Love Them Like You Woo Them

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Summer is a very popular time for moving and it is no different for ministry families!  We have moved during the Summer 2 out of 4 times.  However, the 2 non-Summer moves were before our kids were in school so that doesn’t count, right?

Maybe you are the one moving.

Maybe you are getting a new staff member.

I want to share a few thoughts with you from a ministry perspective about the new staff member you are getting.  They are excited.  They might be nervous.  Depending on what transpired at their prior placement, they could be worried about the future.

Your church elected a committee and, likely, they know the candidate the best.  They have spent some time with them.  They have talked and questioned.  Your church had a weekend where you got to meet and greet and possibly ask a few questions.  Overall, your church is excited about this new family to move and begin ministry.

Here are a few things to consider for longevity, joy, and productivity:

  1. Meet them as well as you moved them. Your church, like many, provide for the move.  Maybe you paid for a company to do it.  Maybe your guys got a U-Haul and went to get them.  Maybe everyone met with their stock trailers and “got ‘er done”.  I have had all of those happen!   Too often, we do a lot to get them here but then what?  Do we help them move it in?  Do we help them set up?  To be fair, some don’t really want the help.  But offer.  Ministry family, let them help.  I know it feels weird.  I know that for those who are shy it feels invasive.

    We go to great lengths to get them here.  Let us keep going the extra mile after they get here.  They are new.  They know nobody.  If there are kids, then they are sad for leaving, tired from moving, excited for a new adventure all at the same time.  Meet them where they are.  Meet them for who they are.

    Meet them as well, or better than, you moved them.

  2. Learn from them as well as you listened to them. I have been through the interviews.  I have conducted the interviews.  I have been with those who conduct the interviews.  In every case, we listen closely for everything.  We ask specific questions waiting for the “right” answers.  If we do not get them, we ask again or discuss later.  We listen to the testimony.  We listen to the call.  We listen for their philosophy, doctrinal position, political position, and ministry vision.  We listen carefully.

    Once they arrive, do we learn from them as well?  Once they have been here a year, or 3, or 5, do we continue to listen and learn from them?  God brought them to you for a reason.  Whatever their ministry area, He has equipped them for the task.  Were it not so, why is that staff member at your church?  God has a plan.  He brought a minister to you for a reason.

    Let us learn from them later as well as we listened to them before.

  3. Let us love them like you wooed them. That’s a funny thing to consider, isn’t it?  But it is true!  Search committees, executive teams, or elders, or pastors review MANY resumes, cover letters, and references.  They investigate fully those who have shown interest in being the next member of the staff.  Once they settle in on someone the romance begins!  I have watched it over the years.  I have experienced it, too.  There is a spiritual romance brewing between the group/individual seeking and the one being sought.

    Then life happens.  Much like marriages in America, we find differences of opinion.  These differences can turn into irreconcilable differences.  Art Rainer wrote that too many pastors are leaving between years 3 and 4.  We can blame it on a variety of issues as the article states.  I believe there is something to the relationship.

    Were there unmet expectations?  Were there unrealistic expectations?  Were there shades of truth through the interview process.  Notice that I am asking this in a way that either side could be culpable.  What I have found is that there are always issues.  What matters is whether there is “sticky love”.  We should look at this more like a marriage than a dating relationship.  Marriage in God’s view sticks through the bad times.  Dating doesn’t always.  Dating is just a way for people to discover that person God has for them.  Marriage is the moment when you should already know.  Now it is time to stick it out in love and for life.  The interest level was very high through the final interview and acquisition.  Now that we are all together may we love.

    Let us love them like we woo them.

My prayer is for all involved.  Churches everywhere are welcoming in new staff members during this time of year.  Call them.  Connect with them.  Move them.  Mostly, love them.  Stick with them after the move-in.  Listen and learn after the cooling off period.  Keep the fire burning and love them in action, not theory.  I would also add that for those who are on staff already, do a quick check-up by asking yourself:

  1. How have I connected with him/her since their staff anniversary?
  2. How have I chosen to listen to the heart, the passion, the vision without drifting off?
  3. How have I chosen to love?

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