How Loyal Is Your Staff? by Marvin Yoder

How Loyal Is Your Staff?
Marvin Yoder

Marvin and his wife, Leah, recently stepped away from their role as founders and pastors of LifePointe Church in Mattoon, Illinois, and LifePointe Church in Arcola, Illinois. Marvin recently re-joined the staff of Rhema Bible Church and Rhema Bible Training Center in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Marvin is a graduate of Rhema Bible Training Center. Marvin has a rich ministerial background, having pastored several churches, working in Christian education, and traveling extensively as an itinerant minister. Prior to starting the church in Mattoon, Marvin has authored several books and study guides, including Movin’ On Up and The Traveling Minister’s Handbook. Marvin and Leah have three children, Christina Anne, Nichole Joy, and Audrey Danielle.


LoyaltyYou’ve all heard of it . . .

  • The music minister did something different than the senior pastor wanted to do in the service.
  • The youth minister subtly twists the senior pastor around his thumb.
  • The associate pastor encourages people in the congregation to look to him instead of pointing them to the senior pastor.
  • A staff person secretly decides to start a church across town (or around the corner) and takes as many people from the congregation as he can with him.

Every leader who has staff working for them has to deal with the issue of loyalty. They can put up with a lot of other things being less than perfect, but loyalty from the staff to the leader is absolutely vital for the success of the leadership and their organization. Cicero said it this way, “Nothing is more noble, more venerable, than loyalty.”1

It is easy to be loyal when things go how a person wants it, or when everyone agrees on something. It is in difficult times, e.g. when a person disagrees with their leader, that loyalty is tested. Loyalty will be proven (or disproven) when a person is passed over for a promotion, has to be corrected or disciplined, or don’t get the assignment they want. Martin Luther stated that, “Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proven.”2

Loyalty Is a High Prize to Have in Staff People

The work of the Lord can abound be in your midst where there is loyalty! There you can also find unity, and God’s blessings come where there is unity (Psalms 133:1-3).

2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV – For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.

More people will come to know the Lord where there is loyal among staff because it enables teamwork, and thus greater results are possible.

1 Kings 8:59-61, NKJV – 59 And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near the LORD our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day may require, 60 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. 61 Let your heart therefore be loyal to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day.”

Let’s face it . . . in today’s digital world of easy access information, there are many people, organizations, and ideas vying for the attention and allegiance of your staff. Information, presentations, organizations, personalities, and superb oratory skills can easily wow your staff into embracing a different direction than your vision for your church. We all know the devil loves to create strife and discord in the church, and the higher up in the church that he can do that, the greater the fallout within the church.

Most leaders have had the unpleasant experience of waking up to discover the disloyal efforts of some staff person threatening to undermine their church, and then had to confront, correct, discipline, and sometimes terminate them. If that has happened to you, you are not alone . . . King David also experienced disloyalty among his people:

2 Samuel 20:1-2, NKJV – 1 And there happened to be there a rebel, whose name was Sheba the son of Bichri, a Benjamite. And he blew a trumpet, and said: “We have no share in David, Nor do we have inheritance in the son of Jesse; Every man to his tents, O Israel!” 2 So every man of Israel deserted David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah, from the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, remained loyal to their king.

Six Signs of Disloyalty in Your Staff

Some leaders stated they were totally surprised that a staff member was being disloyal to them until they had major conflict. However, a leader can often see little clues alerting them of questionable activity in a staff person. Leaders must always try to discern the true reasons why a staff person does things, and should begin by asking questions rather than immediately accusing their staff people of being disloyal. Here are six signs alerting a leader to the beginning stages that a staff person may be disloyal . . .

1. Not completing the educational assignments their leader gives them

It is a leader’s responsibility to help their staff members grow in the same direction as they are going. Educational assignments help your staff to better themselves, grow in the right direction, and give better service to their leaders. When a leader give a book, an article, a CD or DVD, or a link to access online information to their staff, it is not only an opportunity to better themselves but it also tests their loyalty to the leader.

When the staff members complete the assignment that you give them, it shows that they have the same values that you do. If you consider it worthwhile to take the time to give them the information, then it should be worthwhile for them to incorporate that information into their own life.

The wise leader will watch the staff members who do not complete their educational assignments, and watch them in other areas as well. Often when staff members do not complete their educational assignments, they will also disobey the leader in other areas too.

2. Offering no specific information in their reports to their leader

Some personality types naturally tend to speak in generalities and with great exuberance. However, there are also times when staff people will speak only in generalities and great sounding adjectives because they have a certain agenda they want to accomplish. They are trying to gain certain equipment, privileges, positions, etc . . . they are serving themselves rather than their leader.

When you ask them how their ministry event or job is going they respond by saying “Great” or “Awesome” or “It was exciting” or “It was incredible.” That sounds good, but the leader still doesn’t know what actually happened. All you really know is they were excited or they wanted you to be excited about what they are doing.

A leader must learn to ask for facts, numbers, and specific information when a staff person responds like that. For example, when a staff person says they are “packed out” in their department and must have different facilities, a leader must ask questions to find out the circumstances, specific numbers, and frequency for being “packed out” before they respond to that request.

A good way to respond to a staff person who speaks in generalities instead of specifics, and with great sounding adjectives instead of facts, such “It was great!” is to say to them “Please explain what you mean by that.” Insist on specific facts and watch how they respond. Sometimes it’s just a person’s natural response to be excited and use generalities, and at other times a staff person’s agenda causes them to respond like that. In both cases, the leader must train the staff members to give a report containing enough specific information that he knows what actually went on with what they were doing.

3. Being continually cynical or critical of others to their leader

The standard rule of thumb is that if a person is cynical or critical of others to you, they will be cynical and critical of you and your leadership to others. Sometimes people say they are naturally cynical or critical, but the truth is, being critical of others is never a sign of godliness or spiritual maturity. Sometimes it’s simply a sign of insecurity, immaturity, or ignorance and at other times a staff person is using criticism to try to discredit others and promote themselves. They think this will elevate them in position, power, and influence. Sad to say but sometimes this method works . . . temporarily.

A critical person is a poor team member, and because of their outlook they are limited in contributing to the overall good of the team. A critical person is also an incompetent servant, because they are typically looking out for only one person . . . themselves. Finally, a critical person is a blame shifter, and focuses more on job security than on job achievements.

A leader should try to choose staff people who are capable of doing their work and also speak well of other staff people; in other words those who are “. . . giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:10).

4. Gathering people around themselves rather than pointing them to their leader

People will always give accolades and praise to those whom God uses to minister to them. However, a good staff person must learn that the same people who praise you one day may also be the same people who are upset with you the next day.

At times, some staff people have taken the praise of the people the wrong way, and began to inflate their estimate of their role and anointing, and end up drawing people around themselves rather than the pastor. This can begin innocently enough, but left unchecked by the staff person in their mind and emotions, it can lead to a disloyalty, and disloyalty left unchecked can lead to a church split. During this process, these staff people often forget that a position in ministry comes by calling and not by popular vote.

A wise leader will teach their staff people to give the praise to God, continually point the people to the church vision, and encourage people to follow their senior pastor.

5. When competing with other staff people

Staff people who compete with others do not have a true picture of their role. They tend to focus on their own efforts instead of the efforts of the whole team. They have an “I” mentality rather than a “we” mentality, which inhibits them from being a team player.

If these people are successful, it is usually in something they themselves did, or with a team where they could tell the others what to do. Very seldom will these people’s successful efforts be as just one of the members of a team. They may accomplish some great things, but typically do not contribute positively to the team as a whole.

Here are three truths about a staff person who competes with others in ministry:

  • First, they are not wise (2 Cor.10:12) and therefore not ready to be trusted with major responsibilities in the church.
  • Second, they are often insecure and fearful that others may take their place. Therefore their main efforts end up being focused on job security and “what I did.”
  • Third, they often keep the level of team achievement lower than what it could be, and actually prolong the time it takes to accomplish the church vision.

6. Not being consistent in their giving like they once were

There are few things that will enable the leader to measure a person’s value to the church like consistent, faithful giving both in good times and in difficult times. It is not the amount that is really important; it is the consistency in which a person gives. Jesus spoke of when He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).

When a staff person’s giving patterns change, it is often an indicator that other things are going on in that person’s life. Again, a leader should not be so concerned about the amount of the staff person’s giving going up or down as much as they should be watchful of erratic giving, especially when it coincides with difficult times in their staff position, or it shows up when they did not get something they wanted, e.g. they didn’t get the promotion, weren’t chosen to do a “desirable task,” or weren’t invited to “be the leader’s right hand person.”

Five Things a Leader Can Do to Avoid Disloyalty in His Staff

Finally it must be noted that a leader can do things to minimize the possibility of having disloyal staff people. John Maxwell said, “The benefit of developing people is loyalty.”3 Here are a few things a leader can do to encourage loyalty and dedication within their staff:

  1. Choose staff people on an established criteria instead of personalities.
  2. Challenge staff people to do their best in various ways, by encouragement, education and exhortation.
  3. Check up on staff people to evaluate, direct, or correct as needed.
  4. Compliment staff people for faithfulness or a job well done.
  5. Cheer the staff people on in accomplishing the vision.

Leaders Must See What Others Don’t See

Leaders must ask God to help them see a person’s heart. The prophet Samuel had to have God’s help to see who to choose as king of Israel, and the Lord told him how He chooses people: “…Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). God chooses a person who may make mistakes but has a right heart, but He does not choose a competent person who has a wrong motives in his heart.

Based upon your insights from Scripture, and from your personal experiences, what suggestions or ideas can you offer to help leaders develop loyalty among their staff?


1 Cicero., web. Dec. 16, 2014

2 Luther, Martin., web. Dec. 16, 2014

3 Maxwell, John., web. Dec. 16, 2014