As a Pastor, How Do You Avoid Micromanaging Your Church?

The following is an edited transcript of the audio.

As a pastor, how do you avoid micromanaging your church?

Micromanagement is counterproductive when it comes to morale building. You can't have a camaraderie of colonels or generals who are going together into a battle if one of the generals is always nitpicking about another general's clothes or marriage or horse riding skills. You better keep your mouth shut. Your life hangs on this guy fighting for you! And his vibrancy in the battle is essential to your own thriving.

So my mindset with my staff is that they've got to thrive. They have to love being here. They have to love the vision, the theology, me, worship. Anything I do that is going to start turning the screws down on their delights, joys, and passions in this church is a loser for me. I feel it.

This does not feel like self-denial to me. This feels like maximizing my joy by keeping a happy staff, because a grumbling, unhappy, beat-down, discouraged staff is an end to my ministry.

I think micromanaging—that is, constantly second-guessing the decisions that your staff is making—will destroy their confidence, morale, and delight in ministry. And besides, they're smart! They know what they're doing in their spheres better than I do. My perspective is limited and flawed. Woe to me if I get into David Michael's office and tell him how to do children's ministry. That's just ridiculous. He knows better than I do. So they're smarter in their spheres, and they have a morale that I need to nurture.

I would just say to pastors who are bent on micromanaging that they probably need two things:

1) They need a heavy dose of confidence in the sovereignty of God, believing that he will work for them even when they are not controlling everything.

2) They need to choose their staff very carefully. This is huge. There are so many pastors who think, "What we need on this staff is some diversity in theology or philosophy of ministry." Well that's crazy! You need diversity in personality, gifting, ethnicity, and so on, but you don't need any diversity in the major theological issues that drive your ministry. But of course, for many pastors, theology doesn't drive their ministry.

I'll give you an example of what this has looked like for us. We were looking for worship leadership, which is one of the hardest positions to hire for, because worship leaders determine so much about the ethos and flavor of the main meeting week after week. You're making a huge decision when you chose a worship leader. And there is zero way you can micromanage worship leadership even if you wanted to. So what do you do?

At the front end, you want to look for somebody who is passionate for Christ. Secondly, you want to make sure that their theology is totally in sync with, in our case, the Bethlehem Elder Affirmation of Faith. And thirdly, you want someone who seems to have the breadth and focus that sort of fits where the church is going.

I say "sort of" on this third point because once he's here, you need to say something to him like this: "It really matters that we are Bethlehem, defined by these root commitments, philosophy of ministry, mission statement, and affirmation of faith. But now, you be you. You've got to be you. If you aren't you but are constantly watching John Piper and asking, 'What's he thinking?' and you're not you, everybody will know it. Everybody will know that this is not real. This is a performance. This is an adjustment. This guy is not loose or free. He is not himself, and he is not engaging."

So you've got to give tremendous freedom to your staff once they're on board. But choosing them on the front end with a strong confidence in God's sovereignty is very very crucial.

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