That person has got to go! Principles regarding hiring and firing.

hire or fire pic

We need him at the table! He has got to go! The following post is a synthesis of biblical truths, experiences I have had and the all too often neglected gift of common sense – all of which are given to us by God’s providence – to give you some principles concerning hiring and firing.

When hiring consider the following:

  • Pray. Yep, that’s the first principle I’d recommend to you as James tells us to ask for wisdom (James 1:5).
  • Character over competency. With regards to pastoral hires ask pointed questions that come from God’s word regarding expectations (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9).To hire someone in a hurried fashion without a thorough process whereby you truly get acquainted with them could lead to a lot of unnecessary dysfunction; certainly having a thorough process doesn’t negate the fact that issues will happen but it can tremendously minimize them.
  • Share expectations. Be forthright and candid concerning your expectations for the position. No one likes to find themselves in a position only to be told later what the real expectations are.
  • Vacation principle. Several men have told me over the years that asking the question, “would I go on vacation with this person” is helpful to discern is there true and obvious chemistry. Ministry is hard-work and it’s made even more difficult when you’re tasked to do ministry with individuals you really don’t connect well with.
  • Teachability and humility. God tells us that He is actively opposed to the proud (James 4:6) so in hiring you want to observe the person’s character and ask questions that help you discern is this person teachable and humble.

When firing consider the following principles:

  • See the first bullet-point above.
  • Get over yourself. Has God providentially brought this person in my life to expose issues of sin or leadership deficiencies in my life? Sometimes the interpersonal conflict is just that—interpersonal conflict that both you and the individual need to work hard at living out a theology of reconciliation.
  • Character counts. If there are significant patterns of character deficiencies than their life has communicated what needs to happen. There are obviously certain acts, that though aren’t a pattern, warrant termination. Bottom-line, you can’t serve in ministry and call people to follow you as you believe and follow Jesus and have a life devoid of holiness (i.e. character).
  • Solicit wisdom. Too many times, we operate in a ministerial silo to the neglect of stewarding the perspective of people around us. Making a decision to fire someone independent of anyone else weighing in is not a practice I’d recommend.
  • Fear of man. To be fearful is to be controlled by something. Is the fear of man dictating what you know you need to do but don’t want to for various reasons? Be controlled by the fear of God not by fear of man.
  • Long-term posture. When thinking about firing part of my thought process is “am I exemplifying a long-term approach to the church?” Living in the short-term will lead you to make decisions that are nearsighted and not conducive to the health of the church; think years out rather than days or weeks.
  • Document behavior. To let someone go is a significant leadership decision. Leading up to that decision it would be advantageous for you and for them to keep an account of deficiencies in performance so when you come to that point you have a cogent case for your words of termination.
  • Be straightforward. Hopefully the person has some measure of emotional intelligence so they will probably know what’s about to happen so don’t make an awkward situation even more awkward by using the “sandwich method” (good word – hard word – good word). Just be forthright. It’s not the time to have logorrhea (diarrhea of the mouth).
  • Script it. When actually firing someone my encouragement would be to write out a script and stick to it. Deviating into minutiae will only muddy up the conversation and potentially cause them to walk away frustrated, or worse, embittered.

This list certainly isn’t exhaustive so if there are other principles you would add please share (i.e. leave a comment).

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