A kind word goes a long way. You and I both know, lead pastor, how difficult ministry can be. We deal with some gritty stuff – in hospital rooms, counseling sessions, committee meetings, nitpicking… you know the drill. Ministry can beat one down. We have seen our colleagues burnout at an alarming pace. In this environment, a word of appreciation, can make a world of difference. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Personally thank your staff members: Please, lead pastor, thank your staff often. Don’t generate a list of thank you’s in your annual report and call it good. When something extraordinary happens in my ministry area, let me know you appreciate it. When you see me putting in extra time and effort, tell me you noticed. When you hear me chatting with a congregant and like what I’m saying, stop by my office the next day and let me hear it. I need to hear you appreciate what I contribute to the ministry. Those kind words are the encouragement I need to persevere when stress is high.
- Share your appreciation with the congregation: I cannot fully express how much it means when you stand before the congregation and recognize my efforts. Those few seconds during announcements, or that mention in the newsletter, legitimize me and the ministry for which I am responsible. When I hear you have been bragging about me to our congregation and colleagues, my commitment to the ministry is renewed. It also elevates me in the eyes of the congregation and improves my ministry.
- Advocate for pay increases: The greatest way you can show your appreciation for my contribution to the congregation is to advocate for my salary. Many of your staff members are underpaid. If you are struggling to get by on your salary, imagine how difficult it is for your staff members who only make 60%-80% of what you are making. Push the salary-setting body of the congregation to explore fair compensation for the work that is being performed by each of your staff members.
I have never understood why some lead pastors have such difficulty giving staff members credit for successful ministries and projects. The success of the staff member is also the success of the lead pastor because it lifts the overall ministry. We should not be competing to make a name for ourselves within the congregation. We ought to be working together for its benefit.
I don’t want your job. Let me clarify that, because that isn’t always true: Don’t assume I want your job. As a staff member, I have a job description that gives me specific tasks to perform and an area of the ministry for which to be responsible. I want to do that. Building me up in the eyes of the congregation is not encouraging mutiny. Instead it is encouraging me to continue in my role and to excel in my area. That benefits us both.