Five Principles for Making the Right Hire
Our church is in the process of hiring an Associate Pastor to give some added leadership to our effort to revive a church that has been in decline for a number of years. By God’s grace we have seen some very positive signs in the last couple years, not to mention we have fertile soil for new ministry because of the long history of godliness and hospitality in this church. So we have a lot of hope but understand this is a church at a crossroads. That makes is that much more important that we hire the right person to join these efforts. We don’t have two or three tries to get it right. As we’ve entered into this process there are a five guiding principles we’re using, some we started with and others we’re learning along the way.
Number 1: Hire a person, not a job description.
There are a number of things we believe are important in order for us to move toward God’s future for the church. We’ve outlined five areas we believe we need to address (vision implementation, community missionary, pastoral care, family ministry, and leadership development) but we’ve resisted the urge to get too specific on the details of what it looks like to pursue each one. Our approach is to find a person/people who have a passion and ability to function well in these areas and then let them have the most prominent say in what we actually do. We want to maximize the strengths of the person we hire, not handcuff them with a job description that doesn’t fit their gifts and abilities.
Number Two: Behavior is more important than intention.
Thanks to my friend Christopher Hooper (@xchristopher) who introduced me to the well known idea of behavioral interviewing. For those who have interviewed and especially people in Human Services, I’m sure this is a well-known concept, but learning about it has been helpful for me. It makes sense that the best predictor of how someone will function is to look at what they’ve done in the past. It’s easy for someone to talk a good game, but more important that they’ve shown they can play a good game. This doesn’t mean a person can’t change, but like I said before, we don’t have time to try out someone who hasn’t shown previously ability in certain areas.
Number Three: Compatibility with the Lead Pastor
In the next two years the person we hire and I will be working together extremely closely to develop the ministry through the Spirit’s power. Our board chairman has reminded me over and over that one of the most important components of success will be my ability to work together well with the new person. This doesn’t mean we have to be best friends, but it does mean we need alignment on values, beliefs, and philosophy of ministry. We also need to be able to complement each other’s gifts.
Number Four: Understanding of the environment.
I don’t mean someone who can explain a carbon footprint, I mean someone who comes in understanding how to minister in the environment Mountair finds itself in. This means knowing the differences between faithful ministry in an urban context instead of a suburban one. It means knowing how to relate to people across all the ethnic, socio-economic, and generational lines that can be so difficult to navigate. It means being able to love the long-time members of the church and be passionate about reaching the community in innovative ways at the same time.
Number Five: Character over competency
This is nothing new either, but the last thing we need is someone who is immensely gifted but ungodly. I’ll take someone who stumbles through a sermon but is an example of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus over a captivating orator any day. Of course we hope to find someone who has great character and competency, but we’re also trying to keep them in the right perspective.
These are five of the important principles we’re working from. What else have you found helpful in your experience?