Growing up, many of us had this thought, “If I could just land a job I really want, then I’ll be happy with work.” We assumed that if we liked the work we were doing and we were in a job that we enjoyed, excelled at, and were passionate about, that would be enough to give us a good work experience. And while that’s a huge part of it, we all know that there’s more to it.
You can love your job all you want to, but if you work in an unhealthy environment with toxic coworkers, you will find yourself dreading having to go to work every single morning. No one wants that right?
As a pastor and/or leader in your church, you have the opportunity and the ability to set the culture among your staff. You get to choose whether or not the work environment at your church is healthy or unhealthy, thriving or draining, uplifting or toxic. Notice I used the word “choose” because it is a choice. Healthy staff cultures don’t just happen by chance. You have to choose to craft, develop, and implement the right culture. If you choose to simply avoid creating a culture, chances are an unhealthy work environment will emerge, and both you and your staff will reap the consequences of that choice.
So with this in mind, we want to help by giving you a few tips on how to have a healthy staff culture at your church. We hope this is a good starting point for you as you strive to establish or continue to build a thriving, healthy culture among your staff.
Promote work-life balance.
Let your staff know that their personal lives matter to you. Their families matter. Their rest matters. Their emotional and mental health matter. You can show them that by promoting work-life balance. Obviously, you want your staff to work hard, but also find ways to promote rest and recharging when work gets crazy. Make sure your staff is using their vacation days. Offer comp time after busy seasons or events, or give them a random afternoon off if they’ve been working really hard and a break seems necessary. Your employees will feel seen and valued when your actions show you understand how they need rest.
Champion their mental health.
Many churches are doing a great job at encouraging their congregation to seek out mentors and counselors as they continue to walk with the Lord. But, let’s not forget that we should be encouraging our staff to do the same. Caring for hurting people (which is what church staff members are often doing) can take its toll on a person’s mental health. Combine that with all of the other things that are going on in a staff member’s personal life, and it can be a massive burden to bear. Therefore, continue to remind your staff of the importance of mentorship and counseling. If you are able, allocate some of the church budgets to offer financial assistance for staff members seeking counseling. You have no idea the investment you’d be making by setting your staff’s mental health as such a high priority.
Talk to each other, not about each other.
Gossip is one of the quickest ways to promote toxicity in your staff culture. However, gossip seems to be growing in our current culture. It’s easier to talk about people than we think, especially people we work with who aren’t meeting deadlines, are difficult in meetings or are going through a personal struggle. It is absolutely vital you lead in showing your staff the importance of talking to each other, not about each other. If someone has a problem, an issue, or a question, they should be encouraged to go directly to the other person involved, not to other people in the office. We see that directly from Scripture in Matthew 18. The quicker you can nip the gossip weed in the bud, the better your staff culture will become.
Remember, you, as the leader of the church, are critical in creating the right culture. Be intentional each day to set the right example and lead your staff in building the right culture to promote Jesus and expand your influence in your area.