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Hire For The Heart

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Hire for the Heart, Not Just the Head

You may be wondering how we manage to find enough formally trained, seminary-schooled pastors milling around among the laity to staff our church.  The answer is very simple:  We don’t.  We don’t think, in our style of church, that people who are formally trained are the only ones qualified to lead.  We don’t think that seminary is necessary for all positions—Pastor of Technology, for example—and we don’t have a problem with hiring women for key staff positions.  Just because someone knows Koine Greek doesn’t mean he or she will be a skilled leader, in touch with the church’s vision, and motivated to push forward.

It is more important for you to hire someone with the right heart than someone with all the right head knowledge.  I’m not saying you should divorce your leaders from their brains.  You still have to have intelligent people and strategic thinkers on board.  But I’m saying that if you are wavering between the candidate with the right head and the candidate with the right heart, go with the heart.

Let’s say candidate number one, Ben, is on fire for the Lord.  He has more drive, motivation, and energy than anyone you’ve ever met.  But he’s never been to seminary, and he has little technical knowledge of the Bible.  Candidate number two, Jerry, looks like the perfect staff member.  He graduated magna cum laude from one of the most prestigious seminaries in the country.  He’s already written three books, two of which made the bestseller list.  He would be a fabulous asset to your leadership team.  You don’t see the same drive in him that you see in Ben, the same all-out fire for God, but you’re sure that his credentials will make up for that.

Wrong.  It’s the other way around.  Ben’s heart will more than make up for what he lacks in the head.  But Jerry’s head can never fill in for what he lacks in the heart.  Think of it this way:  Ben can learn the head knowledge he should have for his position.  But no class will teach Jerry how to have a true heart for God.  This is the best reason for hiring people from within the membership:  Because you know them, you know if they have the right heart.

What Is the Right Heart?

There are usually three characteristics that tip you off to the people who have the right heart:  They are teachable, they are flexible, and they are loyal.  I want to be teachable as a pastor, and I want our staff to be teachable.  If a person isn’t teachable, he or she won’t make it on our church staff.  Staff members have to be willing to put the best interests of the church over their own best interests.


Andy Stanley/Ed Young, Can We Do That:  24 Innovative Practices That Will Change the Way You Do Church, (Howard Publishing Co.), 2002.  pg. 118

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