Question: Lately, I’ve been struggling to keep unity on my staff. How should I handle this?
Unity is one of the most difficult things to develop and protect, and it becomes especially tough in a church environment. In the past as a leader, one of my greatest regrets was sacrificing unity because of my love for people. Now, I understand more why the Bible is so serious about keeping it.
Paul said in Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Holy Spirit.” The word that he used to mean “make every effort” was actually the same word used to describe gladiators who would go into the ring with a life expectance of 1-3 years.
Unity is serious. It’s tough. It’s something you have to teach and require of your staff if you’re going to experience it. If that’s what Jesus prayed for in the Garden, I believe it must be pretty important.
As you approach it with your staff, I would encourage you first to teach the blessings of it. Show your staff how God commands his blessings upon unity. Take them through biblical examples and personal stories. If they truly understand the why behind the what, it should make what you ask of them much easier to bear.
After teaching on the blessings, I would make sure the staff requirements are extremely clear. I do this by having regular meetings with my staff and by also having clear boundaries with them.
If there is a problem between staff members, my staff already knows that we follow Jesus’ process in Matthew 18. We let them work it out privately, but we will gently push them to do so so that it doesn’t fester and mess with our environment.
If they can’t work it out privately, we will bring in other people (usually their supervisors or church leaders who have some rapport with them) who can help them resolve the conflict.
If that still doesn’t work, they understand that we have to then do whatever we feel in prayer is necessary to make sure that lack of unity doesn’t bring division among our staff and in the church.
Because remember: as a pastor, your main responsibility is to be a shepherd of God’s people. They, as a whole, are your priority.
I applaud you for asking this question. Unity is certainly hard to keep, but when you do the hard work of making it happen, the result is well worth it!