A toxic ministry team environment can have a detrimental impact on employees’ well-being and productivity. Here are three signs to watch out for:
1. Frequent Conflict
Conflict is part of every workplace, but frequent and intense conflicts among coworkers or between employees and management can be a sign of a toxic workplace. In ministries, this will often manifest itself in less overt ways, through passive-aggressive behavior, or even bullying. When employees are constantly at odds with each other, it creates a stressful and even hostile atmosphere that is a poor witness for Christ-followers.
2. Lack of Transparency and Trust
At the root of a toxic workplace is often a lack of transparency from management. As a result employees may feel that they cannot trust their superiors. This can include big decisions being made without explanation, public favoritism, or key employees being excluded, without explanation, from important meetings. When trust is eroded, employee morale erodes quickly, and the void is filled with frustration, gossip, and suspicion.
3. Excessive Burnout and Turnover
Because ministry is a calling to many, burnout and turnover can be the most overlooked of all the warning signs. But make no mistake, if the ministry consistently places unrealistic demands on employees, leading to burnout and constant turnover, it’s a sign of toxicity. This pressure can come from long working hours, spending Sundays away from family, or an expectation that employees are expected to “win” while operating with minimal resources. When employees are constantly overworked, it can have long term consequences for their mental, physical, and spiritual health.
In some rare cases, ministries may view the traits listed above as badges of honor. If you’re an employee in an environment where this is the case, remove yourself from it as soon as you can find another opportunity. God needs you healthy so you can serve His Kingdom in other ways.
If you lack the experience or authority to tackle organizationals toxicity, it may be necessary to address these issues with HR or seek support from external resources such as a mentor, counselor, or even legal counsel, depending on the severity of the challenges.
Finally, if you lead an organization with any of the traits listed above, you have a biblical responsibility to facilitate healing in these areas. Caring for your team is a privilege that God has entrusted you with as a leader. Put your team members’ well-being first, and God will richly bless your efforts and your organization.