In General
photo: Raymond Bryson, Creative Commons

photo: Raymond Bryson, Creative Commons

Many of us played a sport as we were growing up and learned the old adage, “teamwork makes the dream work,” and other inspirational phrases we had screen-printed on our t-shirts. Those experiences taught us the value of doing things together, that we’re often much stronger together than we are alone.

Whether you are a pastor, or a teacher, or a contractor, or a banker, I bet we can all agree that teamwork is important. Whatever your job now, whether you’re on a team, or a part of a team occasionally, or leading a team, we know our work is better when it’s done in a team.


Not necessarily.

Being on a team isn’t enough to create teamwork. 

This is something I’ve learned the hard way over years of ministry. The team has to be assembled intentionally and carefully in order to make this kind of synergy happen.

As a pastor, that’s a difficult thing to say, because we should give everyone a shot, right? And while yes, in life and friendship and relationship, we should give everyone a shot, work is different.

Our teams, our ministries, our schools, our bottom line suffers when we assemble our team based on who we want to give a chance, instead of who can get the job done. We need a filter, an intentional list of questions to ask to make sure this person is the best one for our team, instead of someone we just really like.

With intentionality and the right questions, our team will be far healthier and more successful.

I’ve laid out five checkpoints to stop at during the hiring process: I call them the 5 Cs. I hope they’re as helpful for your team as they’ve been for mine.

The 5 things to consider before hiring a new team member:

1. Competency

Often we want to give someone the benefit of the doubt, or focus on the qualities they do have, rather than the ones they don’t. But the bottom line is that if your team needs a graphic designer, hiring someone who has a great heart but knows nothing about design is not going to get the job done.

When we hire people who are wonderful human beings, but cannot do the job we need them to do—we put our whole team in a frustrating and difficult position.

Competency is key.

Ask yourself: Can they do the job?

2. Character

Have you ever worked on a team with someone who would lose their cool completely under pressure? That’s one of the hardest things for a team—making the situation even more difficult than it needs to be and escalating the tension where it doesn’t need to be escalated.

All of our jobs are difficult and stressful sometimes, but you can tell a lot about a person by how they respond to that stress.

It’s okay to feel stress, but it’s not okay to lose our grip on our character in those circumstances. If the person you’re considering hiring can’t handle stress, they’re not going to be a good addition to your team.

Ask yourself: What is their character like?

3. Chemistry

Most of us spend at least a third of our weeks at work, which means we’re spending a third of our month, a third of our year, a third of our lives (more or less) at work. When you look at it that way, the people you work with become extremely important.

Chemistry is an important part of the team, and it’s something to consider when making hiring decisions.

Ask yourself: Does this person have chemistry with our team?

4. Capacity 

Most of our teams would like to grow, am I right? We’d like to be better at our jobs, make a greater impact, earn more money, provide a better quality of life for our employees and our customers. That’s an important thing to remember when hiring someone new for the team.

Ask yourself: is this a person who could grow with us? If not, they may not be a great fit.

5. Culture

Different organizations and businesses operate differently. A company like Apple has different cultural values than a hospital, a different code of conduct, different things that are required of their employees.

This is an important thing to weigh when making a new hiring decision.

Ask yourself: Will this person fit into the culture we have created here?


One last thing we need to be willing to do when assembling a team is this: we need to be willing to say no. This is difficult, especially as a pastor, but it’s important, both for our team and the person we’re saying no to.

I heard a great thought from the founder of Plywood People, Jeff Shinabarger. He empowers us to say “no,” pointing out how our “no” is somebody else’s “yes.” When we turn down a job, or an opportunity, or even a person applying to work for us, another person gets to say yes.