Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hiring for Potential

How odd is it to lead an organization where we often don’t hire the “best” person for the job but people with potential in the eyes of Jesus.

That is definitely not what a human resource 101 class would teach. But it’s the whole point of what we are attempting in a faith venture. We seek to run a business as mission that employs individuals rebuilding lives from situations like addiction, homelessness, and prison that would normally make such persons unemployable in society’s eyes. Inevitably, every faith venture organization attempting such a mission is going to wrestle with the hiring decision.

The tricky part comes down to walking the fine line between achieving the redemptive employment goals with the need to have employees capable of serving the customer. As a result, hiring is not a science, but an art with an eye firmly on Jesus seeking his guidance every step of the way. To navigate the hiring decision, we look for the following four items when choosing program participants at Belay and Bud’s Warehouse:

  • Evidence of Grace- Can we see some indication, no matter how slight, that God is working in the potential program participant’s life? This doesn’t mean that the individual needs to be a follower of Christ—in fact, we like it when they aren’t--, but that you can see that God is pursuing this person. To keep my senses finely tuned in this area, I return often to the gospels for stories of Jesus’ love for the outcast and forgotten.
  • A Turning- Does the person show some evidence that they have turned away from their old lifestyle choices and now want to move forward in a new direction? Even if it is very tentative, it is still so necessary for an individual to want a different life. Without it, the person will not succeed in our program.
  • Brokeness- Be wary of the individual who presents himself as having it all together. Every person in a faith venture organization, especially the leadership, needs to have an understanding that their life is inherently broken. Sometimes you have to pry during the interview process, but everyone needs to be comfortable presenting themselves as not having it all together. Because people who have it all together are not in a place to rely on God, the necessary ingredient for healing and wholeness.
  • Partnerships- Is the candidate enrolled in another program such as a faith based transitional living program? As I discussed here, the potential for rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness and prison go up with the involvement of more than one program and/or a faith community.
  • Listening to God- And finally and most importantly, what is God saying? I’ve had times when against my judgment and the prior four points, I sensed very clearly that God wanted us to hire a particular individual. The whole process needs to be bathed in prayer with ears attentive to God for each hiring decision.


At the various businesses of Belay, our hiring decisions don’t always work out. But when they do, it’s something of true beauty. After all, God is in the business of restoring that which has been broken. And what a joy it is to have a seat front and center watching God’s grace in action.

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