Pastors' Forum


Great Traits

What are the traits and characteristics you appreciate most in volunteers, workers, and leaders in your church?


Pastor John B. Lowe – Warsaw, IN 
Besides the obvious Christian traits like honesty, you know, basic stuff:

  1. Commitment.
  2. Follow through.
  3. Deep love for the Lord and people.
  4. Willingness to get the job done with as much excellence as possible (sometimes churches don’t have all the resources other churches may have).
  5. Not easily offended.
  6. Trainable or teachable—however you wish to say it. They will listen and do as asked.
  7. Common sense and an attitude of get it done, not afraid of doing something without being asked, and self-initiative.

Pastor Mark Brazee – Tulsa, OK
Of all the things we value, faithfulness is what we look for most in our volunteers, workers and leaders. Those who are faithfully and willingly putting their hands to whatever is needed are usually the best help. They live by the job description “whatever it takes.” Most of our staff and leaders were first enthusiastic volunteers. As they put their hands to what was needed, we began to see giftings, talents and skills in them which allowed us to see other areas where they might enjoy being involved. As other areas opened up where we needed help, we realized that “the miracle was in the house” in the form of a person who was faithfully helping wherever they could.

For people to continue to thrive and desire to be involved long term, it is important to have them where they are happy and feel they can use the abilities they have. We don’t usually look for people who are extremely gifted, though some areas definitely require some talents or giftings. For example, those on the worship team should have a good singing voice. However, sometimes those that are extremely gifted in an area are aware of that fact and can be difficult to work with.

Another thing we look for is a team player attitude—people who are more interested in the team than their position. There is no limit to what God can do for and through someone that is willing to hand the job off to someone that can do it better. People who have a heart for the team are not only able to do the job, but they are training and encouraging others as well. They see beyond themselves to the team as well as the individual people who are involved—they are cultivating people as well as growing a department. With individuals like this, a department is never left high and dry when people take vacation, a missions trip or even relocate to another city or nation. These are team builders and they are invaluable.

Pastor Mark Boer – Boise, ID
Probably the most valuable trait I look for has to do with heart motivation. I desire that those who serve in our ministry have a God consciousness. What I mean by this is that they see whatever they do—greeting, working with kids, leading worship, building maintenance, teaching, etc. as their service to God—not me. It is serving with the knowledge that whatever is done to the least of these is done to Jesus. Ephesians 6:7—with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Colossians 3:23 – And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

There seems to be an abundance of encouragement these days to thank people for working in the church, giving in the offering, and other acts of service. Although I think we should love, appreciate, and highly value every person that serves the Lord with us, the potential downside is that we are building a consciousness of man’s approval versus God’s. When a person sees what they do with their time, talent and treasure as obedience, devotion, and service to the Lord, they are much less likely to jump ship if hardship or a lack of praise from man comes. Paul knew whom he was serving and ultimately accountable to when he said, “Woe is me if I don’t preach the gospel!” When referencing giving in Hebrews 7, he said, “Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.”

When those who serve are aware that God will not forget their work and labor of love (Heb. 6:10), even though sometimes people will, it will motivate them to do what they do at a high level. They will be the ones who show up on time, complete what they start, keep a good attitude, and view it all as a privilege to be a part of God’s kingdom.

Pastor Tim Kutz – Bartlesville, OK
This is a very important question and decisions made in this area are impacting and long-lasting. The right person(s) in leadership and helps ministry can assist in fueling your momentum, and the wrong person(s) can hinder your progress and the effects can last well beyond any schism created!!!

The greatest characteristic that I value in any person in ANY place in the church is loyalty. Loyalty takes precedence over talent, appearance, length of time in the church, personal skills, Bible school training or any other thing that you might weigh in choosing someone for a task or position.

What you need to look for is someone that you can count on no matter what! People like this are few and far between.

The second thing that I look for in a leader (especially) is someone that is THERE. Many people seem to have a heart for you and the church, but when you have fellowships, work days, prayer meetings and discipleship classes are they there? You will find that a person is only as committed as they show! I know this sounds simple, and a no brainer, but so many people install leaders that are not fully committed.

If you are going to have board members and staff members, they pretty much have to be at most services and events. I especially look for fellowships. A person that is good at being at all of the spiritual things but not the natural things is really not a spiritual person. You need to know that.

The third thing that I look for is their financial involvement. Not quantity, but percentages. Are they generous? Where their treasure is, that’s where their heart is!

Another trait that I look for is a person that knows how to listen; someone who is not trying to dominate the conversation all of the time. We already know what we know. In order to learn we need to zip our lip!!!

I always look for a person that is at least 10 minutes early. If you are not 10 minutes early, you are late!!! Showing up right on time shows an “I’ll do what’s required of me but no more attitude.”

And the last thing I look for is someone who can work without close supervision, and can and will finish the task that is given to them without having to be asked where it is. Communication from them concerning meeting deadlines is a priority for me.

Pastor Guinn Shingleton – Terre Haute, IN
Faithfulness!  Above all else, faithfulness. While it is important to have certain gifts, talents, and abilities in order for a local church to operate, the plan falls apart without volunteers who are faithful to the pastor and his/her plan. I would rather have a person with a servant’s heart and average skills than a gifted prima donna any day.

Faithfulness to a local church and the pastor always begins with faithfulness to God and His Word. I try to observe those who not only complete their natural assignments, but those who are faithful to church services where they are being fed. Too often those who are “addicted to serving” will burn out because they aren’t in service enough or are neglecting to keep themselves built up on their own.

Next to faithfulness, I look for a teachable spirit. Those who are willing to take constructive criticism with a humble spirit will set the example for their co-laborers in the local church. It was for a good reason that the Holy Spirit inspired Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) – “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”

A volunteer who is faithful and has a humble, teachable spirit will set the example for others and cause them to come up higher in their thinking and doing. These are the types of people I look for when seeking leaders.

1 Corinthians 4:2 (NLT)
“Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful.”

The Amplified version is even more pointed.

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

One pastor with a successful ministry once said that he had an MBO degree:  Managing By Observation. He gave assignments and checked to see if they were being carried out to his specifications. Those who had the right attitude and were faithful were promoted. He also said “People won’t always do what you expect, but they will do what you inspect.” Those who are faithful in little…attendance, faithfulness to their assignment, and giving…are the ones I tag for promotion to leadership positions. Most of us have promoted people for lesser reasons…DON’T!

So before you promote, give “measurable tasks” to see if the volunteer does the best that you feel they can do. Even in promoting to leadership positions we must understand that not everyone has the same potential. As Jesus taught, give leadership not only based on loyalty, but on their “several abilities”. Don’t give a permanent promotion to a position that you may need to later place a person who is faithful plus has the gifting to (as they say) “take it to the next level.” As a pastor, if you will be faithful to your volunteers and invest yourself into them, they will bless you and bring increase to the local church and to the Kingdom of God.

Pastor Bill Anzevino – Industry, PA
The best volunteers, workers and leaders are those who are humble, faithful, compassionate, caring, forgiving, encouraging, generous, submissive, not easily provoked, relational, focused, and teachable. They are able to receive correction, approachable, morally pure and possess the heart of a servant. They have good people skills and understand the importance of representing Christ with a spirit of excellence.

Jesus said stewards must be faithful in small things, in financial responsibility and in helping others succeed.

Heart attitudes and motives are more important than anything I can think of. If you can find those who represent your heart, and the heart of God, you’ve done well.

Dr. Dave Williams – Lansing, MI
This answer is simple and to the point.

All leaders and workers have to be trusted and must build trust in the church, by both their attitudes and actions. Trust is Number One.

Second, each team member has to add value to the church in the area of their oversight or responsibilities.

As pastor, I developed a nine point checklist for those who would build trust and add value:

  1. Does the person have a servant’s heart…or just want the “prestige” of a position?
  2. Does the person have a teachable heart…or knows it all already?
  3. Does the person have a desire to draw closer to Jesus…or please the crowds?
  4. Does the person demonstrate faithfulness in the smaller things?
  5. Does the person exhibit loyalty to the church and its ministries?
  6. Does the person have a record of diligence…or laziness?
  7. Does the person show creativity…or simply come to you with problems and no solutions?
  8. Does the person possess the integrity expected of Christ’s followers…or is he chameleon like?
  9. Does the person have a history of quality and excellence…or shabbiness and “good enough?”

Asking these nine questions about leaders, workers, and leadership candidates will help you build the kind of team others will trust and value. As a result, your leadership will be trusted and your church will add value to people’s lives.

Pastor Phil Edwards – Ennice, NC
Faithfulness, working toward excellence, someone who will finish the job, someone who will protect my anointing, someone who is a generalist and not just a specialist.

Pastor Kevin Berry – Lansing, MI
There are 4 traits that come to mind right away that I deeply appreciate in the amazing team here at Mount Hope Church!

  1. A servant’s heart – it blesses me weekly to watch ordinary people roll up their sleeves and serve. Every week they hit the streets as part of Champions Club and they serve the children and families of our community. I watch business men and women who are extremely busy take the time to serve by hosting a missionary, serving food at an event, or caring for a couple whose marriage is hanging on by a thread. They are Kingdom-class servants. They believe the words of Jesus – it really is better to serve than to be served.
  2. A teachable attitude – nobody likes a know-it-all. I so appreciate the teachable attitude that is rich in our team at Mount Hope Church. They realize that better is a journey, not a destination, so they are always wanting to learn how to be better!
  3. An extra-mile attitude – It blesses my socks off when I see a volunteer going the extra mile to bless a guest or another member, such as taking the time to walk a person to a classroom instead of just pointing their finger in the right direction. This principle of excellence is huge…it takes you out of the land of the ordinary and into the extraordinary!
  4. An ever-increasing desire to draw close to Jesus. All true ministry is an overflow of a person’s relationship with God. The best volunteers and leaders in the church are the ones who minister out of the overflow of what Jesus is already doing in their heart and life!

Pastor Bernie Samples – Barstow, CA
Years ago as a baby pastor after a few disappointments in ministry, I did a lot of praying and analysis on this subject. The criterion I came up with and have used for many years is this:

I want people that are:

1) Hungry for The Word—because if they aren’t hungry and already attending more than one service per week, they won’t have what it takes to help others.

2) Loyal and faithful to Jesus, me their pastor, and their church family—because I need to know that when tough times come they aren’t going to turn on us or desert.

3) Tithers and givers—Jesus said (paraphrased), “Where a person invests their money is where you can tell their heart is.”

4) Willing to be used by God in what He has gifted and called them to do (in our ministry)—this is very important to me because I found out early on that some people came and got trained, built up and never helped in our ministry but took all we invested in them to para-church organizations.

Hope this helps because these guidelines have been very effective in our ministry for nearly a quarter of a century.

Pastor Duane Hanson – Saint Paul, MN
The character trait that I appreciate more than any other is “Faithfulness!”

In our early years of ministry, I made the mistake of promoting people to positions of authority and responsibility based upon their giftedness and natural abilities. I hadn’t learned and taken seriously Paul’s instructions to “prove” people first before giving them any authority in the church (1 Tim. 3:10). Eventually I learned the principle of discipleship that involved looking for “faithful” people, as described in 2 Timothy, Chapter Two.

2 Timothy 2:1-2 (AMP)
SO YOU, my son, be strong (strengthened inwardly) in the grace (spiritual blessing) that is [to be found only] in Christ Jesus. And the [instructions] which you have heard from me along with many witnesses, transmit and entrust [as a deposit] to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to teach others also.

In most cases we were able to work through the challenges of discipleship that spiritual growth and maturity required; but in others, it caused hurt that could have been avoided if I had first given them the test of faithfulness.

From a scriptural perspective, my thoughts went to The Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23, where faithfulness is a major characteristic of this list. Any one of these nine attributes of The Fruit of the Spirit is essential for volunteers and leaders in the church, but faithfulness is a vital component within a ministry team.

As a young man, I was very active and involved in the Boy Scouts of America. While on my way to becoming an Eagle Scout, I was indoctrinated with the Boy Scout Oath, Motto, and especially the “Law” of Scouting. We rehearsed the Oath and recited the Scouting Law nearly every week at our meetings. I haven’t been involved with Scouting for years, but that “Law” is ingrained into my memory, and I can still recall and “confess” those qualities today. When I first read the question for this month, my initial thoughts went directly to the twelve traits, or characteristics of that Boy Scout Law. According to that Law, a Boy Scout should be… “Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean & Reverent.” It would be encouraging if every aspect and character trait of this Law was adopted by most Christians today, because the World, and the testimony of the Church, would profit from us doing so.

I must admit, that I do look for the fruit of the Spirit in the volunteers and leaders of our church, and I also admire those who demonstrate the qualities of the Boy Scout Law in their everyday lives.

The most compelling reason for me personally to look for the character trait of faithfulness is connected to the words Jesus spoke in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. I imagine that most of us would hope to hear these words when we come face-to-face with Jesus: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!

There are numerous other character traits that pop into my head when I think about this question, such as humility, loyalty, reliability, trustworthiness, teachableness, being willing & obedient, being like the Centurion, who was a man under authority and demonstrated a submitted attitude, etc., etc. However, I believe all of these character traits should be built upon the foundation of faithfulness, and that all of these qualities must be maintained through a lifestyle of faithfulness. Therefore, after more than thirty years of ministry experience, I would put the character trait of “Faithfulness” at the top of my list.

Pastor Brad Allen – San Mateo, CA
The volunteers in the church are an extension of the pastoral ministry of the senior pastor. When the volunteers do what the pastor would do in the same situation, you have a successful church. In order for this to happen, the volunteers need to be coachable, humble, and easy to communicate with.

The best people that I’ve ever worked with were the ones that would call in mid-week and check up on how things went on Sunday and ask for input on how things could be improved.

The hardest people to work with are the ones that have a different vision and feel like their viewpoint needs to be shared and implemented. Of course, there are always two ways to do something. But unity and teamwork mean going with the leader’s plan and implanting it in the best way possible.

Joy is probably my favorite trait to see in a leader or volunteer. I think it’s one of the qualities that God most wants to see in me when I pray, worship, or communicate with anyone. Most things are done better in an atmosphere of joy.

Faithfulness is what we promote as leaders. Faithful people can be trained. Talented and gifted people are great and may need little or no training, but if they’re not faithful, they’re of no use at all. It’s a tragedy when unfaithful but extremely talented people are promoted and it’s painful when they let you down. Give me one faithful person who is trainable and we can build something great!

Along this line, we’ve found that unemployed people can seem terrific in church. But 9 out of 10 unemployed people cannot carry a leadership role in church. I love them, but the same problem that is keeping them from being hired Monday through Friday is the same problem that will show up if they are given a position of responsibility in church.

Teach and promote faithfulness. Model and cultivate joy and humility and your helpers and leaders will too.

Pastor Al Jennings – Fort Wayne, IN
Love, faithfulness, patience, faith, loyalty, and perseverance.

Pastor Gary Hoffman – Rocky Mount, VA
Proverbs 19:22 says that what is desired in a man is kindness. Kindness is a trait that can be molded and trained and very teachable. 1 Cor 4:2 says that what is required in a steward is faithfulness. 2 Tim 2:2 tells us to commit to faithful men. If they are not faithful and kind then don’t commit to them, at least not yet. Most Pastors look for talent; however, I have found that talented people who are not kind and faithful will cause you an abundance of heartache. Sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true. First look for kindness and faithfulness, then discover their talents. Jesus always starts on the inside (character), man always wants to start on the outside (talents). You won’t go wrong with kind, faithful people leading your church.

Pastor Jim Graff – Victoria, TX
Early on a volunteer is chosen for competency. In our system, we have a leader leading every team of five volunteers. As the volunteer matures we expect their character and Christlikeness to grow. If that happens, they are considered for leadership if they are proficient in creating character and discipling Christian maturity in others.

Pastor James Hosack – Carlesbad, NM
Great traits and characteristics in volunteer workers and leaders in our church:

1. The ability to “take ownership” for their areas of responsibility. When people “take ownership”, it enables them to see more. When people take ownership of their company, they do additional things such as:

  • Check all doors to insure that they are locked.
  • Check sound system to insure that all equipment is turned off.
  • Check all rooms to insure that all lights are turned off.
  • When exiting the building – the last person out, pulls on the front door to insure that it cannot be opened, or going back from parking lot to double check before leaving if the slightest question exists “did I lock that? did I turn everything off? did I reset the thermostats?”

Taking ownership also reflects in the individual learning to “think through” regarding various aspects of their projects. They tend to ask themselves questions, such as, “If I take this action, what are the likely reactions that will occur?” “How can I address the other volunteers working in this department, so that I am clear to them, and at the same time respectful and show appreciation for them, and not run them off?”

Taking ownership is reflected in an individual saying, “If this church is going to grow, it is up to me to make the children’s ministry attract more families. It’s not up to you, Pastor, it’s up to me. My department is the reason that this church is going to grow. My area is going to outshine the other areas. Then the ushers can say, “I don’t agree! It’s our area – the Usher Department – that is going to make the greatest impact on the church growing. We are going to be on top of our game. We are going to make sure that we have plenty of people out front greeting the visitors and members. If we don’t have enough greeters for a particular service, we are going to make sure to cover the front with ushers. We are going to have ushers and greeters outside of the building, helping people open doors, set up baby strollers and welcoming everyone with a smile – we are going to make great “first impressions” on all of our visitors.

2. Faithfulness is always so very important. Faithfulness is so often taught from the aspect of consistent attendance, involvement, and hard work. I like to also stress what I refer to as the 3 Cs of Faithfulness:

A. Control Our Tongue
B. Control Our Attitude
C. Control Our Actions

When volunteer workers and leaders learn to control themselves in these three areas, and learn to develop in these three areas, they will be much more effective at positively influencing others around them to become loyal to the Lord, the Pastor, and the Local Church. Unity is so vital to building healthy teams. When individuals learn to watch their mouths, check their attitudes, and act in accordance with the Word, promoting unity, the team efforts will take the ministry further together than with divisions, strife, and behaviors that slow a church’s momentum.

“United We Stand, Divided We Fall”

I never “teach down” to our people. I often make statements such as, “I imagine that everyone here this morning has at some time, said something negative about someone else not present, or allowed negative and critical attitudes to slip in…I know that I have (in the past). We do not need to dwell in the past. I am not here to beat you up for your past faults or failures, but here to teach how to step up from here to where we need to go. It’s time to step up to a higher walk with God.” Just a few examples of things I might say. I like to encourage our congregation towards spiritual maturity rather than beat on them for what they might have done wrong. Basically, “come on guys, let’s do better than this. Let’s step on up today and leave the past behind. There is a better way to behave – let’s do it.”

3. Punctuality and realization that my being there and being all that I can possibly be is vital to the church’s success. When we first took this pre-existing church nearly three years ago, there was one person that would arrive before us Sunday mornings – the sound man. While we appreciated his dedication, we still had to turn most of the lights on, and really get the building ready for service. We continually prayed in, called in, and recruited volunteers for our ministry. At the time we had no paid staff and could not afford to pay any. We stressed excellence and being on time, and also prayed the right people in. In less than three years, we consistently see three to four individuals at our building, already working, already setting things up, making coffee, and greeting us as we arrive, and assisting us with whatever is needed at the moment. Before service begins, our children’s ministry, sound team, usher captain, and several others are in place, ready to go.

We occasionally remind leaders about punctuality; however, it is rarely necessary any more. Punctuality of volunteer leaders communicates to the Pastor: “Pastor, this is our church too. We care, we honor the Lord, we want to be set up, ready to go, and help prepare for a great service.

4. Teachability and Correctability. While volunteer and paid staff do not always like to be corrected or “re-directed” concerning their behaviors and attitudes, we always need to work at communicating our  respect and appreciation for them as individuals and for what they do here at our church. I always try to flip the situation I will be addressing with them, in my mind. I ask myself, what if I was the one being corrected or “re-directed”? How would I feel? How could I say this in a kind and respectful manner, which shows the utmost value for that individual? I want to win with them and want to see them grow and flourish here.

Follow-up is important as well, even if it is showing continuing appreciating for them and commending them when they do things right. Most people do not receive enough positive reinforcement. We have all probably corrected some individual volunteer or leader within our church, where things did not turn out well, where the individual did not accept our ‘counsel’ and did not end up staying. We probably felt that they missed God, they should not have left, and that it was such a shame that they were not correctable or teachable. Why don’t we turn this toward the positive with the ones that do listen and do accept and receive our ‘counsel’? Why don’t we really and strongly encourage them and celebrate their turn around, growth, and success following their efforts to change? People skills!

5. Sincerity. I think that we all value volunteer workers who are sincere, pure hearted, and ever ready to please the Lord. These are the people who are in love with Jesus and who usually do not have hidden agendas and just show up to serve to please God. How we wish everyone had a large dose of this perspective!

Pastor Terry Scheel – Fenton, MO
Love for God and love for people have to be at the top of the list. That love is an important motivating factor in every good volunteer. A volunteer that is a person of prayer is much needed. After that, being skilled and competent in the area they are volunteering is much appreciated. Volunteers that take the time to learn more about what they are doing are a real asset. After that, qualities I find very beneficial are loyalty, faithfulness, initiative, good communication and being on time. Problem solvers are a real treasure to have. Many people can find a problem or complain about a problem, but few people are mature enough or have enough initiative to solve problems. I’ll top off my list with cheerfulness – who doesn’t enjoy having cheerful volunteers?