“Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.” (Isaiah 55:4)
Of course, the priest dare not delegate liturgical leadership, managing the relationship with the bishop, or working with the parish council. Yet there are other leadership and managerial tasks that the priest dare not delegate as well. The 10 items below are related more to the managerial aspect of priestly service.
Vision is the essence of leadership, so if a priest attempts to hand off the creation of a vision to someone else (a consultant, the second priest, the parish council, the chairperson of the parish council), they may as well be delegating away their leadership. It’s often a good idea to get others involved in creating and fulfilling the vision for a parish but the ultimate responsibility is the rector’s. It’s the most important task he must fulfill. His parish needs this from him.
2. Hiring decisions
Hiring talent is one of the most important things a priest can do to ensure a smooth-running parish committed to providing the best possible service. Of course, the parish council may be involved in the process but the priest must be engaged and have the final decision.
3. Orienting a new employee
Irrespective of the level of a new employee the priest needs to take a hands-on role in helping a new employee feel welcomed. They should take an active role in the orienting and training plan, and clear their schedules as much as possible in order to make time for the new employee.
The priest must accept responsibility for managing the office. This cannot be delegated to a parish council member, though help is often needed. If an employee must be corrected or spoken with regarding their behavior or performance, this is the responsibility of the priest. In very large parishes, it may be the parish administrator.
5. Praise and recognition
Yet another important task is acknowledging good performance and important accomplishments. Many employees and volunteers regard their work as service to the Lord. A kind word or expression of appreciation can go far in helping them to feel that their work is meaningful.
It’s up to the priest to create a motivating environment. He does this by modeling servant leadership, just as was done by our Lord Jesus Christ.
7. Leading transformational change
The priest is the primary change agent within the office and within the community. He needs to be directly involved – no, not just involved, but leading the effort when it comes to large scale, transformational changes. It’s the priest’s role to establish the vision for the change. There are just too many things that can go wrong to leave transformational changes in the hands of committees.
Again, as with many of the other important tasks on this list, involvement of others is a good thing. It’s very difficult for a management team to objectively reorganize themselves – oftentimes the priest needs to make the tough calls that no one else wants to make.
A priest’s ongoing personal development can’t be delegated to anyone else. The priest needs to “own” his own development, though he may be assisted by the bishop, other priests, consultants, executive coaches, etc.
10. Performance appraisals
This is a difficult but important task of the priest. Of course, the chief objective of all performance appraisals is not fault-finding but performance enhancement.