Some lessons about talent vs. Integrity:
1. Talent is much quicker and easier to DEPLOY than a person who possesses integrity; and USUALLY it is a MISTAKE. It can take years to develop a worship leader, a worship team, a youth pastor, a children’s pastor, small group leaders, a small group’s director, or Biblical elders. But if you can grab one ready-made right off the rack you save yourself a lot of work. Why not speed up the process? It takes less time and you can get on with the business of kingdom advancement. And don’t forget the wow factor of instant talent either – you get instant bang as soon as these people are added to the team. The downside to this quick-and-easy deployment of talent is that 9 times out of 10 these people will GIVE YOU PROBLEMS! You don’t know who they really are… plus they often believe their talent gives them a free pass on behavior issues.
2. Detecting integrity and character means LOOKING BENEATH the TALENT level. You’ve heard the old adage - if it seems too good to be true, it probably is – and nowhere is this more apparent than in church work. Every talented person who walks through our doors off the street and volunteers for ministry CAME FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE. As a shepherd I am responsible for developing and deploying talent, yes, but I am also responsible for detecting CHARACTER DEFECTS and INTEGRITY FLAWS. It is my job to find out where they came from, why they left, and why they are here. A call to the former pastor is not out of the question. Where have they served in the past? Why did they leave? Did they leave on good terms? Is there unresolved conflict between you and someone else in your last church?
3. When assessing integrity, HARD QUESTIONS need to be ASKED. When considering placing anyone in any type of serving capacity, certain questions must be asked. Do they tell tales that don’t seem to add up? Are their finances out of control? Do they seem a little too friendly with the opposite sex? Are they fully committed to the vision of our church? Do they they manage their home well? What is their relationship track record? While it’s never good to go on a witch hunt, we should also listen to our instincts and the instincts of the other leaders around us. If there are persistent, nagging questions about an individual, it might be better to pass on this person.
4. Enforce a time out. The first step in dealing with leaders/workers/volunteers who have had a lapse in integrity is to have them take time out. This is not punishment, but rather a process for healing and restoration. It is a time in which they can grow in their personal walk with Christ without the pressure of ministry responsibilities. It’s also a time for them to reflect on what led to the lapse in integrity and build safeguards against a repeat in the future.
5. Sometimes you just have to say, "No, you are disqualified or ineligible." Let me state the blunt truth here: some people have remarkable talent, but have rendered themselves disqualifed from the ministry because of unrepentant sin or repeated lapses in judgment that cannot be overlooked any longer.
I am concerned about the types of people who flit from church to church offering their talent to desperate congregations, who possess a Prima donna complex, but are spiritually sick. Church-land is FULL of these kinds of people. Most of them will never get healed or ever be truly qualified for ministry. Why? They always have the easy option pulling out and going to another church when confronted about their behavior. BECAUSE OF THEIR TALENT, OTHER CHURCHES QUICKLY OPEN UP MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEM, and THE CYCLE CONTINUES.
No matter how talented a person is, they are subject to the same Biblical standards as everyone else. Exceptional talent does not get you a free ride or a free pass at PCC. If you have attended our church for any length of time and possess an observant eye, you have noticed the many changes in personnel we have made over the years and in recent months – and some of them very visible. We have people step down, take time off, so they may recover. The goal for the ministry is to maintain integrity, and the ultimate goal for the individual is restoration. No one is exempt from this standard – not me, any of my family members, my friends, you, or even your family members.
Integrity is more important than talent… every time.