Ever feel like the Lone Ranger? I do at times. We all do at times. Some of the most unpleasant times in my life happens when it is necessary to change staff. Churches rarely make change easily. It is easier to handle the known than the unknown, even when the known is not acceptable.
It was necessary to let staff go. Years of working with them to improve performance and help them grow in character, failed. You want to beat yourself up because YOU FAILED. I’m clergy and I failed. The hardest thing in life for me is realizing some people don’t want to change and that I have to accept that fact.
When the big decision has to be made, you make it as the chief administer of the congregation in cooperation with the approval of the corporate executive officers. (That means as Senior Minister and Executive Council.) It is a painful moment because while you didn’t make the decision alone, you feel alone because everyone sees you as the cartelist for the change. You are very much aware of the cost. The staff person’s family will be affected. Member’s of the congregation will feel hurt, sad and even mad, because they have become friends. The parting staffer rarely says goodbye gracefully. This is all compounded by the fact, you can’t share the full story. All these things must remain confidential to protect the departing staffer, the Church and even others that may be involved. So, you bare the burden of “trust.” We live in a time when everything demands transparency. But sometimes transparency isn’t always the wise or correct thing.
Ministry is a very public job that has to deal with some unpleasant things quietly. The Christmas story this year jumped out at me when I read that part about Joseph. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Matt 1:19) I rarely hear of a quiet divorce or a staff departure.
So why write this blog? Because as church members we need to be educated as to our process in our tradition. We need to understand that this is a painful process for a lot of people, including the one that leaves. As painful as it may be, you do the right thing. The future of the Church is in the balance and the integrity of the staff is on the line.