Yesterday was a happy day for me (a huge Cowboys fan). I had been campaigning for years to get Wade Phillips fired. Actually, I never wanted him to get hired (there’s a lesson there – make sure you hire the right people), but I had spent the last 3 years calling for his firing.

Bottomline: If you can’t do your job and do it well, you don’t deserve a job. We are living in a tough economic time right now where people are hungry (literally) for work and would give anything to have your secure job. There’s no place for laziness or lack of leadership and initiative in any industry – including the Church.

As someone who consults with churches and organizations, having spent a lot of time with senior pastors and executive pastors, I know that there comes a time when it is no longer wise or healthy to keep someone on your staff. Please know that I don’t take this lightly and I know the sting of what it’s like being on the other end (having been laid off due to a church’s financial situation). I know that the employee has a family and this will be extremely difficult to cope with, but if an employee has been warned before and encouraged to change their attitude, work ethic or make progress in their given ministry area – it is something that is warranted and a leadership call that senior leaders need to make.

Am I just talking about paid staff members? Absolutely not. If you remember, 2 years ago I blogged about firing a volunteer. You can and should read it HERE. By the way, the Part Two of that story is after months of not serving and several meetings with the volunteer (including asking him to read “The Heart of the Artist”), he came back on the team with a great attitude, humbleness and we’re still friends to this day. When I’m back in Dallas, I can still see this volunteer and hang out with him (go out to eat, catch some live music, or go see a movie). We’re really friends – even after having to fire him for a season.

Do I believe in grace? BIG TIME. It’s my favorite word. Do I believe in second and third chances? Yes. Do I believe in coaching and leading someone to a better place in their career? Yes – if they’re willing, able, humble and teachable. I also write and teach on innovative organizations allowing and sometimes encouraging failure as they take strides towards new approaches to ministry and innovative breakthroughs. What I’m talking about here is one’s heart, attitude, work ethic and what they bring to your team or organization as a whole – also how they impact those around or under them. All this must be taken into account.

How do you handle unhealthy situations on your team? Have you had to fire a staff member or volunteer? Have you ever been fired and learned a hard lesson? What’s your thoughts on this?

Greg Atkinson

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