How to Let Staff Go in a God-Honoring Way

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Relationships come to an end for numerous reasons. People move, change occupations or seek further education and training. Friends believe the Lord is taking their lives in different directions. Sometimes an employee is not a good fit for the workplace or vice versa, and you terminate him or her.

Let's face it: We live in an instant-gratification generation in the workforce. People are apt to jump from one job to the next if they see any marginal increase in salary or benefits. And human nature being what it is, there are times when relationships just end. Whether with people who attend your church, staff members, vendors, volunteer workers or other ministry-related associations, events happen and endings come.

Yet here's the deal: You can tell everything about a person by the way they leave a job. And you tell everything about an organization by the way they treat people when they go.

3 Principles From Matthew's Gospel

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Let's start with the premise that the majority of people you associate with are Christians. That being the case, we have a biblical model to follow in bringing relationships to an end. Matthew 18 works if people have an interest in demonstrating Christ-like attitudes and actions. Three principles stand out from verses 15-18: absolute confidentiality, complete honesty and the opportunity for forgiveness and restoration.

When it comes to confidentiality, we are all tested. And the confidentiality test is one God wants us to pass with an A-plus. As leaders, we have no room for failure when it comes to privacy. We dishonor the Lord and put ourselves at legal risk should we not pass the test.

Complete honesty. Wow! That's a concept that, if put into practice, will transform your workplace. And there is no more potent place for honesty than when a person leaves, voluntarily or involuntarily. One caveat: There must be much compassion and kindness on the part of leadership. Through honesty, no matter how insignificant or painful, Christ can transform leaving into a marvelous, fruitful time for you and for the person making an exit.

The Lord is honored in ending relationships when we tie up all the loose ends and bring to closure any responsibilities, projects, ownership of items or intellectual property. Failing to bring issues to closure leads to misunderstandings, spiritual separation and grievances. In almost every situation, these misunderstandings can be bypassed by slowing down the ending and making entirely sure both parties believe clarity and simple agreement have been reached in all areas.

In ending relationships, Christians should make it a priority to bless one another and affirm that the Lord wants us to walk in forgiveness toward one another. Bring all the issues to a proper end, as much as possible, and end the parting with prayer. Ending relationships can be the most challenging period of work relations. We must call on the Lord's grace, mercy and forgiveness.

Work Relationships in a Watching World

The healing of a working relationship that does not end with blessings may take months or years to recover from. Just as importantly, during the time that follows, we must strive not to involve others who are not part of the problem or solution to the issue. That is called gossip.

The world is always watching to see how Christians end relationships. Do we bless or curse? Are we any different from the world? When the world witnesses Christians fight, gossip and end relationships with bitterness and unforgiveness, it confirms their disbelief. It appears that Christianity is not real.

What if our goal as a leader in ending a relationship was to minister kindness and gentleness? If nothing else were achieved, God's kingdom on earth would be glorified.

Tim Cameron spent 10 years working at Oral Roberts University as director of admissions and financial aid. He also has a long tenure in public education and has served as headmaster at the largest private school in Oklahoma. He is the author of two Charisma House books, including 40 Days Through the Prayers of Jesus. Follow his ministry at timcameronprayer.com.

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