Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Three C's

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those He wanted (Mark 3:13)

Business author Jim Collins has written about getting the right people on the bus and then in the right seats.  When you don’t, the organization suffers.  So does the leader.

So how do you hire the right staff, enlist the right volunteers, and find the right people to serve in churches?

Here’s something I like to use, and it’s what we use here at PCC.  It’s the Three C’s – three things to look for in any hire or any volunteer.  Violate them at great peril.  I know – I’ve broken everyone of them at one time or another and I paid dearly.  That’s how I learned them.


The very first thing I look for in a person is character.  I know, we’re all sinners, but I’m not talking about being perfect.  I’m talking about whether a person has a foundation of ethics, is a Christian, and is known for virtues like honesty, teach-ability, humility, and Christ-like behavior.  I want people that I don’t have to watch like a hawk.

For instance, a person who never pays his bills on time due to habitual misuse of funds has a disqualifying character flaw.  A person who manifests an ongoing pattern of deceit has a disqualifying character flaw.

The key words here are habitual, pattern¸ and ongoing.  And I am particularly oriented towards the sins of the spirit more than I am sins of the flesh.  Yes, gluttony matters, but not as much as pride;  yes, slipping up and having one too many glasses of wine is not the best behavior for those who feel the freedom to imbibe, but it pales in comparison to anger, envy, sloth, or being divisive.  You get the idea.

A breakdown in character tends to breed distrust and alienates team members from one another.  It also demoralizes the leader because he/she has to invest so much time and emotional energy into that particular team member.  And of course, if the team leader does not deal with the wayward team member, he/she may lose the respect of other team members.

The reason character matters so much is because you cannot teach it or instill it in anyone.  It’s either there or it isn’t.


The second quality to look for is competence.  This has to do with the raw capability, the essential skills, needed to do a job.  This is the least of the three, as it is the one thing that can indeed be taught.

I have added countless people to ministry leadership or on teams who had no background in ministry.  In many ways, I like it this way.  They bring their personal, educational, and vocational skills to the table without preconceived notions regarding the practice of ministry, yet they are capable of getting the job done once properly trained.


Another issue has to do with chemistry, which is simply asking myself, “Do I like this person or do I dislike them?  Yes, that is a valid question.  Is this person a relational fit?  Does this person have a positive effect on me and other members of the team or a negative effect?  This is valid criteria. 

Let me tell you why this chemistry factor is so important.  Almost every day of the week I’m sitting in some meeting with a group of people from our church - ministry teams, small groups, special meetings, staff meetings, ministry director meetings, budget meetings, finance meetings, whatever – which amounts to hundreds of hours each year sitting in small circles with other people – and I don’t know how to say this diplomatically, so I’ll be blunt:  If this is going to work, then I’ve got to LIKE those people and they’ve got to LIKE ME.  If there are two candidates who have equal character and skills, I'll give the nod towards the person whose temperment and personality blends well with the other team members and myself.

I have written about this before here…

This is a very good approach.  Like is too short to put myself into a team environment that doesn’t work.  I want to serve with people who are safe and enjoyable to be around.  More importantly, good chemistry results in good teams and effective ministry.

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