Pastors' Forum


Best and Worst Traits

If there is one trait you love seeing in a staff member or volunteer, what is it? Similarly, what is one trait you feel is especially problematic in a staff member or volunteer?


Pastor Dan Roth – San Bernardino, CA

One trait I love to see in a volunteer, especially, is faithfulness. Even though they may not be the best at what they do, if they show up consistently, they are more valuable than an unreliable person with all the talent in the world.

For a staff member, that one trait would be passion. I pay them to show up consistently, so their heart had better be behind the expected hours and labor.

The worst trait for the staff member would be a ‘hireling mentality.’ Working at a church is so much more than a job. Similarly, the one trait for a volunteer that I think is the worst would be unreliability. If they say they will be there and you end up scrambling to fill their spot regularly, it is very frustrating.

Pastor Craig Basler – La Grange, KY

Over the years, I have come to appreciate people who are able to focus on their area of ministry and still have the ability to see the bigger picture. The person who thinks that the area they are passionate about is the most important, eventually becomes a problem for the rest of the team. I love team players who excel in their calling, yet understand how it fits into the bigger picture.

Pastor Dean Hawk – Colorado Springs, CO

A great book that has helped us tremendously is “The Ideal Team Player,” by Patrick Lencioni. It breaks down the three key essentials you are looking for when hiring or adding someone to your team. Here is a link to a book overview I wrote for my staff.

Pastor Alex Harten – Bonn, Germany

I am reminded of an interview I watched with the head of the German airline Lufthansa’s flight attendant school. He was asked what the prerequisites were for training at their school, and I loved his answer. He said, “The only thing required is a basic willingness to serve. We can teach the rest!” The one trait I love seeing in a staff member or volunteer is just that. I could call it humility, teachability, or availability, but the bottom-line is that I am looking for a basic willingness to serve and do whatever it takes to serve God, His people, and the world. We can teach the rest.

By implication, I would consider the absence of this kind of humility most problematic in a staff member. Highly skilled personnel are often tempted to focus on their skill set, neglecting the more important display of the fruit of the Spirit. I refuse to believe it has to be this way and keep looking for the good and faithful servants that know how to do things well.

Pastor Jane McDonnough – Tampa, FL

Best trait: Loyalty

Worst trait: Incompetency

BEST TRAITS: I like to have my staff or volunteer be one that is not easily offended, teachable, kind, faithful and dependable. They need to be able to work with others as a team.

WORST TRAITS: One that has an independent spirit, not teachable, one that does not keep their word and is unreliable; someone who does not work well with others.

Pastor Bill Anzevino – Industry, PA

One of the most important traits I look for in staff members or volunteers is people skills—or their ability to effectively communicate and interact with other staff members or individuals. Generally speaking, this would include their ability to relate to others, listen to others, and know how and when to show empathy. It would also include good listening and problem-solving skills, as well as maintaining a right mental attitude when dealing with people. One can have great charisma, but if his people skills are sub-par, then his ability to deal correctly with people can be detrimental to the ministry.

A problematic character trait involves narcissism. A narcissist person is mostly concerned about self; he knows more, he knows better. He has difficulty listening, following the rules, and he must always have it his way. This trait is one that must be identified and dealt with before the individual is given any position of leadership. If not, there will be unnecessary challenges that lie ahead.

Pastor Kevin Berry – Lansing, MI

I love seeing a team member who supports, communicates, and carries the vision God has given me for the Church. They take responsibility, initiative, and roll up their sleeves to do their part. I love to hear them talk about the vision with their leaders. It’s fueling to see the youth pastor put the vision on t-shirts for the students; to hear the staff talk about how they were praying through the vision one day or talking with their teams about how they could help accomplish the vision. My heart yells, YES!

It is extremely draining and disheartening when a team member has a ‘lone-ranger attitude.’ They have their own vision of what could be, should be, and must be. This attitude is often disguised as supportive as long as they get to pursue what their heart really longs to do, and how they think the church really should be. This person is a Joab—he was a strong competent leader for King David, but that the end of the day, Joab was going to do whatever he wanted to do. My heart yells, YIKES!

Pastor John Angelina – Munich, Germany

The answer to this question is easy for me:faithfulness.” Paul wrote to Timothy, a young pastor, these great words of wisdom:

2 Tim. 2:2
The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Please note the order in which Paul uses for a new staff member; first the faithful heart and then comes the ability. There are certain aspects of ministry that do require previous education and training, such as in administration, or joining the worship team but even in these areas of work within a church, the most important is a faithful heart.

Too often I have seen that when one is given a position simply based on ability rather than “a faithful heart,” at some point, hidden agendas manifest. Suddenly you find yourself in a house with more than one vision and that always leads to division.

When someone expects a position because of previous experience or because of their talent alone, we should exercise caution. Faithfulness can only be seen after we have walked together for a while.

In a day and age where many want to know, “what’s in it for me” and where people expect instant gratification, we must give people the chance to prove their faithfulness. The price for not doing this can be very high.

Paul wrote about himself in this way:

1 Tim. 1:12
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

Pastor Barry Fredericks – Newtown, CT

Faithfulness is surely a quality we look for in a staff member or a volunteer; that they would keep their word and we could depend on them doing what they say they will do.

The quality I love in a staff member or volunteer is a good attitude. Dealing with people always necessitates walking in love. Those who represent the church must remember this. We try to say what needs to be said, but saying things kindly and in love is vital. People get beat up by the world all of the time and they do not need to be beat up in church as well. Numerous situations where people are offended can be dealt with properly, and with the best chance of the offended person not leaving the church, if the attitude of those speaking with them is kind. The behavior is addressed, but the love for the person being addressed never changes. I believe the Lord Jesus deals with us in this manner and we endeavor to do the same.

A good attitude can be learned. Some seem to have a good attitude all of the time. Regardless, there are enough challenges in the ministry. Anger and resentment just makes what we do a burden rather than a blessing. We are not perfect, and we let those we deal with know that. If apologies are necessary, we do so. If they need to apologize, we endeavor to treat the person in a manner that makes it easier for them to repent.

The trait that is problematic to me is when a staff member or volunteer takes the side of an offended person or someone causing strife and makes the problem worse. We are not perfect and we make mistakes, but it is very important that those we work with stay on our side. We can discuss the circumstances and come up with a resolution, but it is vital that the staff member or the volunteer and I are on the same page. We had this problem many years ago and it was very challenging. That staff member is no longer with us and has not been for 27 years. It is fine to bring up something that has been done that needs correcting, but to basically rebel with the offended person and discuss the matters with others is unacceptable. Thank the Lord this has not happened again.

Pastor Jack Yurus – West Harrison, NY

I have been an athlete all my life. I have played many sports and have been on many teams. With my experience in sports, I can answer both questions in two words: “Team Player,” or not being a “Team Player.”

Those two words have a wealth of meaning.

  1. Understand that we all win or we all lose. There have been pitchers that have pitched a no-hitter and lost. It would be silly for the pitcher to get excited about a no hitter if his team lost and the fact that he gets the loss on his record.
  2. A team player doesn’t blame others for the loss—even when it might have been an error they committed that made the difference. Love covers.
  3. A team player will sacrifice his stats and desires for the sake of the team. You give up your ‘at bat’ to sacrifice bunt.
  4. A team player trusts the coach (submits); there can only be one final decision. Having someone pinch hit for you, or my favorite, having a coach come to the mound to take you out, requires you to submit. A team player doesn’t sulk and complain when that happens.
  5. A team player considers others and their ministries above their own. If it benefits the team, they would step down from a position if someone is more qualified and find out where else they could best serve the team. I was blessed with the ability to play every position well. I was also a good hitter. As I would join a new team as a pitcher, they tried to put me in a traditional role by putting me in a rotation, which meant I didn’t play between starts. I knew that there were several positions I could play better than the person that had that position. I kept a good attitude (it wasn’t always easy) and waited for my opportunity. One day the opportunity came when the catcher wasn’t able to play. They were hesitant at first, but I convinced them to let me catch. Being a pitcher, I did for the pitchers what I wanted catchers to do for me. I knew how to read batters as well as umpires. I also would assess which pitches were working well and which ones weren’t. Most importantly, I threw out runners attempting to steal. The coaches who didn’t want me to catch were now having a conversation about not having me pitch because we were a better team with me catching. I had to convince them that I could do both, and I did for many years.
  6. A team player will help someone develop even if they were training someone who might take their job. It may not be easy or seem unfair, but if you trust God He will take care of you. This happened to my wife. She applied for a position at her job but they decided to hire someone from outside of the company. Then, they asked her to train her. You could imagine how she must have felt. At first, she didn’t want to do it, but she felt the Lord wanted her to. Not long after that, the position and whole division were disbanded and the company let three thousand people go. The department and position my wife held was one of the few they retained.

Another way I could answer this question would be to say a good trait is someone who is not offended easily and a problematic trait would be someone that is offended easily.

James 3:16
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

Strife will deplete the anointing in your life and in your work. Guard against it. Don’t be slow to deal with it.

Pastor Hagin gave great advice that I use in ministry, as well as work. I will ask some to help for a week or head up a project. When the week is up or the project is over, and it’s clear that they are not a team player, I can say thank you and move on. If they are what I was looking for, I could offer them a job at that point.

Pastor Duane Hanson – Mendota Heights, MN

This question was an easy one to answer. In my experience, both the “Best” and the “Worst” trait would be faithfulness or unfaithfulness. It’s like two sides of the same coin. Heads we win—tails we lose!

In my early years, I occasionally made the mistake of promoting employees and staff members into positions of leadership based on what I considered their potential, without first observing their level of faithfulness. I repeated this mistake initially in my business career, and again when I transitioned into the ministry.

Unfortunately, when you’re pioneering a church, you can get desperate for help and prematurely give people responsibilities they’re not ready to handle. As I spent time with someone, I began to recognize their giftedness, and considered where they could be plugged in to a position of leadership that needed filling. Consequently, after the fact, I came to realize that I had not given them the opportunity to prove themselves faithful in positions of lesser responsibility. In some cases I was able to help the person make the necessary adjustments and succeed in their position of responsibility, while others just couldn’t make it, and had to be removed. [Their failure and removal was actually my responsibility!] Had I first given each one of them an entry level responsibility where they could demonstrate their faithfulness, I would have saved both of us the heartache of removing them from leadership.

The Scriptures have numerous examples that illustrate the Lord’s attitude and perspective about the contrast of faithfulness and unfaithfulness. In His eyes, faithfulness is one of the primary traits that Jesus valued in His disciples above many others.

I would imagine that most believers are familiar with the parable of the talents that Jesus taught in Matthew 25, where He said, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!” I would also imagine that most believers would hope to hear those same words from the Lord when they eventually see Him face-to-face. [I know I do!] In the parable, Jesus commended the servants who had been faithful with “a few things.” Because of their faithfulness, the Lord rewarded each one by making them a “ruler over many things.” The final promise being that they would “enter into the joy of the Lord.” Jesus continues teaching and explains that, “the man who is unfaithful, even what little responsibility he has shall be taken from him,” defining the contrast of faithfulness and unfaithfulness.

Many believers would also be familiar with The Parable of the Unjust Steward in Luke 16. In this instance, Jesus clearly contrasts the character traits of the one who is faithful, with the one who is unfaithful. 

Luke 16:10 [MaceNT]
He that is faithful in a small trust, will be faithful in a greater: and he that is unfaithful in a little, will be unfaithful in much.

Those who prove themselves trustworthy and faithful with the least of things in the Kingdom, will be faithful and trustworthy in the true riches of the Kingdom. While those who have been unfaithful with that which is another man’s, will not be entrusted with that which is their own. It’s a proving ground based on the test of faithfulness.

In my many years of experience, the simplest answer to the question this month is found in the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthian Church.

1 Corinthians 4:2 [KJV]
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Some translations of this verse use the terms “it is expected,” or it is our first dutyto be faithful and trustworthy.

Therefore, the most problematic and “worst trait” would be unfaithfulness, while the “best trait” would have to be faithfulness, as made plain from the Amplified Bible.

1 Corinthians 4:2 [AMP]
Moreover, it is [essentially] required of stewards that a man should be found faithful [proving himself worthy of trust].

I believe the best trait any of us can bring to our area of ministry, our vocation, our family, our church, and to every area of life, is faithfulness! As the Bible says, it is required of us, and expected of us, and it is our first duty!

Pastor Marvin Salcido- Tyler, TX

Best trait: Having their heart fully connected. Having their heart fully connected always produces trust, intimacy, and security in our relationship!

Worst trait: When they start maintaining and quit gaining ground. I regularly remind our team and church that we are to always be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Pastor Thom Fields – Kennewick, WA

I believe that one of the very most important traits that anybody who is looking for, interested in, or possibly expecting promotion in their life, would be this one: CREDIBILITY. When a person goes in for an interview attempting to land a new job, whether it’s their very first job or simply the next step in their journey towards success, their credibility will either open or close the door before them. Will an individual be elevated from the position of team member to the team leader? Credibility will play a role in that decision. Can a leader, business owner, or pastor increase the arena of his or her influence? It will be dependent upon that individuals level of credibility.

Each of us know people who have worked hard to increase their credibility. Likewise, it only takes a second to be reminded of an individual whose credibility dropped so rapidly that everybody in their world, regardless of how big or small their name had become, took notice. Credibility is a BIG DEAL.

I’m certain that there’s a ton of information regarding credibility, along with a plethora of how-to videos teaching “5 Keys to Elevating Your Potential,” or whatever. I’ll share what I’ve learned regarding credibility that has been tremendously helpful for me. Pastor Kevin Gerald, Champions Centre in Washington State, wrote a book entitled, The Proving Ground. In his book, he breaks credibility down into three basic categories from which our credibility operates: (1) competence, (2) personality, and (3) character.

Competence: Does an individual possess the required ability to perform the job required? Obviously, we can always learn and grow in this arena. However, I need my staff/volunteer to at least have a basic skills set already in place. If they’re joining the worship team, for example, can they play an instrument? I know they can get better, but I don’t have time to actually teach them how to play the guitar from scratch. Their competence impacts their credibility for this position.

Personality: Will this individual bring life to the team or make everybody wish they could die? Some people have tremendous competence but their personality sabotages their own credibility. As a matter of fact, I’ve met people that could easily run off an entire team of committed volunteers in very short order. Personality is HUGE. Negativity, for example, is like a poison. If a prospective staff member refuses to take ownership of their negative personality and make appropriate adjustments, they lose credibility and can’t be trusted with the job.

Character: Probably the biggest trait of credibility on the list. One might have incredible competence and a wonderful personality. However, if they constantly over-promise and under-produce, their credibility takes a major hit. Back to our worship team member; our example might be an extremely gifted guitar player. Everybody may love his outgoing personality and really like every moment spent with them. However, every Sunday morning is a guessing game regarding whether or not he’s actually going to show up on time, prepared to help the team win. His lack of character impedes his credibility.

If we plan to grow effective ministries, the credibility of our team is crucial. We need the credibility of competence if people are going to be willing to trust our leadership. We need credibility of personality in order for our community to fully engage with us, and we need credibility of character for them to truly believe that we can put into practice the lessons that we’re attempting to teach.

Credibility is the trait I need most from teammates and credibility is the most problematic trait I’m required to deal with, as well. We can all testify of moments where we’ve seen our own credibility fall like a rock due to one bad decision or elevate as we made the right choices. Just remember this: lowering your credibility is MUCH EASIER than increasing it. CREDIBILITY MASTERS!

Pastor Wendy Preston – Aylesbury, England

Naturally, the best trait for any pastor is to have a dear heart willing to do anything that’s needed in the local assembly while recognizing that everyone has a role and a part to play. An example: we have a couple in our church that came to us who are actually qualified ministers of the Gospel and yet understand that being submitted to a pastor in a church body is of the utmost importance. They came with references and a letter of release from their former church pastor, left with his blessing and approval, and requested that I contact their former pastor for a character reference. Even though they are ministers themselves, they came with the words and attitude of, “we will do whatever is needed,” and even with the mindset that they would never leave our church family until I felt it was time for them to go, regardless of what God maybe saying to them. I’m so thankful ….I wish everyone came that way!

The worst trait to me is someone who feels they can stay home from church to hear God (not recognizing that God has put a pastor over a body of believers as an under shepherd so that the Body can hear from God)!

To me, the ministry gifts in the Church are vitally important and people that do not recognize these offices do not respect what God has put in place. They not only miss out on the supernatural supply and answers they need, but it shows a lack of respect for God’s divine order. They can be led away by familiar voices (as there are many of them in the world).

Anyone who comes to church regularly, you can teach, train, and equip. But the man who stays home periodically to watch teaching on TV is unchangeable and usually full of pride. The apostle Paul stated (Wendy paraphrase), “I long to see your face that I may impart something unto you.” So to me, the man who stays home to rest and hear from God is the worst trait—it’s impossible to impart anything to them.

Pastor Nancy Palmer – Pennsauken, NJ

Best traits in volunteers and staff members is to see them smiling and willing to be at their responsible post 30 minutes before service, ready to welcome the guest with a great attitude. When talking to them, they have a good attitude toward people even if they are stressed out.

Worst traits: to be late and not prepared for the service they are to serve in.

Pastor Doug Foutty – Parkersburg, WV

I love seeing the willingness to try something out of their comfort zone. That shows me a willing heart and the faith to believe God to help them complete the task.

As far as negative, I guess I hate lying. I don’t like when someone feels the need to fabricate a story to explain why they can’t do something instead of just openly discussing why they aren’t comfortable giving it a try. We have the Holy Spirit and He will help discern the truth. There is no reason to lie.

We truly appreciate all of the ministry of helps and could not continue without them. Their job is of great importance to the Body of Christ. I don’t think we can thank these people enough.

Pastor Ray Eppard – Staunton, VA

During 2018, I was giving thought to this very question as we were looking to expand our staff. I came across an excellent book that I would highly recommend The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni.

In the book, he recommends viewing all aspects of staffing through the lens (filter) of three traits: humble, hungry, and smart. After reading the book and spending time reflecting on it, I am sold on the concept of these three traits being very important in staffing.

As I look back at all problems that we have had over the years, those people would have had a low rating in the traits of hungry, humble, and smart. I have also found that if there are deficiencies in these areas, it is difficult to get overall performance to increase.

Those who would rate well in these areas (hungry, humble, smart) are the ones who benefit the ministry, function well in leadership roles, and are a blessing. They grow and become more effective.

I have found that all other traits that I value are impacted by the degree that a person is humble, hungry, and smart—for good or bad. Thus, those lacking in these three areas (humble, hungry, smart) are problematic.

I found these to be very good baseline traits/characteristics to help determine overall potential, and I highly recommend the book for pastors and leaders.

Pastor Craig Teddy – Mustang, OK

To me, the best quality in a volunteer is being FAITHFUL! If a person is faithful in their attendance, I am able to count on them!

To me, the worse quality would be in their attitude! If they have a bad attitude and are unteachable, not only is it hard to work with them, but it may affect the other members of those in the ministry of helps.

Pastor Ray Almaguer –  Covina, CA

If you ask me, attitude is king. The best trait I can see in a staff member or volunteer is a good attitude. I believe a good attitude is more important than giftedness or skill. It is more important than talent or anointing. As my pastor, Gerald Brooks, is fond of saying, “No amount of giftedness can make up for a bad heart.” I completely believe that statement. As a pastor, I have seen first-hand the truth of those words. Of course, skill and ability are important. Obviously, a singer should be able to sing. However, I would rather have a singer with an average voice than a singer with an amazing voice who caused division on the team. I believe skill and talent are important, they’re just not the most important thing.

A bad attitude is the worst trait I can see in a staff member or volunteer. In fact, if someone consistently displays a bad attitude, they won’t be on any of our teams for long. A bad attitude leads to gossip, complaining, and faultfinding. These are death to a team and ultimately a church. The sad news is bad attitudes spread faster than good ones.

I believe my attitude is my choice, so I choose to have a good one. I do all I can to lead by example in this area. I expect the leaders in our church to lead by example too.