A Pastor and His Staff

A pastor is a leader, but not just to his1 congregation; he is a leader for his staff, whether they are financially compensated or volunteer. The pastor has, if the church structure allows for it, the responsibility to select the right staff. He then must organize them, develop relationships with them, lead them with vision and direction, see that they grow personally and professionally, and he must compensate them for their service. Pastor—from the Greek work, poimēn—generally means ‘shepherd.’ And although it only appears once in the New Testament in reference to a church officer, there are numerous analogies of a leader as a shepherd and the church as a flock (Grudem 1994, 913). Therefore, the pastor as the shepherd of the flock must also ensure that his staff properly looks after and protects the flock.

According to Criswell, “The qualifications of a good staff member are what they would be in the secular world of teaching, administration, education, business, public relations, personality, appeal, and all the rest, with this one additional accompaniment—the staff member ought to feel a real affinity for the work of the Lord, ‘called’ of God to do the task if at all possible” (Criswell 1980, 85). However, Criswell almost seems to say that calling is a secondary matter. It must be the first in the selection of a staff. It is the responsibility of the pastor as a leader to gage potential staff members for calling, because if indeed they are called, the rest of the attributes may not be what they seem. Jesus called a tax collector and a band of fishermen, and none of them used their secular skills much for the Church once they were called.

Once on staff, the individual staff members must know how they fit within the organization and the vision. In order to understand each person’s strengths and weaknesses, the leader must be familiar with his people, and do to his, he must form relationships with them. He must know them. And they must know the leader and his vision. Clearly defined roles and regular staff meetings will help the leader accomplish this communication necessity. “They are ready to follow, to work, to build, to go,” writes Criswell, “if they have a man of God and a man of vision to lead the way” (217). The pastor is and must be a visionary leader for the staff.

A leader must be one who can generate future leaders within (and even outside) the church. To do this, he must see to it that the staff is growing, learning, and reaching their full potential. Each person must be in the word of God and in prayer; both things the pastor should highly encourage. Also, sending staff members to conferences, is not only a good way to see them receive more training, it is also a good way to show appreciation for them as staff members. Occasionally, volunteers will give an enormous amount of time to the church. Sending them to a conference is a good way to compensate them, but also remembering the birthdays and major events of the staff members’ lives is one way to show them the pastor cares about them. And it is important that the staff is compensated well; First Timothy 5:18 says, “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer deserves his wages’” (ESV).

And finally, the pastor is also the protector of his staff. David, the great shepherd of the Old Testament carried a sling to defend his sheep from hungry lions. Jesus, drawing on imagery the shepherd would understand said to his disciples, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Mat 7:15, ESV). The pastor must guard against false doctrine and poor theology. It can be more destructive if false doctrines are being taught to the congregation from a staff member. Therefore, the pastor must train up his staff correctly, but also be watching for incorrect theology and deal with it immediately. The staff is also charged with the care of the flock. And the flock as well as the staff depends upon the pastor’s courage and leadership.

Reference List
Criswell, W.A. Criswell's Guidebook for Pastors. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman Press, 1980.
Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester,
England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.

1 It is not my intention to engage in a debate about women in ministry. So given my position on women serving in as elders or senior leaders in the church, and considering that the great majority to senior pastors are men, I will refer to the pastor as a male throughout this paper. If the senior pastor is a woman, the same principles apply. 

* This post was, in its entirety or in part, originally written in seminary in partial fulfillment of a M.Div. It may have been redacted or modified for this website.  

** Photo is registered under a Creative Commons License.