You're Fired~Part 2

This is a continuation of last week's post. Read that before starting this one. I will use he throughout, but of course mean he/she.

If we hire slowly and do our homework before inviting someone to join us, we will be firing less.  When we do need to fire someone, it could very well be our own fault. That might come as a shock to you, but give it a fair hearing. The first step in firing is to do a better job of hiring.

It has been my experience that when the time has clearly come to make the tough decision to let a person go, we seldom take personal responsibility as the boss for the person not performing well. It is a two way street!

Here are a few things to consider before bringing a person on:

Has this person demonstrated (with you or someone whose opinion you trust) proven performance in the area of the job responsibilities? Don’t pick/hire a person based on personality, promise or potential but on proven performance.

Are you convinced the prospective hire knows how to organize and focus himself in order to work productively?

Does he have God-given capacity to do this job? Do the job responsibilities fit his experience and gifting?

Does this person have the ability (as far as you can tell) to grow with the job? Hire him to do what the job will evolve into over the next year or two rather than what it currently is so you won’t have to find another person when the role expands.  Think long-term not short-term.

Have you made the job responsibilities clear? These should deal with expected outcomes as opposed to a list of activities the person is doing.

Have you communicated what authority you are giving him to make certain decisions?

Assuming you have done your homework on the front end before the hire, here are additional ideas on helping the person be successful in their new role:

Together, set agreed-upon goals based on the job responsibilities, authority and expected outcomes.

When the individual is doing well, affirm and recognize his good work. I have never met someone who complained he was encouraged too much.

When he is not doing as expected, coach him as you try to discover why it is not going well.

Be sure to document poor performance, letting him know it is serious and could be grounds for termination if you don’t see adequate improvement.

Offer training when it would help him in being successful. When training is not effective, think in terms of transferring him to another spot within the organization, with responsibilities that better fit who God made him to be. If there is no place to which he can be transfered, and as a last resort, terminate him.

Terminate in such a way that the person is helped in taking next steps. Don’t kick him to the curb and wash your hands of him. He should not be surprised he was let go, but rather should see it coming. He has a right to know why he was let go so he can learn from the experience and do better in his next role. Check back after a while to see how he is doing.

Admittedly this is not comprehensive. There is a lot more that could be said. The subject matter on this topic is enough for a book if there isn't already one. What I've said in these two posts is a start in helping us do better as Christian leaders in both hiring and firing.




You're Fired~Part 1

If you’ve ever watched an episode of The Apprentice, you have heard, and seen, Donald Trump utter those hope-ending, heart stopping words-You’re fired!

As most of you know, I coach leaders scattered around the country--many of whom, at one time or another, have uttered those words or been on the receiving end of those devastating words.

Now, I have been around a while and know that at times it’s appropriate and necessary to send someone packing, whether that person is a volunteer or a paid employee.

Honestly though, I struggle with the hiring / firing habits and practices of many churches and organizations with which I am familiar. I am troubled by what I read about, have experienced personally and have helped coaching clients deal with.

Within the last several months I have had conversations with leaders who were prayerfully considering letting somebody go, but were sweating bullets over following through with it as they considered the ramifications and potential fall-out of such a decision. Let’s face it, churches split over these kinds of decisions when it involves a well liked, but seemingly incompetent, person.

Recently I tweeted the following…hire slowly and fire quickly.  I got a little push back on that but still believe it is sound wisdom. If we do our homework on the front end when hiring, chances are we won’t have to fire at all.  But sometimes you do it by the book on the hiring aspect, and still get blindsided by things you hadn’t anticipated, and then need to make the tough call of “firing” the person. When it is clear they need to go, don’t procrastinate. One way to determine if it is time for them to move on is by asking yourself this question: If that person walked in today to apply for a position, knowing everything I now know, would I hire them? If the answer is no, you know what you need to do.

The question is, will you do it, and do it in a way that honors the Lord and respects the dignity of the person? I don’t believe a person should be taken by surprise when they hear they are going to be let go. As a leader, if you are doing your job well, they should know it is coming.

When it is done, how it is communicated to the person (and others), and doing your best to facilitate the transition in such a way that the person in question is helped and resourced in their next steps, is as important as the decision itself.

Next week I will continue this and provide some practical ideas to consider when bringing a new person on, so that the prospect of firing them will be greatly reduced.




Triperspectivalism and Leadership

There is a way of looking at leadership holistically that is described by the word triperspectivalism. The word means a threefold way to perceive and look at something.

Triperspectivalism is something that we are increasingly discussing and using at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, my home church.

The three leadership aspects/roles are:

  1. Prophet
  2. Priest
  3. King

We are spinning off  three functions exemplified in the leadership of  Jesus…He was prophet, priest and king!

Let me briefly unpack the three leadership roles and what each means

  1. The Prophet is the forward-looking, goal-setting and communicating leader;
  2. The Priest is the care-giving pastor to people;
  3. The King is the systems leader, the operations person, the one who figures out how to get from point A to point B and develops ideas on how to make it happen.

I am primarily a King in the way I lead, with a touch of prophet. So I would be viewed as a King/Prophet.  I am challenged in the priestly function; so I need to make sure, when forming a team, that I have a strong priest to keep an eye on how we are doing in caring and paying attention to the people as we travel toward the dream/vision Jesus has given.

Here are some thoughts on Triperspectivalism:

  1. When initiating a project, planting a church or launching any idea, it is advantageous to build a team with at least three people…a prophet, a priest and a king.
  2. The three leadership functions need to respect and appreciate what each brings to the table and to defer to one another.
  3. It is tempting for the prophet to want only prophets…the king, only kings…and the priest only priests on the core team, but all three are essential in honoring Jesus.
  4. If there is no prophet, the endeavor can keep circling the wagons with no new ideas or God-pleasing dreams and goals.
  5. If there is no king, ideas can be discussed but may never be implemented with solid follow-through.
  6. If there is no priest, ideas can be conceived and implemented with a good game plan, but people’s needs, capacity and emotional/physical condition may not adequately be taken into account.
  7. Every leader is primarily one of these with perhaps a strong second one.

If this brief introduction to leadership as seen through perspectivalism whets your appetite, I can send you two documents that will build on what I have shared here. Email  and I will send them along.




Pride goes before a fall

Author Jim Collins wrote a very insightful book titled, “How the Mighty Fall.”

It is mostly about fallen leaders/companies in the corporate world, but the same principles that Collins discusses apply to Christian leadership.

Scripture has a lot to say about pride and its destructive consequences as well as the value of humility.

Proverbs 16:18 (ESV):  “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Isaiah 57:15b (ESV):  “I dwell in the high and holy place and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. “

The last thing any Christian leader wants is to fall…fall from a loving and vibrant relationship with Jesus or fall from being usable by Jesus.

Recently, my Pastor Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church, spoke on pride in a Sunday sermon.  Here are some painful and probing questions from that teaching. The questions are essentially Mark’s and I have added a few words here and there.

Answering these questions for yourself will give you the opportunity to be honest on some tell-tale signs that you are a proud leader:

1.  Do you find yourself longing for lots of attention?

2.  Do you find yourself jealous or critical of those who succeed?

3.  Do you always have to win at anything you do or try?

4.  Have you developed a pattern of “lying” (especially in embellishing the truth)?

5.  Is it hard for you to admit being wrong…to say “I’m sorry” or “It was my fault”?

6.  Do you find yourself often in conflict with others on your team or to whom you report?

7.  Do you often cut in front of people in line at the bank, in a store or on the freeway?

8.  Do you find yourself easily upset when you are not sufficiently honored or respected?

9.  Do you have a mindset/attitude of entitlement or gratitude?

10.  Do you believe you are superior to most other people?

11.  Do you learn from others, ask other people’s opinion or input, or do you readily assume that your ideas/decisions are always right?

Personally, I am convicted by number 7. By his grace I have begun to slow down instead of being in a hurry, which often results in cutting “in front” thinking I am more important than everybody else…pride pure and simple!

Here are three questions on the subject of  “pride/humilty” that I have been wrestling with:

1.  What is the difference between God-confidence and pride?

2.  In what ways can insecurity be thought to be humility? 

3.  In what ways can security be thought to be pride?

I would love to get some “comments” on this one!  Have at it!


Do you hate to wait?

My lack of patience has gotten me into more trouble than the lack of any other character trait I can think of!

To my own detriment, I like to keep moving, get things done and see things moving forward. As I walk with God, sometimes He seems to walk awfully slow.

My daughter Anna, her husband Joel and their three children, Ella, Jude and Cameron are experiencing some challenging times at the moment. A few weeks ago she sent me this:

I know God is doing a great work in us.

I am reading this book called “CALM My Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow and last night I read this part that she quoted from a man named Andrew Murray who was facing a trial:

“In time of trouble, say: First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest. Next, He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.

“Then, say: He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.

“And, last, say: In His good time He can bring me out again. How and when, He knows; therefore, say: I am here…

“1. By Gods appointment,

“2. In His keeping,

“3. Under His training,

“4. For His time.”

Is there something going on in your life right now that is posing a fair share of challenges for you?  By His grace and for His honor, the above can help you to trust and not hate to wait! Thanks, Anna, for passing this along.