Creating an Environment for Retaining Staff Members

Biblical principles for staff retention.


by Happy Caldwell

There are many management models and strategies available for us to follow. Having been trained in the business sector before I became a pastor, I simply and easily applied business principles to the ministry from the beginning. However, over the years, I began to modify and improve those principles by discovering the biblical principles after which many business models are shaped.


Jesus is always our model…He said, “I must be about My Father’s business.” (Luke 2:49) The Apostle Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ”. (I Corinthians 11:1)

Both Jesus and Paul give us a model to follow as we develop a staff. However, it’s worth noticing that neither Jesus nor Paul maintained a perfect staff. They both had deserters and were betrayed by associates. Many of us have experienced similar situations. On the other hand, the majority of their staff were faithful, so let’s look at what the Scriptures have to say about creating an environment for retaining people on your staff.


First, we notice that the twelve were called. “And He “called” the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits.” (Mark 6:7) It is important that people on your staff are “called” to work with you. And, I emphasize “to work with you,” to fulfill the vision God has give you; not use your ministry as a stepping stone to “their” ministry. However, although they may be called, that is still no guarantee they will necessarily stay. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 20:16)

Choose those that work with you carefully. Today, you should not only do back-ground checks, but pray in the spirit before you hire them. If you receive a check in you spirit, don’t hire them, even if they look like the best thing since sliced bread.


Training not only includes teaching, but demonstration. Jesus and Paul both demonstrated to their staff the five W’s: who, what, where, when, why, and how. Their associates saw them act out before them the reasons why they did what they did.

The key in training is not to get people to do what you want, but to reveal the heart of God that’s in you and to create an environment in which people do what’s right; do it because it’s right, and do it right. Doing it right becomes more important than not doing it.

Your ministry is not only a very important part of Jesus’ ministry, but is a reflection of who you are. If your thinking is sloppy, your staff will be sloppy. If you are disorganized, your staff will be disorganized. If you are greedy, your staff will be greedy. If you don’t care about people, neither will your staff. So, if your ministry is to change, as it must to thrive, you must change first.


A few years ago, I was invited to attend a strategic leadership seminar for CEO’s at the U.S. Army War College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Our first day was spent on the battlefield studying the strategy of both the Union and Confederate armies at the battle of Gettysburg. At the end of the day we had what the Army calls an AAR (After Action Review), to determine the success or failure of strategy. (Strategy, by the way, is not necessarily your plan of action, but what you hope to accomplish in the process.)

The South’s strategy at Gettysburg was to succeed and go on to capture Washington, thereby, sending a message to the North. The South knew they could not out man the North, so their strategy was to make the North “think” they could not win and, therefore, cause them to surrender. However, they failed due to leadership and intelligence blunders. The rest of the leadership seminar was spent in the U.S. Army War Room where strategy and management systems were taught.

Even with the right people and the right training you must create a “system” through which you produce the results you desire. Your management system becomes the solution to problems that beset you due to the unpredictability of people. The most recognizable and proficient systems in corporate America are McDonalds, Wal-Mart, etc.

We have spent years developing systems (policy manuals, job descriptions, mission statements, etc.). This allows every staff member to easily transition into the purpose, goal and action of the ministry. A system is a way of doing things.


People have to know they are loved, valued, esteemed, appreciated…and they must be rewarded. People will stay where they are celebrated.

Creating this type of atmosphere takes planning and hard work. It doesn’t just happen. You must make creating a good working environment a priority.

Many of our ministry staff and management staff have been with us a long time; some for 30 years. Needless to say, they have been a blessing. They pretty much run the ministry whether I am there or not. I trust them and I trust their judgment.

My management style is as follows: first, I try to hire the right people; second, I impart the Vision God has given us; and third, they are taught and trained according to our management system. We provide oversight for a few months, and then I let them use their own judgment, creative abilities, ideas, etc. I don’t micro-manage and I am not constantly looking over their shoulders. If they make mistakes, we evaluate and make corrections, but always to improve them as people. We are a builder of people.

We also provide a safe and secure work environment; daily prayer; reading the Bible and Christian books; employee of the month, quarterly, and year, (with bonuses). We also provide personal days, time off (in addition to vacation time), a pension plan, medical coverage, etc. After 10 years employees are given additional vacation time. We have staff lunches from time to time and a staff Christmas banquet. We love each other and depend on each other to fulfill God’s calling on our lives.


The work we do is a reflection of who we are. If we’re sloppy at what we do, it’s because we’re sloppy inside. If we’re late, it’s because we’re late inside. If we’re bored, it’s because we’re bored inside.

George Barna identifies seven dominant spheres of influence in today’s pop-culture: television, movies, internet, music, books, law and family. The second tiers of influence are schools, peers, newspapers, radio, and business.

The church must not lose its ability to influence society. Where we used to be a dominate influence on society, we are now not even in the top seven (according to George Barna.) The “pop-culture church” has simply mirrored the pop-culture society, but not the church of the New Testament. Therefore, we must “be about the Father’s business” and refuse to compromise God’s Word, our integrity, our honor, and our spirit of excellence.”

If we want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” we must take our assignments seriously. We must create and train Godly leaders. They in turn, will reproduce themselves. “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:21) To accomplish this, we must create an environment (a breeding ground) to teach, train, and retain those leaders. We must help them to become better by learning, understanding, and practicing what they have learned. “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (II Timothy 2:2)

By creating an environment for learning, understanding, and practicing, we will retain the best leaders. Leaders are made, not born. Godly leaders like Joshua trained, learned, and practiced under Moses for forty years. He was one of the great leaders in the Bible. Moses provided an atmosphere for Joshua to learn.

Moses delegated responsibility to Joshua. Joshua was fulfilled in the performing of his assignment. Joshua was in no hurry for Moses to get out of the way so he could do his thing.

Even after Moses died, God told Joshua that He (God would be with him…“as He was with Moses”.Joshua was his own man and was ready and willing to take the Israelites into the promise land (that was the strategy) to inherit their God given promises.

Moses had created an environment where Joshua could be developed as a leader. Therefore, let us create an atmosphere for training people and let us run with patience the race that is set before us so we can all hear “Well done.”

In 1979, God spoke to Happy Caldwell to build a spiritual production center in Little Rock, in order to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the city, state, nation and world. Happy and his wife Jeanne founded Agape Church, a strong spirit-filled body of believers. Through his deep sensitivity to the Spirit of God, and his anointed teaching – the lost are being saved, the sick healed, and thousands are being blessed.

In 1988 Happy and Jeanne answered a direct call from the Lord to take His message beyond Central Arkansas. They founded VTN – the Victory Television Network. This network of 3 full power TV stations is carried on over 200 cable systems and is bringing the Gospel into more than 1.2 million households. Through his own daily program, Arkansas Alive, Happy presents the Word in profound simplicity, making the character of God a revelation to those who hear.

Also desiring to see spiritual excellence in education, the ministry of Agape has grown to include an Agape Academy and Agape College which offers both diploma and degree programs.

Happy’s ministry is known for instilling Christian principles in strategic leadership. He was honored for this in 2005 with an invitation to participate in the US Army War College Strategic Leader Staff Ride at Gettysburg, PA.

Happy Caldwell is a recipient of the Peter J. Daniels Caleb Encourager Award, which has been bestowed upon such notable names as Norman Vincent Peale, Nelson Mandela and Dr. Oral Roberts. He has been recognized by the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission with The Salute to Greatness Commu-nity Service Award. He also serves on the Executive Board for Christians United for Israel, and is the Regional and State director for CUFI.