Yesterday, I wrote about “good matches” between congregations and pastors or between people looking for spiritual community and those communities. But – to be honest – sometimes saying “It wasn’t a good match” is another way of saying “This person/church/community wasn’t ______ enough.”
Another way of putting it, in a most personal way: “You aren’t the right fit.” Yes, we take it personally.
Maybe this code for:
- “You are too old.”
- “You are too young.”
- “You are too black.”
- “You are too white.”
- “You are too female.
- “You are too male.”
- “You don’t look like our next pastor should look.”
I get it that Pastor Nominating Committees – for example – are looking for someone who will “fit” into an existing context.
Let’s say that all the other pastors on a church staff are all male. Chances are you are especially seeking a female – at least if we are talking about a Mainline Protestant congregation.
Or what if you are trying to expand the racial diversity of your staff and you don’t need another white person?
Or what if your staff is comprised of several people over the age of 50 and you really want to hire someone under 40 for some age diversity?
Or what if everybody on staff is an extrovert or a Type A personality or a Myers-Briggs “J” and you badly need an introvert/laid back/”P.”
It hurts to hear “You just weren’t a good fit” or “You weren’t what we were looking for.” Ouch. We can’t exactly change who we are. And we live in such a litigious society that we can’t exactly say, “We didn’t need another white, female 60 year old.”
Consider, though, that we in the Church are in the Holy Spirit business. We need to recognize that the person we are looking for is not always the one God is guiding us to call.
But in the meantime, here’s some unsolicited advice to those who interview candidates for church jobs – or any job: Please don’t speak in code when turning someone down for a position. Please don’t say, “You were not a good fit” or “You were not what we were looking for.”
Gentle readers: What would be a better thing to say when a church nominating committee has decided to say “no”?