, and your output will take care of itself.

I Started The Process Of Dying Today

I realize I might have startled some of you with the title of this post.  No, I do not have a sickness – nor am I physically dying in any way.  I apologize if I gave some of you a panic.

Today, Good Friday, the day we remember the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross over 2,000 years ago – I began a journey with many people in my church.  It is a thirty day challenge called “LIVE DEAD.”

“LIVE DEAD” is a challenge to live life wholly for Jesus.  To die to self, knowing God will do a greater work through you.  It is a devotional book that has writings from many missionaries to East Africa.  It challenges us to give a “tithe” of our time each day (for 30 days) to God in prayer, study of the Word, worship, and interceding for the 40% of our world’s population that have NEVER heard the name of Jesus.  I know that figure sounds astounding, but you can learn more about it on the LIVE DEAD website.

Why do I share this with you?  First, for accountability.  By publicly declaring my intentions, I believe it will keep me that much more focused on the goal.  Second, to bring awareness to each Christian about the need for all of us to LIVE DEAD.  Christ died so that we could live, yes.  He also commanded each of us to die to self.

On this Good Friday, I pray that you will be reminded that it’s not about what we can GET from Jesus, it is about what we can GIVE to Him.  To honor Him.  To honor His reason for leaving Heaven and coming to Earth.  That reason:  “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)

Winners of the “I Blew It!” giveaway!

Thanks to all of you who participated in our big giveaway that ended March 31st.  Many of you helped get the word out and many new subscribers were added to the BLOG.  Welcome to everyone!  Here are your winners:

Joe Hegedus of New Jersey

Nancy Freiling of Virginia

Pamela Bartley of Kentucky

Neil Hancock of Georgia

Lisa Grace

Each of them are receiving a FREE copy of my book, “I Blew It!”   If you would like more info about the book, click HERE!  Keep your eyes open for more winning opportunities.

In the meantime, help me spread the word about the BLOG.  We are still young – not even a year old.  We depend on you to help get the word out so we can connect and be a blessing to as many Kids Ministry leaders as possible.  Help us by posting something on Twitter or Facebook with a link to http://www.briandollar.com – share how the blog has been a blessing to you.  Thanks everyone!