By Tim Spivey
The most overlooked and underrated trait of people who serve in healthy, growing churches is a positive attitude.
This isn’t to be mistaken for blindness to obstacles or a “yes man/woman” posture. I’m talking about one’s primary attitude, and whether it is oriented toward self/others and criticism/encouragement.
What weather do they produce in the church on an average day? Does their presence bring sunshine or clouds, the screech of dying cats, or the delightful sound of singing birds?
Go to any church doing great things for the Kingdom year after year. I guarantee you, you will be able to smell the joy and excitement in the air — because the “air” of the church is determined by those who serve in the church — especially leaders.
Show me a place served by control freaks, the easily offended, the seldom laughing, the gnat-strainers, the problem-oriented, and I will show you a church in or headed for decline. They are on the road to “death by attitude.”
Many suggest church health/growth is determined by “vision.” I’ve always been more of the mind that, “Culture eats vision for breakfast.” And, attitude is a leading indicator of culture. You can’t execute a God-honoring vision without God-honoring culture.
If you fill your ministries with critical or Eeyore-ish staff, ministry leaders and volunteers, you have no chance of success. How do I know? Because God won’t honor it, and people are repelled by it. Also, big-time goals take big-time energy, and bad attitudes drain energy.
Don’t overlook the importance of a healthy attitude when you select people to serve in any capacity in your church. Look for:
- An understanding of the importance of every task of ministry as Christ-honoring. Nothing is beneath them
- An orientation toward encouragement rather than criticism
- They exhibit the fruits of the Spirit in their interactions with others
- An ability to manage anxiety or “heartburn” in ways that avoid gossip, slander, passive-aggressiveness or worse
- They love the church in how they serve and what they say
- They have a supportive orientation toward leadership, with challenge/critique being a next or last resort…not a first.
Where do you find these people? They don’t grow on trees. They grow in your church as the Holy Spirit and leadership do their cultivating work.
If you only seem to have people with terrible attitudes serving, it’s because you’ve empowered them…or you are one of them. Time for a change.
Finally, choose the less capable person with the better attitude every time — and train them. It is far easier to equip for competency than to transform or root out a bad attitude.
Tim Spivey is lead planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, CA. Tim is also an adjunct professor of religion at Pepperdine University and purveyor of New Vintage Leadership, a blog offering cutting-edge insights on leadership and theology. He is the author of numerous articles and the book: Jesus, the Powerful Servant.