Assessing Candidates – Calling

March 25, 2014 — Leave a comment

Over the past few weeks, I’ve focused on staffing in the local church.  This series will focus primarily on assessing candidates who emerge for potential roles on your team.  There are four primary areas of assessment that are crucial in assessing someone for a position on our staff:

  1. Calling
  2. Character
  3. Capacity/Competency
  4. Culture/Compatibility

This series will provide understanding and tools associated with how we assess these individual areas.

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Assessing Calling

Calling is a difficult thing to nail down, but it is the most fundamental question to answer when it comes to staffing.  I’ve written previously on some ideas related to calling here, but historically calling is broken down into three areas:

  • Internal Desire
  • External Conformation
  • Providential Opportunity
Tim Keller’s article at The Resurgence is a very helpful resource on the topic.

Two Questions

When it comes to staffing and calling, I think there are two crucial questions that we are attempting to answer:

  1. Is the candidate convinced of their calling to participate in the mission of God with your community?
  2. Is your community convinced of the calling of this individual to join your team?

Prayer is absolutely vital to answering those questions well, both for the candidate and the team doing the hiring.  The candidate must commit to prayerfully seeking the Lord to discern a calling, and the team must prayerfully go to the Lord to see if this is God’s provision for them.

In addition to prayer, I have found there are some helpful questions to ask when it comes to discernment on both sides.

The Candidate and Calling

For the individual to assess their calling, I have found these questions to be immensely helpful:

  • Would you worship with us and participate in our mission if you didn’t receive a paycheck?
  • Do you enjoy and trust the community and leadership that is already present?
  • Do you think the opportunity matches the gifts and skills that God has graciously given to you?
  • Can you support your family?
  • What will you do (or how will you engage through our church) if you don’t get this job?
Part of hiring well is ensuring the candidate has the opportunity to answer those questions with sufficient clarity.  I view the process of interviewing as an opportunity to provide an individual the  means to discern their calling, and consider it a joy to do so.  This helps me to adopt the posture of servanthood rather than critique in any dialogue I am having with a potential candidate, and allows them to thoughtfully and prayerfully.

The Current Team and Calling

If you are in the position of assessing and hiring candidates, the most important question you must answer is “do I believe God is calling this person to join our team?”.  Without being convinced of this, you will only be bought into the individual on a performance basis, rather than sticking through difficulties that are required to actually develop the person.

All of the assessments you do in character, competency and culture are aimed at helping you answer this question, but primarily this is the question you must answer with certainty.  If you’re going to ask someone to leave their previous calling behind, you had better be sure that God is moving and calling that person to be a part of your team!

Discerning Calling is Difficult

I would be remiss not to say that the only surefire guarantee of calling is found in the explicit words of God contained in Scripture.  In the Word we find God’s clear calling to make disciples for His glory, to love and serve Christ’s bride, and to worship God with all of our lives.  When it comes to hiring, I have found it is crucial to recognize that those must be the main priority of anyone’s life, and the questions of when, where and how those are pursued are always secondary.

Finally, the process of discerning calling requires a good deal of trust in God’s providence.  No assessment you can do, no interview you conduct, no research of experience will ever fully answer all the questions you have.  When I move forward with a candidate, I am trusting in God’s providence that through His word, the Christian community, and the perceived needs of the mission, I have a sufficient confirmation of His calling.

How do you think the idea of “calling” plays into staffing?

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

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