By Bishop Mike Rinehart
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
We often read this passage in light of the role of pastors and church leaders with regards to congregational members. We are called to equip the saints for the work of ministry, so that everyone grows up, into the fullness of Christ. Our job as church leaders is to help people find their gifts and their baptismal calling. No question.
I believe this is also our calling with church staff. Our job is to equip them for ministry in the world. Our job is to help them discover and develop their gifts for their own sake, for the sake of the gospel, and for the sake of the world.
Your employees are not your employees. They are Christ’s beloved. They are not slaves employed to turn out the endless menial tasks of the church. They are children of God, created in God’s image, to whom we minister, albeit in a different way.
Our job is not to keep them forever, for our convenience, as if they were caged animals, but rather to nurture their faith and self-awareness to the place where they discover their deepest calling, where their gifts meet the world’s needs.
The weekly check in and the annual performance review are then, not just a time to complain about what went wrong last year. They are a time to reflect on life and ministry together, using that reflection to discern God’s work in our hands.
How are you helping your church’s employees to discern their God-given calling in the world? Perhaps your job is not to keep them, but to send them. Is working at your church, their ultimate calling and destination in life? Or is it a way station where they find their gifts.
I once worked with an awesome director of youth ministries. The more we worked together, the more she discerned a desire to work with people who had AIDS. She knew it. I could see it. I hated to lose her, but somehow her work with us helped her discern her calling. That’s what it’s all about.
In this day and age, people don’t work one job for their whole lives. This is especially true of young people. It is a myth, however, that Millennials stay at a job less time than the previous generation. A Pew Research Study showed that 22% of Millennials 18-35 years old, stayed in a job five years or more (2016). A generation ago 21.8% of Gen Xers stayed five years or more (2000). Not much difference. For those in their job over 13 months, the numbers were 63.4% for Millennials and 59.9% for Gen Xers.
Still, someone is not going to be your office admin or youth worker for their whole life. And if you think about it, would you want that? Granted, training costs time and money, but for people to stay fresh, they need new challenges. Yes, you’re going to spend time hunting for super staff, and then training them, but that’s part of the fun.
I once heard an interview with John Maxwell. A company exec complained about the amount they had to spend training their people, and the amount of turnover. “What if you train them and they just leave?” he asked. Maxwell thought about it for a moment and then responded, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?”
So here’s what I ask you: How are you nurturing your people? How are you helping them discover their gifts, and become all they can be? Will they look back on their time with you and think, “Thank goodness I’m free from that?” Or will they look back and be grateful, thinking, “They helped me discover my calling?”