Staff member insubordination

by Nathaniel Johansen

I'm the lead pastor at a small church of 60-70 people. It is a thriving, growing fellowship of believers. I'm joyful in basically all facets of this ministry, except for one: my Associate Pastor refuses to prove himself faithful with small things. There are multiple examples in our 1.5 years working together (way too many to list off the top of my head) wherein he says he will follow through and simply doesn't. Simple things, such as: asking him to end his bible study at 10:15 on Sunday mornings so that we are ensured to begin worship on time and that our core group will be out of bible study and in the worship center to greet visitors and fellowship prior to a prompt 10:30 start time. I've asked this 4-5 times and he never follows through.

I've asked him to consult me before making purchases on the church debit card (which is just an expense account money is moved over into) so that we make sure not to overdraft this little expense account. He spends money like it's going out of style, with no regard for what I've asked him to do. He has, therefore, overdrafted this little expense account on 3 different occasions only to say, "Sorry about that."

I've asked him to pay close attention during worship (He is the worship pastor as well) to make sure that follows the order I've got listed. All it takes is following along with the bulletin and following my lead for certain parts. He operates in whatever fashion he chooses when it comes to worship order, often times completely ignoring things that I had included for our worship gathering that day.

These types of issues come up once or twice every month. I'm at my breaking point with this guy. And my Leadership Management Team has been little help in supporting me in properly disciplining and/or asking this guy to find a new position somewhere else where he fits better. I've had multiple meetings with him as well as with others along with myself and he always guarantees that the results will be better and literally nothing changes. His word means nothing at this point.

Any suggestions? I'm keeping my eyes fixed on Christ but leading someone that simply refuses to follow is simply not sustainable for me. I appreciate all input!

Comments for Staff member insubordination

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Insubordination Must Not Be Allowed
by: SecureBeliever

Greetings Pastor,

As a support pastor for many years I must say that I have seen this issue raise its ugly head many a time. When people do not respect their pastor enough and choose the way of insubordination, then as the leader of the church you have to step in and correct the situation.

It seems you have already performed the first step by addressing his behavioral issue of insubordination and outlining to him what needs to be done to correct the issue (i.e., finish on time, don't overuse the card, support the ministry, etc.) This is to be commended as you are taking steps to help him improve as a believer in Christ.

The next step for you is to schedule a meeting with you, the head of the board, and the young man. Before the meeting you need to explain everything going on to the board member and how it is blatantly against scripture for this behavior to exist. When you sit with the young man you will need to provide, in writing, a letter of discipline outlining the behavior that is in error, the corrective actions taken this far, and what future corrective actions must be made within the next 30 days in order for the young man to remain employed. Do not sit down and have a discussion at this point. This is a one way informational disciplinary meeting. Don't let him sit and make excuses or try to explain things away. He has already done that. This is your time to teach and mold him as his leader. At the end of the meeting ask the young man to get up and go home for the rest of the day to contemplate his future in your ministry and the actions that are now required of him to remain.

Watch him for the next 30 days and document any issues. At the end of 30 days call the young man in and go over his performance (with you and the head of the board) and discuss if his behavior has improved satisfactorily. If it has not but he is making forward progress, provide him with encouragement and grant an additional 30 days to finish the personal life changes needed in this matter.

At the end of the second 30 days if the man has not met the goals in his disciplinary letter, then, with the head of the board as witness, provide the young man with a letter of dismissal and a severance package. Let him know that he will need to move on to find a church more in line with his wants and desires. Again, this is not a time for discussion. Wish him well and help him clear out his desk.

To some reading this it may seem a harsh answer to your predicament. But insubordination is a cancer that if not treated could spread to other staff and the congregation. The Lord said that we are to do everything decently and in order within the church. Insubordination only breeds a takeover attitude. The Lord has brought you to the church as the leader and it is your responsibility to protect, feed, and discipline the flock.

I pray the Lord grants you wisdom to handle the situation with grace and mercy. Be stern and be the leader of your church and protect your flock. This situation is not about the young man, it is about the congregation (your flock). Lead them well by keeping the wolves at bay. God bless you and teach you in this situation.

In his Service,
SecureBeliever in Christ

Some more thoughts
by: Anonymous

I think you've been given some excellent advice in the past few comments.Just from another point of view: I would wonder what the root of his actions are ie Does he have a need to control? What is happening in his life that would cause him to respond the way he does?

I would meet with him again instead of approaching it from a disciplinary point how about asking him how he is going? What can you do to work together? and so on

I would also really pray for him. It's likely he is feeling pushed out or could be reacting out of hurt. I would also add that no one should be following a minister but Christ however he should be willing to fit in with the churches vision and be accountable to the board and minister.

If you find that there is no change in behavior and he continues to spend money and make decisions without the boards endorsement then I would consider removing the privilege from him for a period of time to give him time to reflect.

Really pray about this and ask the Lord's wisdom on how to deal with him. Its not an easy situation for sure but far better that you give him every opportunity to what is right and then act if need be. Best of luck, I hope that all goes well and the situation resolves itself

steady and calm
by: pastor m

I have to disagree with the previous comment. If theres one thing pastors dont need when dealing with insubordination its self accusation. Stick with it. Having a gentle gifting is not a sin, insubordination is.
As the pastor of a church of 150 i know how a staff member can wind their roots around the congregation. Reckless and rash discipline can be just exactly how the devil can get us working for him to destroy the church. Trust God. Its his church. Lead your board and committees with the authority of scripture not feelings and personal ideas. If the word doesnt sway them You deserve a different church.

Pastor Vince Gaddis
by: Anonymous

Fire him ASAP.

Don't Give up
by: kings

Hi Nathaniel,

Sorry to hear about your predicament.

Ministry work is a bit challenging. In a secular world, you can write a warning letter. 3 strikes and he's out. However, it is difficult to advise because the various options would depend on a lot of variables ( Your church constitution, whether he's in paid work or unpaid work, the structure of your church-Charismatic, pentecostal, baptist, presbyterian? Is there a disciplinary procedure of the Church?)

My Church is charismatic.I once had an assitant minster who came late to Church, consistently overshot his teaching time slot and even criticized pastors on the pulpit (even though he is not a pastor, and I had made it clear that we do not criticize other pastors/churches). When he refused to change, the Lord said he should be sidelined. Consequently, I allowed other people to be involved in the teachings/prayers. Unable to cope, he left and Church growth shot up remarkably.

Your course of action would ultimately be based on what the Holy Spirit ministers to you. You are the local leader that God has placed in the Church. Most of the times as pastors, we are afraid of the Church member leaving. This reinforces their insubordinate behavior. Rebellion is as witchcraft, the Bible says. Various courses of actions you can take as led by the Spirit include:

1) calling him aside to talk to him, bringing the matter up before the elders
2) Give him a warning letter asking him to reply within 1 week why disciplinary action (such as suspension)should not be taken against him. Most likely if he is rebellious, he'll reply with a rude letter which can be forwarded to your board for disciplinary action.
3) Limit his use of the bank card by asking the bank to block the second card and give other people the opportunity to perform his duties.

You need to take action as led by the Spirit or else the situation may only get worse. I pray for divine peace in your heart. Every witchcraft and rebellious gang up against your life and ministry, I pray be disbanded in Jesus name. Receive Divine insight and direction in Jesus name.

Time to give in
by: Christy Thomas

I will just say this straight out: your associate has made it clear he(she?) has no respect for you and your unwillingness to deal with that disrespect straightforwardly simply reinforces what he/she has already decided to be true: you are not worthy of respect.

He/she is not going to change until you deal with the reasons you won't take this on straightforwardly and stop doing what has obviously not worked before.

Frankly, you probably need to move on. I suspect you have strong pastoral care gifts, and need to find a place where those gifts can be used well and also be appreciated. But you do not evidence strong leadership gifts at this point, and those need to be developed, probably with the help of a good coach and possibly a good therapist to help you sort this out on a deep level.

This is a tough learning situation, but if you can receive it that way, you can experience powerful results from this.

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