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Avoid These Four Staff Infections
by Tom Goodman
September 18, 2014

A Chicago author who co-wrote the book "How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona" was gored in this year's bull run.  There's a lesson here for church leaders.

I'm sure you know of the annual tradition in Pamplona, Spain.  They release bulls into a narrow street, and men who want to demonstrate their bravery run ahead of the bulls.  After a decade's experience at this, 35-year-old Bill Hillman wrote a Kindle book on how to survive the ritual.  But this year the bull won.

Hillman's injuries weren't serious, just humiliating.

As I said, there's a lesson here for church leaders.  We're in danger of suffering the perils we teach others to avoid.

You've probably heard of a "staph" infection.  It often enters the body through a minor cut, but ends up causing serious complications.  A leadership team can develop some "infections" that result in serious complications, too.

Each year in the Fall I take a moment in one of our Tuesday staff meetings to go over the four "staff infections."  Last Tuesday we reviewed the list again.  It's not just paid leaders who need the annual reminder, though.  Let's make sure none of us in Hillcrest leadership suffer from the following plagues:

Immorality.  Our personal failures aren't as "personal" as we'd wish.  Our failures have a major impact on the rest of the leadership team.  Let's be sure we deal ruthlessly with our moral weaknesses instead of privately entertaining them.  Of course, this includes sexual immorality, but it also includes misuse of funds and church property, gossip, abuse of alcohol, and crossing any other line God has drawn in his Word.

Incompetence.  Leadership teams are plagued by this infection when team members have no interest in improving their performance.  Symptoms include inattention to standards, constant excuses for failure to perform, and resistance to things that would help them improve.

In 1 Timothy 4:14, what Paul urged the young pastor of Ephesus remains good advice for ministers today:  "Do not neglect your gift."  When ministers leave unopened the gift God has given them, laziness replaces vigor, routine ruts replace creativity, and the safety of sameness replaces the venture of faith.  Instead, we need to develop ourselves into highly competent servants of the Lord.

Insubordination.  We call our leadership group a "team," but have you noticed that the teams we love to watch in sports have captains, coaches, and managers?  To call a group of leaders a "team" doesn't mean that lines of authority don't exist.  Teams don't work well when members ignore these lines of authority.

To be honest, none of us always agrees with those who lead us.  But when this devolves into disrespect and open resistance, a staff infection has invaded the Body.

But insubordination can happen in our relationship with team members, not just in our relationship with team leaders.  Remember, the Bible calls us to mutual submission.  Ephesians 5:21 says, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."  Ministry teams suffer when members allow personal differences to remain unresolved.  Ministry teams suffer when colleagues do not support each other in conversations with other church members.

Ingratitude.  This is the worst of all staff infections, and source of the other three.  Think about it.  When I lose my grateful wonder that God has called me to serve his people, I can fall into sloppy habits (Incompetence).  When I lose my thankfulness for the gifts of those I work with, I can quit being a team player (Insubordination).  When I'm no longer grateful for what God chooses to give me, I can turn to embezzlement or adultery (Immorality).

David Livingstone had the right antibiotic for the infection of ingratitude.  He said, "Forbid that we should ever consider the holding of a commission from the King of Kings as a sacrifice, so long as other men esteem the service of an earthly government as an honor."  In Philippians 4:12, Paul said, "I've learned the secret of being content in any and every situation."

Staff infections, like staph infections, can create a lot of harm to the Body.  Make sure that you're not giving any opening for these infections to invade your life.  I'm so grateful for the team of leaders we have at Hillcrest!


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