Over the years, I’ve gotten far better at hiring staff. The last 8-10 hires have been absolutely phenomenal people to work with. I’ve been tweaking the hiring process over the year and there’s one gauge that I pay attention to far more than any other. I’ll share this gauge that I created in a future post (honestly, its the best thing ever). Regardless, this gauge adequately helps me see what my relationship with this potential candidate will be like. No guesswork, it’s pretty telling.

Here’s the thing. Staff can often fall into two categories.

  1. They see themselves as critical to the organization and they prioritize their role and narrow their focus on what they oversee and do everything necessary for their area to succeed.
  2. They see themselves as critical to the organization because of what they can bring to the organization as a whole. They prioritize the organization and see success in their area as secondary to the whole.

On first reading these two options, practically everyone can get behind option number one. Yes, I want my staff to do everything within reason to grow their area. The second option feels different, almost like a compromise. If almost feels like setting aside what you’re passionate about to put something else first. It feels like settling. Let me say this to bring it into perspective.

I want my staff to grow their areas and create healthy ministry – but never at the expense of the rest of the team. The church comes first. NextGen comes second. Individual areas come third. I want to work with staff that understand that, otherwise I’ll always be fighting staff that resist what I need them to do.

As I said, I use a gauge to help me determine this in future staff and it hasn’t failed me yet. The absolute best example I have of this rare quality was my Student Pastor, Chris Parker. When I hired, him, he was a young leader with some good experience. Of all the candidates I interviewed, he was one of the few that exhibited this quality. I cast a vision that I was looking for a Student Pastor who was excellent at leading student ministry but someone who valued working on a NextGen team. I’m still amazed he humored my visionary rants of something I was still trying to build.

Chris was a hard worker and recruited/built leaders like no one I’ve ever worked with before. In just two years, he took a very unhealthy ministry to students and turned it into the healthiest ministry on our NextGen team. However, I never questioned where his priorities were. They were to our church, to me and to the NextGen team. I was absolutely amazed by how much time he invested in preschool and elementary. If someone on the team was facing a challenge, he was usually the first to volunteer. He was faithful and dependable, but not just because faithfulness and dependability were qualities he possessed, but because he was a servant. He served his church, my and my team exceptionally well.

It’s important to note that Chris wasn’t a push-over. He didn’t follow blindly. He spoke the truth and I knew that he would always shoot straight with me. The NextGen team at Gateway was mine, but it had his fingerprints all over it. When I was in a bind, needed to make a decision or was desperate for help, Chris was always there. Every leader needs someone (or multiple someone’s) like Chris.

For years, I have set under Jim Widneman’s leadership and one of his primary life-messages is this very idea… serving another person’s vision. My job is to serve my leader and help him be successful. I’ve been trying to live that out for nearly a decade, but never has anyone lived this quality out for me like Chris, and I’ll always be grateful.

Pay attention to this quality. Hiring someone who leans toward serving their own vision and desires can cause trouble for you and your church. Getting this right though, it could change everything.