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October 27, 2009 / albaninst

job qualifications

Copyright kandyjaxxHow would you describe the most important skills or qualifications that you bring to the position of leadership that you hold in the church?  What immediately leaps to my mind are those lists of adjectives that have masqueraded as qualifications for many jobs in the church I have held over the years.  Help Wanted: experienced, responsible, reliable, organized, competent, skilled, likeable, supportive, flexible, collaborative, knowledgeable, proficient person to ….

There’s a sort of implied threat in such lists — no one need apply who is in-experienced, ir-responsible, un-reliable, dis-organized, in-competent …. you get my drift.   It’s what the dis-abled face all the time — and if you’ve ever faced a seemingly interminable job search, you know what it’s like to suspect that the one thing that dis-qualifies you in many people’s eyes is precisely that you’re un-employed.  You get to the bottom of  so many of those lists of job qualifications and suspect that Mother Teresa wouldn’t get a second interview.

So you can imagine that I found it very refreshing to discover through a colleague, Marty Davis of the Congregational Resource Guide, a group of “entrepreneurial innovators in ministry communications” meeting in Chicago today who value a whole other set of job qualifications for the work they do.  You can see it in the fact that they invited facilitators who describe themselves as including a brand strategist, visual storyteller, Twitter addict, strategy orchestrator, wooer, futurist, ideator, brand innovator, lifehacker, textologist, compulsive networker, and experience engineer — among other things.

It made me wonder what all religious congregations would be like if we could advertise job openings in our communities without the dis-qualifications looming so large, and instead could say just what it is that we really need the most.  Wanted: A compulsive networker and incorrigibly hopeful futurist and wooer of the straying, a lifehacker full of tips and tricks for getting things done among people who often seem to have given up already, a visual storyteller and verbal artist — strategy orchestrator, textologist, and Experience Engineer, to serve as ….

O.k., fair enough — Mother Teresa might not get that job, either — but she might just apply!  If only we’d ask–and if we’d list some of the real things that make each of us the most interesting, and helpful, and faithful in our lives as congregational leaders.

What qualities do you think make you the right fit for the job your currently hold?  And what qualifications do you find yourself longing to discover some day, in an advertisement saying, Help Wanted: ….  ?

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  1. Lawrence Bergstresser / Oct 31 2009 4:15 pm

    I am a pastor, but through the years I have had some involvement with politics. I have often wondered about the people who actually run the party behind the scenes. They are often not very attractive, articulate, or friendly to those they do not know well. But they believe in the major messages of their party (some of the time). They are loyal. They are willing to do the work: arranging and attending meetings, supporting other “political hacks,” asking for and contributing money, and just sticking around year after year, and carrying memories of past wins. So the qualities I observe are belief (some), loyalty, work ethic, contribution, memory. Aren’t these also the traits of active church members?

    Wanted: a person who believes in what we are doing some or most of the time; one who is loyal to his colleagues and who will do the work required. A person who will stick around and remember the good times.


  2. MG McCain / Oct 30 2009 11:15 pm

    To be a leader in the setting of congregations may require more persons who can give of themselves rather than lead and never knowing who they are leading and where they are being led to. In the changing culture of church we may not want to lead as CEO’s do for a different kind of results. We may need to lead people of faith to where they can grasp on to who God is calling them to become rather than get results from leaders who only look at the numbers in worship, sunday school and other ministries and never get to struggle to find what they can become. The leader for the church today will need to truly live among the people.

  3. Stuart Carothers / Oct 30 2009 4:22 pm

    One of the least productive traditions amoung churches that rely predominantly on volunteer services is the tendency to put any willing body in any open position. Any selectivity is abandoned in favor of universal acceptance and the desire to never see any activity abandoned–no matter how outdated it may be. This issue is closely tied to relevance and multi-generational concerns.

  4. Mark Pitton / Oct 30 2009 3:50 pm

    More than just being about who one might find in the search, doing it this way would proclaim more vividly who the church is. It seems maybe even more about self definition than about what we want in a leader.

  5. Rev Mary S Harris / Oct 30 2009 2:43 pm

    This is the first time I’ve responded to an article because it hits home for me. Doing interim ministry is a new challenge with each congregation and the characteristics of a chameleon come to mind as do the creative descriptors in this article. Kudos for the “out-of-the-box thinking.

  6. G. Lloyd Rediger / Oct 30 2009 2:00 pm

    Keep it simple & satisfying…

  7. G. Lloyd Rediger / Oct 30 2009 1:56 pm

    I appreciate this roundtable on Job Qualifications. However, I find many pastors in OCD re all the essays & books now trying to convince us that there is only one best way to be a “LEADER.” In my years of doing therapy with clergy, I have found that the most competent & relaxed pastors develop a simple but realistic regimen of ABCs that work for both selfcare & inspired leadership. The A stands for AWARENESS; the B for BASICS;& the C for CONNESTIONS. Following & occasionally reviewing this derived regimen allows for both peace & achievement.

  8. Jim Vickers / Oct 30 2009 4:51 am

    Here is a reflection I had after our son died and I flt like a failure as a parent. It was published in the Canada Lutheran in 2007, I think, during lent. Perhaps you can use it.


    Our world holds the greatest sin to be failure. I have heard it said that a
    greater sin than failure is not to get up and try again. Of course that is just another
    way of saying that the greatest sin is failure.
    We all like to be successful. We are proud of our successes and we are
    ashamed of our failures. We do have successes. Some of us are quite successful.
    Some of us are quite smart. We may graduate from high school with honours and
    awards. Some of us may get an advanced degree or certificate and be honoured in
    our field. Some can make beautiful music and become quite famous. We may make
    the team and get a letter. We may be a gifted athlete, an Olympian, a wealthy
    professional athlete. We may be successful in business and earn a fortune. We
    may have a spouse and a loving family. Some of us may do several of the
    above. Yes, some of us are very successful.
    Some of us on the other hand do not make the team. Some of us may fail
    our courses. Some of us lose fortunes and fail in business. Some of us become burnt
    out. Some of our families break down and break apart. Some of us are not honoured or
    honourable. We may be addicted to many things. We may be seen as complete
    failures. We may see ourselves as failures. We are ashamed of our failures.
    We think we are alone in this because everyone else looks successful.
    People hide their failures too. That is the enemy’s greatest success; to keep us
    apart and ashamed.
    What about the church’s greatest success story. That would be Jesus. He was
    successful in the end wasn’t he?
    Let’s think about this. He was born out of wedlock. He was predicted to save his
    people. He did not save Israel from the Romans. He called them to repent because the kingdom
    was near. The kingdom they expected did not come. He left the family business in his prime.
    He raised the dead yet his father died. His hometown people tried to stone him to death. He hid his successes. He told the demons to be quiet when they called him Son of God. Those
    whom he healed he told not to say anything but they went everywhere and told everyone. His family did not understand him. He raised everyone’s expectations and let them down in the end.
    He died a criminal’s death. He was a failure by all our standards. He was among many
    thousands of failures crucified by the Romans.
    Yes he raised people from the dead, but they all died later anyway. Yes he fed the
    5000, but a week later they were probably hungry again. Yes he healed many but they all died
    as well. Yes he cast demons out but sometimes more came back. He talked about love but
    his teaching divided families. He lived off the generosity of women. In those days that would
    have made him the object of derision. Jesus of Nazareth was a failure. He started out big but
    he ended up dead like all of us.
    So why do we remember him at the communion table? Because he rose from the
    dead? Yes. But we also remember that while we are sometimes secretly failures; he was
    openly a failure, and paid for it with his life. He did not hide his failures.
    We do identify with Jesus. We do not identify with Jesus because he is King of Kings
    and Lord of Lords. You might identify with the King of Kings if you were a king but most of
    us are not royalty. We identify with him because like us he has been a failure in the eyes of the
    world. He demonstrated to us that he could be the most abject failure in the world and yet God
    loved him and raised him from the dead.
    But we in the church do not like to remember Jesus the failure. We like to pretend that
    we are big successes. We do not like to be seen as failures. We love the world too much. We
    hide Jesus’ failures by building beautiful buildings, by singing beautiful music, by wearing fine
    clothes. Who wants to be identified with a failure like Jesus. We want to be identified with the
    risen Christ, the Creator of the Universe!
    Jesus says” depart from me you cursed for I was hungry and you gave me no food…
    in Matt Chapter 25. But who wants to be associated with those failures, the hungry, the thirsty,

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    the alien, the naked, the sick, the prisoner? Especially if they are not a tax deductible charity
    approved by the church and the state. Even in their failures we expect people to be successes.
    But Jesus wants to be associated with these failures in fact he says he is these failures
    “ If you do it to the least of these my brothers you have done it to me.”!!
    So the next time someone sits down next to you who may smell bad or talk funny, don’t
    edge away from them. Treat them like a close relative that you love dearly. Talk to them
    because you’ll be talking to Jesus. You need to talk to them because they will be ministering to
    you. They will be teaching you. They will be healing you of the sin of pride. The next time
    someone asks for money, give them what you have, they will be teaching you about the sin of
    greed. You need to give it to them because it is an opportunity to learn about the fellowship of failure.
    We like to forget that to come to the resurrection we have to declare our worldly failures and suffer the consequences.
    Jesus did not protect himself yet in the failure to protect himself, he drew to himself the
    failures of this world. That is all of us. We all have failures in our past however carefully
    hidden and papered over they are. When we see that we are acceptable with our failures as well
    as our successes then we know a little of the eternal life that Jesus demonstrated to us in his
    resurrection. While we may be failures in the eyes of the world and even our eyes, we are
    acceptable in God’s kingdom for he loves us as he loves his son and as his son loves us.
    When we come to the Lord’s table we remember him and his brokeness and our
    brokeness. But our failures die with his failure; so that we may know ultimate acceptance
    and live with him in his resurrection, forever.

  9. Stephen Holton / Oct 30 2009 2:46 am

    A person of prayer who will bring the earthly world to the heavenly, stir well and bake in the light of God. Serve up what comes out, to the world. Then get more ingredients from the lay people out of their skills and insights, and do it all again.

  10. Bob Sitze / Oct 29 2009 9:59 pm

    Job Seekers:

    It appears to me that part of the qualifications of those of us who want to lead is an ability to lead from behind, unattached to our toys and ego-glitter. The classic leader always shows up easily — as in flash-and-dash — but the leader who will live, learn and lead into the coming decades of institutional decline is probably more like Mother Teresa before her one-blanket-placement in Calcutta: An obscure Albanian nun willing to give it all away in a risky environment.

    Or perhaps the pack of the post-modern leaders got ahead of me?


  11. Rev Lara Blackwood Pickrel / Oct 29 2009 8:18 pm

    Yes! And we help ministers and lay people learn to describe themselves in authentic ways (using descriptors that actually mean something!).

  12. Pamela Bezona / Oct 29 2009 8:05 pm

    Love the idea of being clear and creative in the posting process. Best predictor of future performance is past behavior. Post, recruit and interview for the behaviors that are necessary for success as a wooer/futurist/ideator. The next step, however, is to name/identify what the descriptors “look like”. Answer the question; If someone was/is demonstrating being a wooer, futurist, ideator, what can you SEE them do or HEAR them say or EXPERIENCE them doing.(experience = results of their actions) Change the wooer/futurist/ideator descriptors into observable behaviors or “looks like.” In the interview process you’re asking for successful past performance in the demonstration of wooing/futuristic/ideator BEHAVIORS. Name it, define it, measure it and then interview using the “looks like” criteria. It’s a new day in the arena of job hunting

  13. Eileen Vizcaino / Oct 29 2009 7:05 pm

    Do judicatories of “mainline” “denominations” want anyone with ANY of those qualities? If so, it is a deep secret. Selection processes really have not changed in 100 years, as many cling to the life rafts of familiarity while weeping over dwindling numbers.

  14. Larryt Glover-Wetherington / Oct 29 2009 7:03 pm

    Don’t forget EXCITING!

  15. Joe Kormos / Oct 29 2009 6:35 pm

    goal oriented
    work independently AND in groups AND to lead groups
    ability to synthesize complex insights and find the point –the center; “distilled essence”
    ability to write clearly and persuasively
    web savvy; MS Office knowledgable –particularly PPT
    loud voice;
    public speaker and presenter
    reasonably large contacts list
    business world experience >> greater confidence in many situations

  16. Rev Karen Schindler / Oct 29 2009 6:33 pm

    This is an excellent article. By getting clearer on expectations, we are more likely to get exactly what we wanted!

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