Looking for someone to join your team can be a long process, especially in church culture. Often times there are multiple interviews, phone conversations, and–depending on the position–the applicant will teach in front of a group in order to assess their abilities. This process can be arduous for parties on both sides, but what often gets overlooked are key qualities that we desire for the position.
Sure, we can all assume that the first quality is a relationship with Jesus, and then of course there’s the job description with all of the functions listed out. But I’m talking more about the personal qualities of the candidate verses perhaps a certain skill set. The qualities I have listed below are not all-encompassing, but rather six I focus on and the ones I believe will help me choose the right individual for the position, the ministry, and the church.
When it comes to hiring there are skill sets we look for, but we also must acknowledge skills can be taught or coached. One thing you can’t teach or coach someone to have is heart. If someone doesn’t have a heart for the ministry position, you can’t train them to have it.
Heart is something that comes from the Holy Spirit instilling a desire to care for and minister to a certain group or area. It is the burden for the Gospel to go forth within a certain context and isn’t something you can teach whoever you’ve hired for the position. Yes, you may be able to help people develop a desire for the ministry or group over time, but you should not have to train someone in this when it comes to a paid ministry position. This is something that the individual should have before they are hired.
Hiring someone who has a passion and excitement for the ministry is a must. If someone is simply looking for a job and isn’t passionate about what they’ll be doing or the people they’ll care for, the ministry and the people under your leadership will suffer. When you hire someone you need to understand if they are passionate about the position and if they view it as more than a job. They should understand that there is more than just a skill or skills needed for the position, but also a heart and passion for the people.
3. Dedication and commitment.
This is huge when it comes to any type of work but especially when it involves working at a church. Having someone who is not only dedicated and committed to their job duties but also to the church and her mission is huge. It shows that the person is responsible and willing to love and serve the church as they love and serve her people. These qualities highlight a good work ethic of the potential hire and also demonstrate their proactive view of the church and ministry.
4. Strong work ethic.
There are some people who assume that working at a church will be a cushy and lax position. And depending on the position, there may be moments when it’s more laid back and less busy. But the reality is this isn’t the focus of any job, let alone church work. Working in ministry can be faced paced, difficult, and challenging due to a variety of circumstances. Because of that it is necessary to have a good work ethic and strong communication skills in order to appropriately handle the duties of the specific job.
5. Healthy boundaries.
As you prepare to interview a potential teammate, one of the things you should focus on and be attune to is whether they are able to set and keep healthy boundaries. Often applicants will want to impress and will highlight their work ethic and dedication which are important things, but if they cannot find a work/life balance then there will be subsequent issues.
The idol of work in ministry is just that: an idol. The ministry is not dependent upon our time cards or the amount of time we are working for the ministry. If we have an all-or-nothing mentality, what it reveals is an idol within in our hearts that says, “Without me, this ministry will not survive.” That is a savior mentality, and last I checked, there is only one Savior and it isn’t us. That means we should be aware of how the applicant talks about their boundaries and we should be asking questions to make sure they have healthy ones for clarification. It would also be beneficial to let them know that the ministry has boundaries and that you, as a supervisor, will make sure they are honored.
This may sound simple enough, but the reality is there are people who simply interview and present well. What we should be looking for is authenticity within the person as a whole. This includes getting references and following up on them. Not in a “let’s find a fault” type of way, but to make sure you know all you can about the person you may bring onto your team. We want to make sure the person we interview is the same person who will show up to work each day. We want to ensure that in moments of stress this person will still embrace the mission and vision of the ministry and the church. So ask questions about personality types. Find out their love languages. Ask what their communication and work styles are. Seek to understand how they function in difficult circumstances. By doing these things you will begin to get a holistic idea of the individual and their potential fit in the position.
And as a brief aside, I would also recommend doing these things for applicants you know personally (i.e. people within the church, friends, etc.). While it may be easy for us to assert that “we know them,” the reality is you probably haven’t worked with them before in this type of environment. You must do due diligence in hiring someone and that means following up, asking good questions, and contacting references. That way you have a holistic understanding of how they operate within work environments and can truly seek to understand if they will be a good fit for your team.