This post is addressed to staff members, not necessarily the pastor and his wife, but people who serve alongside a pastor with other staff families to help you know how to have good expectations with those you work with.
There is always transition of getting to know the people already working at the church or those that come into a position after you do. It takes time to know who they are and their personalities. Many people are disappointed with the personalities of their peers immediately while other people have a honeymoon of loving who they work with UNTIL (key scary dramatic music here) personality conflicts arise.
Being on church staff is no light matter. Learning to have the right expectations of your fellow staff members will help you be able to manage relationships and seek peace. Without peace there is confusion and every evil work (James 3:16) and the church where you serve could be marred because of pride and feuding.
Have no expectations. Walk into every ministry position with no expectations of those around you. Don’t expect to be best friends with people or have them even be your mentor or best friend. This may seem to lack feeling but honestly, if we look at our disappointments in past problems with people it is usually because we thought someone else should be something they were not.
Each person and relationship you have with people on staff will help you grow in some way. Allow yourself some time to be able to see how it will play out.
If you walk away from your time of working together on staff with a beautiful friendship then praise the Lord. If however you walk away from your time with feeling differently, then embrace it as a learning experience.
Expect differences. Not every family is the same so allow that although you may work at the same church, be involved in many of the same ministries and work of the church, that you may have different ideas about ministry, family, and how to carry out those things.
We get this idea that everyone MUST be the same as us, and that is not true. God creates each person to fulfill their work in the body of Christ in his or her own way according to His purpose with the talents and abilities He has given them. If you see gaps of character remember He’s still working on all of us! Each person will have some thing(s) in their life that you will probably not like 100% and the situation and guess what, that is how they feel about us.
Allow the other people on staff to have the freedom to be who they are and do things in their own way.
It’s okay for them to be different, and if their differences bother you or offend, then you have two choices: A. Pray about it. B. Go to them in the right spirit and attitude and approach them Biblically. Discuss the offense and move on.
Older people will have their reasons why they do things because they have experience. Young people may have vision but they are gaining experience. Step back and accept their differences as a part of God’s plan for your life. Pushing your preferences and philosophies on people in an uncaring way will usually result in others closing the door on your influence. Gentleness in dealing with differences usually influences greater than harshness.
Expect them to voice their opinion. Listen to them and give their thoughts consideration. If another staff member shares their heart with you, please listen to them carefully. Use the two ears and one mouth rule, listen before you speak and dole out your advice. They just might need a listening ear and nothing else.
Others will forcefully give opinions, whether you like it or not. If they give you constructive criticism, thank them, and allow some time to think about what they have said and ask the Lord to help you know how you should use their words in a good way. God can use their perspective to help you in your ministries. If the advice is not godly or helpful, then keep on keeping on.
Please understand that I’m not addressing the issue of another person on staff having different doctrinal differences than you or your pastor. At times there are things that will breech relationships in context to the Word of God, but we should always be Christian ladies and gentlemen in how we also deal with these issues. If you are concerned about doctrinal differences that another staff member may have then it would be wise to consult your pastor about these concerns.
Expect to learn from them. Each person in ministry that has truly been called to do God’s work has value to God and His work. The other people on your church staff may not do things like you would, but they still have things they are doing right for the Lord.
Evaluate their work, to yourself, and make notes on what you like about what they are doing with the youth group, music program, ladies meetings, etc. Put it in a file for later use. Ask them questions about how they accomplish what you like about their ministry.
Use your time together to benefit any ministry God could potentially call you to.
Expect to ask for forgiveness along the way. We are all guilty of pulling some crazy sinful stunts! If you have done something to hurt or offend your fellow staff member (or his wife, child, etc.) then it is your responsibility to make it right. It’s hard to humble yourself, but it will be worth it to keep the peace.
Problems can compound and you might not be liked by those around you if you are a frequent offender that does not admit the wrongs that you have committed toward others and try not to do them again. Repeat offenders can quickly make a small situation build up to be the elephant in the room that people do not know how to deal with.
Do you really want to make people feel awkward because you’ve caused a problem and you just won’t admit you’ve done something wrong and ask for forgiveness? I really hope not. If you don’t give a care, then I think there are some issues that need to be taken care of in your heart and with those you’re working with.
One of the biggest lessons you may learn from good relationships with fellow staff members is how to love people and minister to them in a different way than you would have without their perspective. One of the biggest lessons you may learn from bad relationships with fellow staff members is how NOT to treat people as you minister.
You may see the good, the bad, and the ugly from those you work with… but guess what, they see the good, bad, and ugly of you and your family too. Ministry is a unique situation because we expect that because we are Christians we will treat each other in the most logical and spiritual way possible 100% of the time. We must simply expect what God does out of people. God knows we will be sinners and will sin even after our salvation and maturity occurs. Do not be so surprised when problems come. And never, ever, ever, allow minor things to prevent you from staying in the ministry God has called you to.
You may not choose who you serve beside but you get to choose how you will make the moments of your service together be. I dare you to choose right expectations and find the good in the people God has placed you with on this journey of your life!