Keeping Christ central
A weekly series from HOPE’s director of spiritual integration
You could feel the excitement in Roger’s voice.
“I think this might be the one. Significant leadership in a multinational bank—check. CPA license—check. Speaks the local language and English—check. Active in his church—check.” Everyone silently wondered, “Did we finally find the needle in the haystack?”
The position in question was CEO of one of our African microfinance institutions, and we felt the heat to get this role filled ASAP. The program needed leadership. The Central Bank required a technically savvy CEO. HR wanted closure. Everyone wanted him to be the right fit.
And then someone asked,
Does he have a demonstrated passion for making disciples and guiding our spiritual integration efforts?
Aside from our personal connection with Christ, there is nothing more critical to fulfilling our mission than hiring the right staff. Each new team member either deepens our Christ-centeredness or distracts, dilutes, and discourages it. This is especially true of leaders but applies to every role from top to bottom.
Here are five principles we’ve been learning at HOPE about hiring for mission fit.
- Prayer. It is one thing to say that our hiring practices are guided by prayer—it is another to actually allocate the time. Practically make this your top priority throughout the process.
- Being a Christian is a minimum requirement. In many of the places where HOPE serves, candidates will do almost anything to get a job, including paying for letters of recommendation or lying about matters of faith. A profession of faith is essential but not sufficient.
- Look for calling. More than resumes, references, and stated interest, do you sense that the candidate is called to your mission? When you ask about passions, strengths, and spiritual gifts, do you sense strong alignment? If God hasn’t called them to your mission, solid believers with strong technical skills are the wrong choice.
- Create a diverse hiring committee. Involve several voices from different functions. Solicit feedback from interviews in writing to prevent group think. Make sure to look for more than experience and technical skills.
- When in doubt, slow down. Sometimes everything looks good from a logical perspective, but the committee still lacks peace. Heed this, continue to pray, and slow down enough to make room for God’s leading.
So what happened with the CEO candidate? We set up several more interviews, which confirmed that he was a wonderful brother in Christ but not the right fit for HOPE. God later brought a great leader He’d been preparing for years.
If we are serious about fruitful, Christ-centered ministry, effective hiring must be a top priority. Admittedly, finding the right people takes time, diligence, and deep commitment to prayer, but few decisions have such potential to derail our mission as this one. May we all choose the harder and better way.
Thank you for your insightful post. I think you have touched on one of the most important aspects of avoiding mission drift. It is interesting that in CSFI’s “Microfinance Banana Skins 2014” (http://www.centerforfinancialinclusion.org/publications-a-resources/browse-publications/610-microfinance-banana-skins-2014), three of the top 10 risks facing microfinance had to do with staffing and leadership. Number 5 was governance, number 8 management and number 10 staffing. Both the leader and the staff employed in an organisation play a critical role in the preservation and actualisation of the mission and vision of an organisation. I really appreciate your insight that “each new team member either deepens our Christ-centeredness or distracts, dilutes, and discourages it.” Far too often, I have seen a disconnect between the leader/s and the rest of the staff resulting in mission drift. I agree with you that the who you hire is crucial and your 5 principles are invaluable. I would add that training and educating new staff members in the organisation’s values and ethos are equally as important. The ongoing investment in staff and inclusion in decision-making, for example strategic planning, creates a deep sense of synergy and ownership within organisations, reducing the chance of mission drift.