Thursday, November 14, 2013

Church staffing suggestions #1 - The ENFP pastor

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how 2IC appointments often go wrong.

I plan to do a few follow up posts with some suggestions for maybe how to avoid some of these problems.

Today I'll look briefly at the ENFP pastor and make some suggestions for him*.

Charismatic ministry leaders are often Myers Briggs personality type ENFP. ENFPs are awesome people: imaginative, idealistic, interesting, inspiring, quick thinking, friendly. People like them and they like people. It is little wonder that they are often in the lead pastor role. Surely they are made for it!

Yeah, they are.

A good ENFP has heaps to offer a church (as do other personality types) but here are a few ways that things can go bad for them when they look to employing someone and a few suggestions.

Problem #1: ENFPs so recognise the contribution that their own friendliness, imagination and quickness makes to their ministry success that their natural inclination is to look for another ENFP to work with them as 2IC. This is a Bad Idea. Many reasons:

a.) ENFPs want their own imaginative ideas to get up. They are dreamers of dreams and in a small-medium church (say, up to 200 people) they get in each other's way.

b.) The ENFP senior invariably employs someone in the hope that that someone will be the one who does the follow through on his ideas. But ENFPs don't really specialise in follow through. They see carrying out the details of a plan as trivial drudgery. The 2IC will feel abused if asked to spend his time executing someone else's dreams while not being able to pursue his own. The senior will feel frustrated if the 2IC doesn't do that which he was employed to do!

c.) 2IC ENFPs tend to be a bit ADD with employment. They find it hard to settle because they feel that there is some job out there that they could be more authentically themselves in.

d.) ENFPs are naturally pretty charming and use their charm to get people to do what they want them to do. Being able to sweet talk is mostly a useful thing, but sometimes it can be manipulative. ENFPs are pretty quick to think of it as manipulative when they see others doing it. And it doesn't work nearly so well on other ENFPs as it does on everyone else.

Solution #1 : Don't employ an ENFP as your 2IC.

Problem #2: ENFPs are relationally idealistic. They want the perfect working relationship and will be disappointed in others easily.

Solution #2 : a.) Get your expectations sorted and keep reminding yourself that a relationship doesn't have to be perfect to be good and functional.
b.) Before the appointment begins, write a detailed job description for yourself and for the 2IC. Make everything as clear as possible. Have others look at it as well. Ask the 2IC what he thinks. Is this possible time-wise? Would it be fulfilling for him? Does it play to his strengths? Review it after 3 months.

Problem #3: ENFPs are puppy dogs for praise. They want to be accepted. They want to be loved. They want to be told they are doing a good job. This can make being a boss hard.

Solution #3:
a.) Get over it. God is the one you are working for. Look forward to the 'Well done good and faithful servant' from Him.
b.) Don't expect your staff team to be your fan club. This isn't a healthy. Church will be better off if there is respectful disagreement from time to time between staff.
c.) Learn to say what needs to be said in criticism of your 2IC well and trust that, although awkward, your relationship can take it.

Now of course, all ENFPs won't have these problems but I think the personality type lends itself to these sorts of issues. And they certainly aren't insurmountable at all. I think probably being aware of them is a large part of it. Thoughts?

*As with the last post, I'm talking about guys working with guys here - hence all the masculine pronouns.


  1. Great article! I'm an ENFP pastor and I love practical advice from someone not like me. This was great. Whether we know it or not, ENFP's also play favorites.

    I'm year 5 of a church plant and I'm dying for something new. LORD help church plants with ENFPs as pastor!!!

    1. Hi Tim. Glad you found it helpful. You might also be interested in this post:

  2. About to read your reccomended post to Pastor Tim, there...just wanted to say "thanks" for putting your thoughts out there. I think the 'puppy dog' analogy is spot-on, and an ENFP is victim to the "all is well when everyone is happy."