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) Cs and the Four Es. Chick-Fil-A, Northpoint Community Church, and Bill Hybels all utilize the three Cs or a similar variation. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, popularized the Four Es. Even if you do not systemize these in your recruiting, I believe they are helpful to keep in mind as you build a team. Allow me to 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.
Watch for the next two Cs tomorrow on Church Leaders.
Eric Geiger serves as one of the vice presidents at Lifeway Christian Resources, leading the Church Resources Division. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church.