One guy was a rock star in ministry situations. He seemed to flourish and succeed in every position he was in. Then he was commissioned by his denomination to go plant a church, and it absolutely bombed. Everyone was stunned. They were so surprised that they actually called me in after the fact to do a post-mortem on the situation to see why it hadn’t worked.
I noticed that the planter hadn’t had a behavioral interview beforehand, so I decided that would be a good place to start. A behavioral interview consists of asking the candidate questions about their past behaviors and drilling down to details and specifics. As I talked with this man about his previous successes, a theme became apparent: All of his successes and strengths were in environments where there were a lot of pre-existing resources available. He’s been successful in large churches where there were support staff available. He’d been successful in school settings where there were established procedures in place. He’d excelled in many different ministry settings, but they all had one thing in common: a lot of pre-existing resources.
Not so with church planting. Church planting is generally a from-scratch, create-it-as-you-go kind of endeavor. Now this isn’t a bad thing—it doesn’t say anything negative about the planter. He could be used greatly for the kingdom in a number of significant ways. He just wasn’t a planter.
It’s amazing how many of our successes are attributable to others—and that includes planters. There are some planters I won’t coach unless their spouse is in on the phone calls. That happens when the planter is the catalyzer and the spouse is the organizer. That spouse needs to hear the conversation and then make sure the necessary follow-up happens. Coaching the catalyzer alone without the organizer, in many cases, will simply not work.
Here’s a question to ponder: In your successes and achievements, who have been the key people who have helped you? What was their contribution? What does that tell you about your own strengths?