So I’m looking for a ministry position. This is an interesting process and very different than industry.
First, let’s get all the negatives out of the way. Most church (small to medium sized) hiring practices are very poor. Churches are terrible communicators with their pastoral candidates. There are situations where the elders – some of whom may have never gone to college – are expecting to hire somebody with a graduate degree. Additionally, the elders may not have much experience hiring people or, if they do, it’s manual or semi-skilled labor. The search committee may, if the candidate is fortunate, meet once a week. The candidate is expected to give, up front, a ton of difficult information. Much of the information expected is extremely personal. Some liken the process to a “spiritual colonoscopy.” And then, some churches are looking for candidates who must fit a Very Narrow band of beliefs and practices: not just Calvinistic or Arminian – are they Reform seven pointers or only five pointers? Not just amillenial or millennial, but are they non-dispensational pre-trib rapture pre-millennialists? Again, a group of elders who may not have been to Bible college, much less have seminary level training, assume that they know Biblical doctrine better than the guy who they’re interviewing.
When I looked for work in industry, I hit the want ads, sent resumes, only if the hiring people thought I had good qualifications was I then contacted by phone, then went to interview, and then I'd fill in an application. During the interview they didn’t ask me if I was in the Yourdon or McCracken school of program structure; they asked if I could do it, was I qualified, and assumed that if I were competent that they didn’t have to tell me how to do the job. They asked if I could get along with people, was a good worker, and didn't ask about my marrital relationship.
This process is pretty goofy.
But, there is something rather noble in the midst of all the chaos and incompetent practices. There is the realization that God is sovereign. There is the mix of tough and tender that this process imposes on those who enter it. On one hand, a candidate must have the emotional stuff to say, “Yes, I really think that God can use me in this church to do great things.” On the other hand, the candidate is constantly evaluating and checking their motives, the clarity of their hearing for the One voice that matters, attempting to wade through well-meaning advice, and being encouraging, gracious, and polite in the face of some thoughtlessly rude behavior.
Additionally, there is the testing of calling. How clear is the candidate's vision to this extremely important role? This rather annoying process can shake the candidate to the core: this isn't just a job, it is a "calling."
This is a weird line of work.