Serving With Family On A Church Staff

I love my family. Life’s greatest moments to me are the moments I spend with my family. My wife and I both have a godly heritage. We were both born into ministry homes, and to this day our parents are still in full time ministry. The same is true of our siblings. I guess you could say, our family takes ministry seriously!

I remember growing up as a young preacher I would often say the greatest joy of my life would be to work with my dad. My dad is my hero. He is a great soul winner, pastor, and leader. A man of conviction and hard work. One who has a deep walk with the Lord. My father in law is also a man who walks with God and has taught me a tremendous amount about local church ministry. At one time it looked as if I would join a church staff where my father in law served and that would’ve been a great honor. I’ve not had either one of these privileges, but the Lord had an awesome plan in store that I would’ve never dreamed. He allows me to serve on staff with my brother.

When the Lord opened the door for our young church to hire its first Assistant Pastor there was no question in my mind who I believed the Lord wanted to bring to our ministry. Though I never would’ve thought, growing up, that Jared and I would one day work together, there was no doubt he was the best fit for our ministry. And how the Lord brought him to LBC…well, that’s another “miracle story” in and of itself.

When the news began to circulate among our friends in full time ministry many said, “It will never work.” The idea of working on a staff with family sometimes presents problems. But we were persuaded this was of God, and determined to prove our critics wrong.

Many people will ask Jared, “How do you like working for your brother?” Sarcastically, he will often respond, “Well, he’s told me what to do my whole life at least now I get paid for it.” And then there’s the staff meetings when we might view something differently that one of us will look at the other and say, “Now, if you don’t listen I’m going to tell mom!”

But, seriously, how does it work? We’ve watched church staffs filled with family members handle things inappropriately, and we’ve seen staffs work with their family extremely well. My wife has served as my secretary since we’ve been married, and my brother and his wife are now serving on our church staff. Think about it…even Jesus had two sets of brothers among his disciples (James & John, Peter & Andrew). So, yes, serving daily alongside of family in full time ministry can work.

Here are some practical things I’ve learned that allow serving with family on a church staff a joyous experience.

1. Appreciate what God has assembled together.Simply stated, enjoy it! What an opportunity the Lord gives when he allows family to serve closely together in ministry. Understand, this is not something that God always does. There are numerous families that God has placed their ministries on opposites sides of the world. So, don’t take for granted what God has assembled together and enjoy these precious moments.

2. Adapt to one another’s roles in the ministry where you serve.The idea here is respecting the difference between being in the office and sitting around the Thanksgiving table. If you want to create an environment where the ministry moves forward without personal conflict then you must yield to the roles God has given each of you. One of the ways my brother and I have chosen to aid this process is our addressing one another. While at church he always calls me “pastor,” and I always call him “Brother Jared.” We are respecting the roles God has given us. 

3. Accept their strengths, AND their weaknesses.It’s easy to encourage family through their strengths, but it is more difficult to encourage family through weaknesses. Whether it’s our expectation for them to succeed or our liberty to be more open and honest, often family can focus on weaknesses more so than strengths. If a family member on your staff is weak in an area you’re strong, then accept it and make every effort to help them strengthen that weakness. If they are stronger than you then don’t pout and make them look bad because of your weakness. Learn to compliment one another by allowing your strengths and weaknesses to produce the harmony needed to grow into God’s divine design for your life.

4. Avoid Favoritism.This is helpful for many relationships in the ministry. The family relationship – it keeps other family from creating a spirit of jealousy. The church relationship – it keeps the congregation from accusing the staff of choosing sides due to blood relatives. The work relationship – it shows honesty and integrity to one another as you seek to equally respect each person in your ministry.

5. Applaud victories and good work.We have a joke around here that are staff meetings consist of “What Jared did wrong.” While there is humor in this, we must be careful that all of our meetings, lunches, and emails are not centered around the negativity of incomplete or failed work. We must earnestly strive to let our family know how much their good work is appreciated. This is something I constantly strive to improve. If we don’t encourage the victories of our staff/family, they will soon feel as if their work is not appreciated and taken for granted. Publicly and privately applaud their work!

I don’t know what I would do in our ministry at Laurel Baptist Church if it wasn’t for my family who serves alongside on our staff. I am grateful for the opportunity God has given, and I want to do my best create a ministry environment that helps the spirit and love of our family and not hinders it. To Jared, Julie, and Kathleen…I love you! Thank God we get serve together!

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