7 Ways to Hire the Perfect Person for Your Ministry

I’ve hired dozens of people. Probably more like hundreds. I spent more of my time in the business world than ministry, and in that world I hired many people. Even in ministry, though, I’ve had the honor and humbling responsibility of shaping several church staffs.

I don’t share this to brag on my abilities, but to make a point of credibility in the manner, I’ve had success in hiring people.

In the last year, I have had the opportunity again of adding to a church staff. I can honestly say we have one of the strongest teams of people I have ever known … in ministry or in business. I am frequently asked my “secret”… as if there is one. How do I find so many good people?

I don’t have a process, but I have learned a few things about hiring the right people. I’ve been blessed with a good amount of discernment, mostly through making similar decisions with good and bad results. That’s the purpose of this post. I’m sharing some suggestions from my experience.

Here are 7 suggestions for hiring the right person:

1. Put resumes aside. I’ve frankly only used them a couple times in my career. Granted, I keep my resume up to date and I think you should also, but a resume is not much more than an extended business card. It answers initial questions and may initially stir interest, but I have never hired anyone based on a resume alone…and frankly…the strongest resume is rarely the strongest candidate.

2. Ask people I trust. I am diligent about networking with people, because I know someday I may need the connection. I can’t always depend on what I read on a piece of paper (a resume), but I can almost always depend on the advice of a friend. I’ve told my boys they will possibly never have a job in their life where they didn’t know someone who helped them get the job. Relying on personal recommendations has been critical for me finding the right people.

3. Listen carefully. People are often talking. I run into people all the time who know people who know people. You do too. If I’m in the process of looking for someone, every conversation has the potential to discover someone. Of course, you have to be in the right conversations to hear such information, but I’m intentional enough to create dialogue … or steer conversations in that direction. I have learned that finding the right person is that important that it should play an important part in present conversations.

4. Use discernment. Obviously, because someone is thinking it, this includes prayer. (But, my hope is that you’d be prayerful in each of these steps.) But, I have learned that I can depend on my gut if my gut is properly centered. If I am in a good place spiritually and mentally, I can more easily discern the choices between numerous seemingly good people. And, that’s often the problem. Many times I have numerous good candidates. Deciding the right one is the hardest decision.

5. Think strategically. I try to think strategically about the person, the vision, and the person’s role and fit within the overall team. I have turned down good people, because they weren’t the best person at the time. This is a critical step. You can hire the one who appears to be the best candidate and because they were mismatched to the team it turns out to be a disaster.

6. Hire for heart. I will always hire  for heart over skills. I always choose character over competence. Granted, we need both but one trumps the other in my experience. I want qualities such as passion, honesty, follow through, commitment, integrity, and loyalty. This is another place a resume isn’t much help. It’s also where a recommendation from others can help. (Not their references … but someone you know.) By the way, especially in ministry, but I also hire for the heart of the spouse. If I wouldn’t hire both I don’t hire one. You’ll just have to trust me on that one if it doesn’t make sense.

7. Ask experts. There is usually someone in your field who knows people you don’t know to whom you should be talking. That could be someone in ministry, a denominational leader, or a professional consultant. I don’t have to know them to ask them for suggestions. They often know someone looking or someone who would be a good fit. They are usually honored to be asked. Finding the right person is too important to leave it to the “hunt and peck” method of shifting through multiple resumes.