This morning a friend posted an article on the University of Tennessee’s Head Football Coach Derek Dooley. As I read it the last two paragraphs made me think about how the fishbowl of college football coaches is very similar to Church staff.
I know that’s no excuse to keep a coach on staff, but at that moment, I realized something that I’d forgotten. I’d forgotten that every word I write, whether Dooley reads it or not, affects someone. It might be his wife, his family, his parents or his players. I realized that Dooley hasn’t broken any regulations. He hasn’t given the university a bad name or spoken unprofessionally about anyone involved in the program. He’s committed no crime.
Fans would do well to remember the positives as well as the negatives and post facts, not just opinions. Tennessee fans might want to reconsider their hate for a man who has pulled their team through adversity, who came (along with his family) when Lane Kiffin left and who won’t leave unless he’s pushed out.
Too often in ministry I have seen staff members judged by their last failed program, idea, Bible Study, event, and even sermon series. There are “seasons” in church staff lives that they go through tough times, yet do not share it with laity. There are “seasons” of down numbers and down programs. Instead of providing help for the staff, laity talk behind their back, leave the church, do not offer to step up and help. They treat them just like alumni and fans do to coaches. They see them as expendable and look for the next greatest thing instead of supporting them and joining them along side in ministry. They forget they have families they often hear the gossip and negativity. They forget about the small things they could do instead of complaining on Facebook, at Circles, at public events. They want more, but do not help. I’ve seen many great church staff leave ministry because of this. They get criticized, work their tail off, are not fed because of teaching multiple things, they aren’t asked how they are doing spiritually by laity, and are thrown out beaten up from working in the church. I’ve seen others that go from church to church, moving their families over and over and every church they go to ends in the same hot seat due to churches not taking care of their staff.
The latest losing streak for a coach that is labeled on the hot seat is no different than a ministry staff member who has a tough time finding volunteers to help, or gives a bad sermon series. They are human and sometimes need time to build their team and make changes. Laity see the present instead of the groundwork that has been laid for the future of the programs.