For the past several months, I have been thoroughly enjoying looking for ministry positions. I have gone through several interviews, visited a few different places, and have said more about myself than I ever cared. Unfortunately, I have not found a position. So now, I am looking at going to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. Hopefully, I will be continuing my M.Div. there. I am hoping that this does not sound like I am going to Grad School because I am not hirable. Sometimes I fear that may be the perception. Perhaps I am not the ideal candidate, however.
One of the questions that a candidate is always asked is: “Can you tell us about some of your weaknesses?” This is a fun question. I love this question. It gives me a chance to be honest with them on what I see as a possible problem. However, I have learned that there is an art to answering this question. This art is one that I refuse to put into practice, though.
I usually come right out and say what my weaknesses are: stubbornness, anger, temper, misunderstood sense of humor, appearing nonchalant, pride, etc. I am sure most of you can point out my weaknesses (an addiction to coffee is not one of them). So I come right out and say those things. This has not been beneficial in the job search.
I have learned that there are different ways of saying these things. For instance, instead of saying “I am pretty stubborn when it comes to what I want to do.” You should say, “I am a little too driven to accomplish my ideas.”
Do not say: “I have an anger issue.” Say, “Sometimes I am overwhelmed with righteous anger.”
Do not say: “I have a short temper.” Say, “There are worldly annoyances that cause me to get upset rather quickly.”
Do not say: “Some people do not understand my sense of humor because I joke about things that should not be joked about.” Say, “I love laughter…a little too much sometimes.”
Do not say: “Sometimes it appears that I do not care about people or their situation.” Say, “I sometimes zone out when people are talking to me because I am busy thinking about things that need to be done.”
Do not say: “I am very prideful.” Say, “I do not struggle with pride.” (That is just another way of saying you are prideful…but it makes it seem like you aren’t)
It seems like some places I have interviewed would rather me say: “I care too much,” or “I devote all of my free time to my ministry,” or “I do not read the Bible enough,” or “I am not as spiritually mature as I would like to be.” We would rather our weaknesses be portrayed in a good light. However, “I care too much,” is just another way of saying, “I do not know how to let go of things. I worry about many problems that I should not be worrying about.” “I devote all of my free time to my ministry,” is just another way of saying, “I am not good at time management and will probably burn out quickly.” “I do not read the Bible enough,” is just another way of saying, “I do not read the Bible at all,” or “I have set too high of expectations upon myself and cannot live up to them. This means that I do not know how to set realistic goals.” “I am not as spiritually mature as I would like to be,” … well let’s not even go there.
The point is this. I would rather be brutally honest than try and portray my weaknesses in a good light. The only good thing about my weaknesses are that in them, God is strong. I am stubborn; but God continually shows that He can break me down. I have a short temper; God still uses me despite the fact that I’ll get mad. I have a borderline inappropriate sense of humor; God still uses me to help lighten moods and situations.
I will never cover up who I truly am to get hired at a church. There is nothing I despise more than inauthenticity. I know, I am not hirable. I have a bachelor’s degree, limited experience (by most churches’ standards), and weaknesses that are shown for what they are. I know there is probably more that goes into it than just that. However, as I continue looking for positions, it seems more and more like I should change who I am to try and impress the church. That is something I will never do. I will never try and impress. I will be me. 100% me. If it is not something that is desired, that’s okay. It is better to hire me because of me, than to hire me because of I put on a good show.