12 Characteristics of Effective Team Members

I love the way God puts His church together. In an amazing way, He gives us brothers and sisters who serve alongside us, model obedience, pray for us, and challenge us to lead them faithfully. God allows us to be a team that is corporately much stronger than any of us is individually.

In more than three decades of ministry, I’ve been privileged to serve with some of God’s finest people. Some have been lay leaders, and others have been clergy; all who come to mind have been servants of Christ. When I think of them, I am reminded of the traits that most characterized them.

It is these characteristics that I would want in any leadership team. Meet my friends here, and think about the traits you want in your leadership team.

  1. Humility.  Rich is a Bible study teacher who annually led his group to grow and then plant new groups. He is a great teacher who is himself teachable. He has no personal “turf” to protect, as he knows the work of the kingdom is not about him.
  2. Word-saturated. Matt is quiet – an introvert who thinks deeply. Ask him about the Word, though, and he lights up. He has for years memorized the Word, and his life models what is in his heart. I still use Matt’s method for my own memorization.
  3. Brokenness. He was a tough, rugged man prior to his conversion, but Glenn changed completely when the Lord grabbed his heart. Brokenness over his sin brought him to nothing . . . where he learned that God would use him in his weakness.
  4. Prayerfulness. I anticipated a great meal with this couple. After all, Ruby was a country cook, and Jim a truck driver who surely enjoyed a strong breakfast. What they gave me, though, was a quick bowl of cereal – and an hour of prayer. For months, we followed this pattern each week.
  5. Dependability.  John was just a quiet man who offered to do whatever our congregation needed. Indeed, few people knew how much he did behind the scenes. As his pastor, I knew I could depend on him to do anything we asked (and do it well).
  6. Holiness. I wish you could meet David and Laura. They’re one of the godliest young couples I’ve ever met. They simply model obedience in word and deed. As their leader, I knew God would bless their efforts because they so trust Him.
  7. Risk-taking. Sometimes God gives us someone who thinks outside the lines while staying within biblical parameters. Brian was such a team member for me. He stretched my thinking, but that’s exactly what I needed.
  8. Integrity. Leaders often learn the hard way that not everyone can be trusted. But, God sends us team members who show us that godly integrity still exists. Randy did that for me. He speaks the truth, but he does so in love. I’ve never questioned the veracity of his words, nor have I doubted his heart.
  9. Teachability. Sonney and Christie were loyal members of the first church I led. They freely admitted their need to learn more, to continue to grow in their knowledge and faithfulness. They made pastoring enjoyable when their eyes lit up with increased gospel understanding.
  10. Knowledgeable. None of these traits precludes our responsibility to know and understand in our faith journey. I think of Tim, who is a brilliant theologian, an experienced practitioner, and an effective leader. He can defend his faith with the most capable critic, but he can also share the gospel with the smallest child.
  11. Fun. Ministry is hard and serious, but we should experience the joy of God in our work. My colleague, Jamie, and I laugh often – sometimes “just because,” it seems. I also think of Tina, a team member who carried out her heavy responsibilities with a unique sense of enjoyment and fun.
  12. Reproducibility. The best team members I’ve worked with are those who raise up leaders to follow them. Shirley has always been an excellent teacher, but she has focused on training others who can then train more. She understands that her work continues only if she is willing to think beyond herself.

Look again at these traits: humility, Word-saturated, brokenness, prayerfulness, dependability, holiness, risk-taking, integrity, teachability, knowledgeable, fun, reproducibility. God graciously gives us people who model these traits. These brothers and sisters challenge us to be strong leaders – leaders who walk with God in gratitude and dependence even as we grow in our own leadership capacity.

Are there other traits you would want in your leadership team? Any traits you would remove from this list?


  • Allen Calkins says:

    One pastor of a large church in the Tulsa, OK area told me he really does not look at resumes for the specific skills they need for a ministry position as much as the character qualities you listed. His thoughts were if they have the basic skill set needed they can send them to worships and classes to improve their skills. BUT THERE IS NOT CLASS that will take care of a glaring Christian character flaw….FOR YEARS most of his staff new hires have come from within his congregation; many who are individuals who have been won to Christ and discipled in his church.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Thanks, Allen. As you note, character matters.

      • jonathon says:

        In the secular world, there is a tiny, but distinct group in HR that ignores resumes, looking only at character qualities. This strategy is a legal minefield, because it implies that pre-existing job skills are irrelevant to doing the job. The virtue in this approach is that both percentagewise, and numerically, far fewer people are fired, forced to resign, or otherwise terminated by the company, than is normal for their size, or industry.

  • Gregory Lawhorn says:

    I just wish there was a way to get ALL of these traits in the same people!

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      True. That’s the fun of growing as a leader, though — always striving to improve.

    • Mark says:

      You don’t want all those traits in the same person. If you do, no one else can compete with that person. It is like the desire for the perfect new hire, just give me someone good and willing to learn and knowledgeable enough to contribute some on day 1.

      Moses wasn’t perfect and look what he accomplished.

      • Chuck Lawless says:

        Would you eliminate any of these qualities, Mark? Most folks aren’t characterized by all of these at the same time, but should we be striving for all of them?

      • Melody says:

        You are right that Moses wasn’t perfect but the accomplishments were not his either. They were God’s. I’m not sure how that truth fits into the discussion but I have become very aware of how little we give Him the credit or acknowledgment of discipline. He uses flawed imperfect people but they have something in common. They love God and know their place in respect to Him.

  • Mark says:

    I would add: not being a “yes-person”. This used to be known as a “yes-man.” I would not want someone who will always agree with me. If my whole team always agrees with me, then I might as well not have them. I want someone to tell me that something is not going to work the work the way I think It will. I want someone to tell me his/her opinion, not wondering if I will like it or berate them for it.

  • Humility and Dependability seem cover the fact that we need team members who are willing to see beyond their own title and do whatever it takes. Those of us who Pastor smaller churches especially need team members who are willing to lead an outreach to our community and still be be willing to clean a bathroom.

  • Isaac gray says:

    What was/is Matt’s method of scripture

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Isaac, enough folks have asked this question that I’ll likely write a blog about it in the next few weeks. Thanks for asking.

  • Anna says:

    I love all of these. It is really helping me with my science homework in 8th grade on the first day of school.

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