We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. (Romans 12:4-6)
A few years back, Northway Church entered into a sizable building expansion project. We desperately needed more space for our student ministry, a larger foyer / common space area, parking spaces, and a redesign of our landscape. In the process of planning this project, we also decided to add a coffee shop for use of church attenders on Sunday and the community throughout the week.
I’d been through one previous building expansion before this one, and we used a design-build firm for that project. This time, however, the decision was made to go a more traditional route of using an architect to design the blueprints, then hire a contractor to construct the building. We hired Lyman, Davidson, and Dooley out of Atlanta (lddi-architects.com) to design the project and Sheridan Construction (sheridanconstruction.com) from Macon, Georgia, to build it. Once construction commenced, we had monthly OAC (Owner, Architect, Contractor) meetings to receive updates on the project and ensure all parties involved were informed of any changes and working together toward the common goal.
As I sat through those meetings, it was clear that there were three different entities involved in making this building become a reality, that each had a specific role, and that all were necessary for the success of the project.
Northway Church (Owner): Our job was to evaluate our current and future ministry needs, to explain how we needed the building to function, and to describe with broad strokes the end product. We were, essentially, the vision casters for the project.
Lyman, Davidson, & Dooley (Architect): Their job was to take our vision and create a plan for how it could practically become a reality. They took our pie-in-the-sky dreams and hopes and told us how to tweak or modify them to fit into our budget. They took our scribbles on napkins, our hundreds of Pinterest photos, and our rough sketches to form a strategic plan that followed building codes and could actually be used by a contractor to construct the building.
Sheridan Construction (Builder): Their job was to make it happen. They took the plans and made our dreams become reality. From the initial site work to the last coat of paint, they took the project from paper to a physical building.
As I’ve reflected on the partnership it took in that venture, I’ve thought about how much this same structure applies to virtually any successful business or organization. A healthy staff will consist of the following types of individuals:
1 — Dreamers: Like the “owners” in our construction project, these are the individuals who seem to instinctively know where the company or organization needs to go. They possess the vision for tomorrow. They wake up in the morning dreaming about what is “next.”
• Love the big picture, but are bored with the details of a project.
• Have numerous new ideas a day. Most aren’t worth pursuing, but about 1 in 10 actually have some merit.
• See the end goal and get really frustrated when the business or organization isn’t moving toward this goal.
• Sometimes can have such tunnel vision that they are willing to run over people to reach the goal.
In the church world, the dreamer is most often the senior or lead pastor. Healthy churches need this person to pray about / determine where God is leading the church, and then to cast this vision to others.
2 – Designers: Like the “architects” in our construction project, these are the individuals who hear the vision and are immediately able to see the five or six steps it will take to get from point A to point B.
• Are strategic thinkers.
• Love a master plan and systems.
• Are good decision makers and able to say “no” to what is good in favor of what is best.
• Can become extremely frustrated when the big picture isn’t clear or suddenly changes.
In the church world, the designer is typically an executive pastor. This is the individual who loves to coach others in how to best reach the vision set by the pastor and the church. In a healthy church environment, the executive pastor clearly understands the vision of the senior pastor and the senior pastor completely trusts the executive pastor in how he chooses to get it accomplished.
3 – Doers: Like the “contractors” in our building project, these are the individuals who are able to physically put the puzzle pieces into place so the the vision becomes reality.
• Are detailed oriented.
• Love to-do lists and checking off items as “done.”
• Like to have their voice heard, but generally do not want overall responsibility for the project.
• Will point out flaws in the system, but hate making the hard decisions on changes that need to be made.
In the church world, there are a number of positions where doers will thrive. Sometimes these are ministerial roles, and other times these are assistants. These individuals are typically on the frontlines of ministry, getting tools into the hands of volunteers, or making sure everything is ready for an event.
In my observation, while most employees have one primary gifting, they can operate outside of that role. Again, in the church world, visionary church planters typically start a church and spend a lot of time as doers. Every Sunday they set up chairs and sound systems and during the week they print bulletins and buy crayons for the classrooms. However, if their primary gifting is in vision casting, they will eventually pass off those duties to others so they can be focused on the bigger picture.
Or consider a student pastor at a smaller church where the senior pastor resigns. That student pastor’s primary gifting may be as a designer, but for a period of time this individual is having to cast vision for the church. I’ve seen those who are primarily doers fill a void in leadership to become designers of systems. While we all have our “sweet spot,” we can move into the other areas to a certain degree and for a period of time.
However, we won’t thrive in those other places. And our company, church, or organization will ultimately not operate at its best. Therefore, it is wise to ask any potential employee which role they see themselves fitting into best. A doer who gets hired as a senior pastor or CEO will only be able to take the church or company so far. An administrative assistant who is primarily a dreamer will quickly become frustrated in that role. A designer who never has any say in putting together systems or programs will quickly leave for a more fulfilling job.
As you are interviewing employees, ask them about their sweet spot, and make sure the person actually fits the role. This will greatly benefit your church, organization, or company.
Kevin Mills is the Lead Pastor at Northway Church in Macon, Georgia.