The scenario is common. A church has contacted you. You have a sense of God’s leadership to take some next steps. You have prayed about it. You have prayed with your spouse, and you are both on the same page. The process begins. You enter it with excitement and anticipation.
What, then, are some of the actions by you that might discourage the church from considering you further? I have worked and spoken with hundreds of churches that shared with me what a candidate did that hurt his or her opportunity to move forward. Here are seven of the most common.
- Don’t stop praying. We can become so focused on the opportunity that we neglect to submit the matter totally to the Author of all great opportunities. Continue to be fervent in prayer, seeking God’s will and wisdom.
- Don’t stop seeking your spouse’s input. My wife, Nellie Jo, is wise and godly. I have messed up on more than one occasion where I plowed ahead with a ministry opportunity without really seeking her input. Every time I failed to include her, I have made mistakes. Your spouse’s life will be impacted as much as yours by this potential move.
- Don’t act over anxious. I recently spoke to a chairman of a pastor search committee regarding a situation where I had recommended a candidate. The chairman informed me that they were not going to pursue my recommendation further because the candidate seemed overly anxious. Indeed, he had emailed and phoned the chairman four times in one week.
- Don’t call members in the prospective church. Word travels quickly. It will soon be known that you are trying to manipulate the process by getting church members to be an advocate for you.
- Don’t fail to be responsive. This one can be a challenge because churches are often notoriously slow in responding to the candidate. Don’t follow their example. Instead, be prompt and courteous with every request they make as long as you are a candidate.
- Don’t fail to be transparent and forthcoming. Another recent story of mine is telling. Again, a search committee chairman contacted me to let me know they were no longer considering a candidate. They conducted a social media search of the candidate and found that he had a track record of being negative and critical on blogs and other media. The chairman said that the tone of the candidate’s comments was problematic; but his failure to disclose this issue ahead of time was even more troubling.
- Don’t play one church against another. There are exceptions. You may have a deadline to respond to a second prospective church, so you feel it is a matter of integrity to let the first prospective church know. But most of the time, letting churches know other congregations are considering you is just not the best path to take.
Let me hear from those of you on either side of the search process. I bet we can have some healthy interaction.