4 Reasons to Leave a Staff Position Vacant

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Originally posted September 21, 2012 

It’s happened.

A prized member of your church leadership team has told you that they are leaving the staff.

Whatever the reason for the departure, the reality is you now face the daunting task of finding someone to fill this key role.

What is the best thing you can do now?


Absolutely nothing.

Image via iStockPhoto.com

Don’t post an ad, don’t work your network, don’t call around to other churches.

Don’t do a thing.

At least, not right away.

Now is the time to deliberately, purposefully, let the position stay vacant for as excruciatingly long as possible.

Despite every bone in your body screaming to hire someone immediately, effective leaders know that there are at least 4 compelling reasons to let the position remain vacant as long as possible.

1.   Delaying the hire allows you to figure out what you really need
Sometimes the panic to immediately hire a replacement robs you of the chance to analyze how your organization has changed, and how you may now need to completely re-think the former role.

2.   Delaying the hire provides a prayer opportunity for your church
When you have a vacancy on your team you have a golden opportunity to rally your people in prayer.

3.   Delaying the hire allows volunteers to step up
There’s nothing like a gaping hole in leadership to give key volunteers a chance to extend their leadership.

4.   Delaying the hire allows you the maximum opportunity to find the best person
You’re always better off leaving a vacancy for an extended period of time than filling it with the wrong person.

When you have a staff vacancy you will feel an overwhelming urge to make the quickest hire possible. You might even convince yourself that a “less than ideal” candidate is the answer just so you can avoid the pain of a long vacancy in the post.

Resist the urge.

Take your time.

In the long run you’ll be glad you did.

How long do you wait before filling a key post?

the author

Scott Cochrane

Lifelong learner, practitioner and coach of leadership, across more than 50 countries. Follower of Jesus, husband of Nora, grateful parent and grandparent.


  1. The delay and time and care taken to replace the person also sends a very clear message to your staff that you don’t settle for just anyone. Your commitment to adding someone great to the team is both an encouragement to them but also a gut check for them as they recognize that they play a key role as well on a high performance team. The ‘not settling’ approach lives on past the hire and everyone on the team knows the importance of their own delivery.

  2. Great point Jordan! Everything about the hiring process sends signals about the values of the organization. As you say, to send a signal that says “We won’t settle” can create huge “value ripples” through the staff.

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