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Six Considerations Before You Fire Your Pastor This Christmas

Am I the Grinch trying to steal Christmas? No way. Bah. Humbug. I simply want to uncover a dark reality of which many church members have little knowledge: many pastors are being fired this Christmas season. I know. I see it every year. I deal with it every year. To be clear, I cannot be certain pastor terminations accelerate at Christmas. Perhaps the numbers seem high since the timing is so insidious. Regardless, these considerations apply regardless of the time of year.
  1. Many pastor firings occur because one or a few malcontents are spreading rumors. Please check the sources of these rumors. Please ask people other than the malcontents and bullies.
  2. A number of pastor firings occur due to underhanded actions by other staff. I know of one situation where the executive pastor did not like the leadership of the pastor, so he worked in darkness with the personnel committee to get the pastor fired. The personnel committee never asked for the pastor’s side of the conflict.
  3. Many pastors are fired without any explanation. I am surprised how often this reality transpires. Typically, the personnel committee or similar group tells the pastors they will not get a severance if they challenge them or question them.
  4. Very few pastors get adequate severance when they are fired. It typically takes several months for a pastor to find a job. Severance often runs out before then.
  5. Your church is labeled as a “preacher-eating” church. Your church’s reputation and witness are hurt in the community. You will wonder why other pastors decline to interview for the open position. They know. They’ve heard what you did.
  6. If you had been willing to be patient and Christ-like, pastors would likely seek another job without your firing them. If you let pastors know their job is in jeopardy and give them six to nine months to find another position, many will do so. Pastors can always find another church much easier if they have a church. And the church avoids the pain, conflict, and dirtied reputation that comes with firing a pastor.
So why did I write this article in the midst of the Christmas season? The answer is simple. I am working with three pastors who have been terminated almost identically as the points I noted above. I don’t want to rain on your Christmas parade, but these three families are already hurting deeply. I wanted you to hear the other side of the story. Let me hear from you. Read the full article Six Considerations Before You Fire Your Pastor This Christmas that appeared first on ThomRainer.com. Used by permission.

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2 Views on Hiring from Inside/Outside

A role is open on your team. Is your first inclination to hire from outside your organization or to hire from within? Most leaders have a default position on this issue, where their mind initially goes. They either tend to think first about hiring someone from within or they think first about what type of person they can find outside the organization. In the end, they may not do what they first think, but their default is to lean toward hiring from either outside or inside. It is important to understand both views so you can appreciate the strength of each view. And then you can decide for yourself which view will be your own OR you can choose the third way and do as Jay-Z once penned: “I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.”

View One: Hire from the Outside

Those who think first about hiring from the outside often do so because they value fresh perspective and fresh eyes. Those who prefer to hire externally have a fear that the culture will grow stagnant by simply recycling the same people into different roles. Jeff Immelt, who served as CEO of General Electric in recent years, increased external hires significantly during his tenure. From 2009-2016, external hires increased 60% at GE. Immelt believed a new type of employee and a new type of talent was needed for that important season in their company, so he ramped up external hiring.

View Two: Hire from the Inside

As I was writing this, I asked my youngest daughter, Evie, which view she thought was best. She said, “From the inside because you already trust the person.” Not bad for an eight-year-old, and she is exactly right. Those who advocate hiring from within point out that every hire is a risk, and hiring from within minimizes the risk because trust around character and chemistry has already been established. The person clearly already believes in the mission and has proven to be trustworthy. An additional benefit of hiring from within is the leadership development culture that is cultivated. Hiring from within can help send the signal that “we build our leaders instead of buying them.”

Past the Fork in the Road: Look at the Context

The third view is to discipline yourself to think first about the context. While I lean toward hiring from within because I am committed to developing leaders for the future, looking at the context is where I believe it is best to land. Context should drive whether you hire internally or externally. The needs of the organization at the time, the focus of the role for the next season, and the desire for cultural transformation or cultural sustainability all impact the immediate context surrounding the hire. John Kotter has wisely offered, and I am paraphrasing, “If you want to change the culture, hire from the outside. If you want to sustain the culture, hire from the inside.” Read the full article 2 Views on Hiring from Inside/Outside that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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Two Views: Severance and Financial Support for a Fallen Leader

I have enjoyed and benefited from the theological books that present multiple views on important theological vantage points. They have helped provide clarity on differing positions and caused me to research further and even challenge my own viewpoints. Today I want to offer two different views on severance or financial support for a fallen ministry leader. This is such a narrow and practical topic that it should not be a book, but there are multiple views on how to treat a fallen ministry leader financially. In recent years I have been asked numerous times for my thoughts on severance or financial support for a leader after the leader has been disqualified. There are two polar opposite views, and there are some who work hard to take a middle position or a third-way approach. Of course, each situation is different and there are levels of disqualifying behavior, but here are the two general views, the latter being the one I hold:

View one: Stop paying the ministry leader immediately.

Some have articulated cutting the leader off from financial support immediately. Multiple reasons are given for the approach. By cutting the leader off, the leader is forced to feel the weight of the sin and perhaps more likely to hit “rock bottom” more quickly. We have all seen leaders push through their fall with pride and blaming of others, so this approach holds that anything that helps a leader wake up to reality is a good thing. Another reason people hold to this view is the desire for justice among those who have financially supported the ministry. They discover that they have been financially supporting the leader while sinful and distracting behavior was consuming the leader, so they can feel as if their generosity was taken for granted. The leaders who remain feel they can regain some credibility with supporters and donors by not allowing any more financial resources to be invested in someone who took paychecks while living a double life.

View two: Be as generous as possible, especially to the family.

While I understand the motivation and the thinking behind the first view, I land on the second view, which is to be as generous as possible to the fallen leader and the leader’s family, even if the leader is not yet fully repentant. (Some have articulated generosity if there is repentance as the third option.) I hold to this view for multiple reasons. For one, it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and I hold to the hope that God will overwhelm the fallen leader with His grace, and perhaps, depending on the offense and the process of restoration, restore the leader to some type of ministry position in the future. Also, I think of the family of the fallen leader. They are in the midst of extreme pain as their world has been radically impacted. Most of the time they had no clue of the disqualifying behavior and are holding on moment by moment after hearing the devastating news. In many cases, they have depended on the ministry leader’s role for food on the table and clothes on their backs. They are suffering immensely, and I want the ministry to think about them as the leader is removed from the role. I wish we did not have to wrestle with this topic, but if you are leading a team you will likely be confronted with the issue of severance for a fallen leader someday. Regardless of which view we hold, we surely find ourselves saying, “Come, Lord Jesus, and fix this mess.” Read the full article Two Views: Severance and Financial Support for a Fallen Leader that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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2 Views on Hiring Friends

Should you hire a friend to work for you? If you are sitting among a group of leaders and that question is posed, you get a variety of responses, each with a heavy dose of passion.

“Don’t hire anyone you can’t let go.”

“Life is too short to serve alongside people you don’t like. So, yes.”

“You can’t be friends with people you lead.”

“You must be friends with people you lead.”

“It works great. Until it doesn’t.”

“Trust makes teams more effective, so hiring someone you trust is great.”

Thoughts about hiring friends are typically passionate thoughts because leaders have benefited greatly from doing so or been hurt deeply by doing so. This is a subject where there is little middle ground. So here are the two views, presented as objectively as possible, followed by my personal take. As a leader, you are responsible to form your own thoughts on the matter:

View One: Hiring Friends Is a Big Blunder

Those who view “hiring friends” as a mistake can arrive at that conclusion practically or experientially. Practically speaking, those who oppose hiring a friend believe objectivity is lost if you do so. You won’t be able to hold the friend accountable, they argue, in the same way you would hold someone else accountable. Or you could even overcorrect on decisions regarding salary and other benefits to prove you are not showing favorites, which in turn isn’t fair to the person. Those who get to the conclusion experientially have been hurt. Perhaps a close relationship is no longer as close after the hiring. Great friends, they argue, don’t always make great coworkers.

View Two: Hiring Friends Is a Big Blessing

Those who view “hiring friends” as a great opportunity likewise can arrive at that conclusion practically or experientially. Practically speaking, those who advocate hiring friends, point to the importance of trust on a team. In many cases it takes years to build solid trust among leaders. Hiring a friend, they believe, can speed that process up exponentially. Teams who trust each other move exponentially quicker. Those who have hired friends and have enjoyed the experience are likely to advocate for the practice. They point to the healthy relationships, the memories, and the blessing of being able to work alongside people you will know and love your whole life.

So Where Do I Land?

I understand the view of not hiring friends and have heard that view articulated well many times. I am not saying there are not risks involved. But I believe that the risks are worth it. Hiring friends is a blessing. Trust is high and you are able to enjoy life and work together without needing to view life and work as overly distinct (they have never been for me). On my team now are several friends with whom I have served in multiple cities. I won’t hire all my friends (some would never work for me), but I love it when I can. Read the full article 2 Views on Hiring Friends that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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3 Common Ways Leaders Disqualify Themselves

With the recent passing of the great preacher and evangelist Billy Graham, many are celebrating his finishing well. He remained faithful to God’s call on his life, fought the good fight, and finished the race. He avoided scandal and accusations against his integrity and was above reproach as he faithfully served the Lord throughout his life and ministry. We should be thankful for the example. And Billy Graham’s example stands in stark contrast to what, at times, seems to be epidemic among leaders—tragic, self-inflicted disqualification. Leaders seem to be disqualifying themselves at alarming rates, and if you disqualify yourself from leading, one of these three failures will be true:

1. Moral Failure

Coaches, politicians, teachers, pastors, and other leaders are routinely disqualified because of moral failure—failing to live up to the moral standard of the office they hold. Often those who own their sin and turn from it later confess a slow and consistent weakening of their character before their moral failure was fully born. The moral failure is the outer manifestation of a heart that has wandered from a deep commitment to leading oneself. Billy Graham’s commitment to his own personal integrity was applauded by some and mocked by others, but the fruit cannot be denied. The practice of avoiding being alone with someone from the opposite sex other than your spouse has been called “The Billy Graham Rule” because of his commitment to do all he could to avoid even a hint of questioning his character or his commitment to his wife. Because our hearts are prone to wander and none of us are above falling, we must daily turn from trusting ourselves and turn to trusting the Lord to keep us pure.

2. Ethical Failure

Leaders often disqualify themselves for ethical lapses. It is common to read of a leader who has been released from his or her duties for violating policies, for lying about one’s educational or professional accomplishments, for using the role for personal advancement, or for abusing the power of the office. Those who ask the leader to step down know that when a leader loses trust, the leader loses the ability to lead effectively. And seemingly small ethical lapses will likely degenerate into larger ones. Perhaps the best counsel I have received came in terms of ethical decisions in a leadership role from a Christian CFO of a large company. It is a cliché but true: “If it is gray, stay away.” In other words, don’t risk your leadership for something that is unclear.

3. Relational Failure

In recent years more and more leaders have disqualified themselves for leading with anger, for manipulating, and for creating relational strife and disunity among those they lead. In leadership, healthy relationships matter. Without them, trust quickly erodes. If you sense yourself waning in patience with those you serve alongside, get out of the office and take a break. If you sense your heart growing cold, don’t ignore it. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Forgive and seek forgiveness. Read the full article 3 Common Ways Leaders Disqualify Themselves that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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4 Types of People on Your Team (Only One Is Effective)

In his classic work Pensees, Blaise Pascal profoundly wrote:

Four kinds of persons: zeal without knowledge; knowledge without zeal; neither knowledge nor zeal; both zeal and knowledge. The first three condemned him. The last acquitted him, were excommunicated by the Church, and yet saved the Church.

Clearly Pascal was affirming those who are filled with both knowledge and zeal. Those with both knowledge and zeal, according to Pascal, are the ones who saved the Church, and those without both qualities are the ones who condemned Jesus. Applying Pascal’s framework to leadership, there are two essential qualities in all great leaders: Intentionality (knowledge) and intensity (zeal). In your context, you have met these four types of people. And only one of them is really effective.

1. The Internal Consultant (Intentionality without intensity)

I have been a consultant and benefit currently from utilizing consultants, so I am not bashing the discipline. Consultants help you with clarity and with understanding that leads to an intentional direction. They are valuable. But internal consultants attempt to speak into the work without doing any of the work. They come with ideas but lack the intensity to implement any ideas. You don’t want people on the team who offer their heads but not their hearts and their hands.

2. The Chaos Creator (Intensity without intentionality)

The chaos creator wakes up ready to execute something today. And something entirely different tomorrow. Sometimes the “something different” is actually in the opposite direction, but the chaos creator does not care. A person on the team who is passionate yet lacking in wisdom easily creates unnecessary work for everyone else.

3. The “Why Are You Here?” Guy (Neither intentionality nor intensity)

Once you see a person without intentionality or intensity, it is hard to un-see what you have seen. Neither great ideas nor passion for the mission are brought to the table. Meh. You can’t help but wonder why the person is still around. Surely there is some mission or cause in the world that person can be excited to join.

4. The Person You Trust (Both intentionality and intensity)

Intentionality coupled with intensity makes a leader very credible. And not only the leader but any person on the team. The person you trust, the person who adds incredible value, who makes everyone else better, is the person who is both intentional and intense. This person deploys thinking, energy, and skill in the same direction. People who are passionate about what matters most are highly effective. Read the full article 4 Types of People on Your Team (Only One Is Effective) that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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4 Essentials When Bringing New People on a Team

Growing up in the New Orleans area meant my mom became really skilled at cooking gumbo. It is amazing. While the roux is the part of the gumbo that impacts its taste the most, each new ingredient alters the taste. Add shrimp or crab and the taste changes. Throw in okra or a bell pepper and the taste is altered. In many ways, a team is similar to gumbo. Just like the roux, the culture of the team—the conviction and values that guide the team—impacts the team the most. But just as each additional ingredient impacts the whole pot, each new person who joins the team alters the entire team as well. At times I have mistakenly approached onboarding new team members too casually in my leadership, assuming that the healthy team would easily ingest a new team member who was aligned in mission and values and skilled for the assignment. But bringing people onto an existing team requires intentionality and care. Here are four essentials in doing so:

1. Remind others on the team to pursue.

The leader who brings the person to the team is typically the first one to pursue the new team member, the one to share vision and values, the first one to establish a relationship, which will be important for working together. But a new team member is not only joining the leader; the new team member is joining the team. A healthy team will pursue relational connections with new team members, but the leader should encourage the team to do so.

2. Assign new and existing team members to solve a problem together.

Solving problems together builds trust and unity more than trust falls and retreats. When a new person joins the team, assign a problem to the new person and others on the team to solve together.

3. Invite new and existing team members to pursue a goal together.

Similar to solving problems together, pursuing a shared goal together will unite a new team member to those who have already been on the team. Because the existing team has been together, the new member is going to hear inside jokes, past stories, and important tales from the group’s history. If there is not a new goal, that is all the person will hear. So going after a new goal together helps the new person understand there is a place for him or her.

4. Establish early wins.

When someone joins the team, have the conversation with the new team member about what the priorities should be the first few months. While there is nothing magical about the length of the “first 90 days,” leaders use that phrase for a reason—starting well is important. Read the full article 4 Essentials When Bringing New People on a Team that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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One Leader on 5 Traits to Look for When Hiring/Promoting

There are many helpful hiring frameworks, tools that help a leader find the right people. For a long time, I (and many others) have used a version of the four C’s: Character, Competence, Chemistry, and Capacity. I enjoy reading and learning from what other leaders look for when they bring people onto their teams. In Ram Charan’s latest book, The High Potential Leader, he mentions a hiring lens/view of a leader that he believes is exceptional at managing and developing leaders. Tony Palmer, president of global brands and innovation at Kimberly-Clark, looks for the following five traits when hiring or promoting:
  1. Learning agility
  2. Cultural acuity
  3. Execution without authority
  4. Desire or hunger
  5. Ability to develop others
Let me add my own commentary to these traits and why I think this is a helpful framework. Coincidentally, in copious ways Palmer’s counsel complements the character, competence, chemistry, capacity construct (c what I did there?).

1. Learning agility

Because an organization or ministry will change, adapt, and grow, people who can learn new skills and adjust are essential for the team. Because things change, it is critical to bring people on the team who show capacity to take on new responsibilities.

2. Cultural acuity

Similar to learning agility, Palmer describes cultural acuity as being able to put oneself in different situations and adjust. Great leaders adjust to the people they are leading; they don’t insist everyone adjusts to them.

3. Execution without authority

When lots of people are involved, the reporting lines are not always crystal clear and things are often very fluid. The ability to execute in a fluid environment is a key competency.

4. Desire or hunger

Many believe that skills can be developed, but passion cannot be. People who are not passionate and hungry for their roles will stifle the whole team.

5. Ability to develop others

If leaders are not developing others, the mission will be hampered. And it takes more than one senior leader to develop people; it takes a culture of leadership development. Thus, it is critical to hire and promote people committed to the task. Read the full article One Leader on 5 Traits to Look for When Hiring/Promoting that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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Are You Thinking of Hiring This Guy, Jimmy?

I was recently in a large meeting with my friend Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, and we watched a video of a local church student ministry leader who was speaking both passionately and strategically about discipleship. I saw Jimmy take out his phone and start to type notes, so…. Me: “You are thinking of trying to hire this guy, aren’t you?” Jimmy: “We are always looking for people who can lead like that.” Me: “Student ministry leaders are sometimes the best leaders.” Jimmy: “In most churches, it is the only role that does everything a senior pastor does. They teach the Bible to groups, recruit leaders, manage resources, counsel families, prepare and plan, and even perform weddings and funerals.” Jimmy is right. The experience of student ministry prepares leaders well for other roles if the Lord leads the person to move into another role. If someone serves faithfully in a student ministry context, the person will be well prepared to serve faithfully in another context. Confession: Jimmy and I are also likely to feel this way because we both are former student pastors. Effective student ministry leaders faithfully fulfill at least four critical assignments in their roles, and these four assignments are absolutely essential in other ministry roles.

1. Steward

In his letter to Titus, the apostle Paul called the overseer “God’s administrator” or “God’s steward” (Titus 1:7). Student ministry leaders manage budgets and steward resources the church entrusts to them. How leaders manage the resources entrusted to them now is a great indication of how they will manage future resources.

2. Equipper

According to the apostle Paul, the role of a ministry leader is not to perform all the ministry but to prepare others for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). Effective student ministry leaders don’t feverishly attempt to meet every need, but they develop a team of leaders to effectively serve and shepherd students.

3. Shepherd

While people must be equipped so the body cares for one another, a loving shepherd is burdened that the sheep receive care and compassion. The apostle Peter challenged pastors to willingly and freely shepherd God’s people (1 Pet. 5:2). Effective student ministry leaders shepherd students through critical years of development in the midst of a challenging cultural context. In other words, effective ministry leaders smell like sheep.

4. Theologian

The apostle Paul warned elders to “be on guard for the flock” because “men will rise up with deviant doctrines to lure the disciples” (Acts 20:28-30). Effective student ministry leaders guard the faith that “was delivered to the saints once and for all” (Jude 3), and they do so in a culture that is increasingly skeptical. In other words, student ministry leaders learn how to apply the truth of God to people who are daily assaulted with messages that contradict the truth of the gospel. Faithful and effective student ministry leaders are able to move into a myriad of other roles if the Lord leads them to do so. How do you know if one can? Well, how ministry leaders approach these four aspects of their roles is a great indication of how they will approach another role. Read the full article Are You Thinking of Hiring This Guy, Jimmy? that appeared first on EricGeiger.com. Used by permission.

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Transitional Pastor Program ‘Great Way to Help Churches’

The time between one person leaving a position and a new person moving into that role is a good opportunity to do some evaluating and refreshing — and this is true for church ministry positions as well. The Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM) offers assistance with this exact concept through its transitional pastor program, designed to help churches during interim periods to evaluate their ministries and to prepare for the coming of their new pastor. Some 60 ministers and ministry leaders, primarily from Alabama, gathered at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in Talladega in April to learn more about the program and the work of transitional pastors. (continued…) Read the full article from The Alabama Baptist newspaper – http://www.thealabamabaptist.org/transitional-pastor-program-great-way-to-help-churches/

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