Tag Archive: forgiveness

Past & Present: Disqualifiers From Being Hired


Man's Hand Resting on a Stack of Bibles, Isolated Background

©qingwa / Dollar Photo Club

At some point in a minister hiring process, the question needs to be asked: is there anything in your present or in your past that could disqualify you from this position? And that question needs to be answered, fully.

Many times, churches are afraid to ask that question. Their reasons might be:

  • I like this person. I don’t care about their past – I only care how they’re living now.
  • They’re not being considered for the Supreme Court. Does our due diligence need to be worthy of a Senate hearing?
  • Who are we to judge?
  • If they’ve asked for forgiveness from God, does it matter to us?
  • I really like the person, and if I learn something negative about them, I might have to go another direction (yes, this happens).

I think all those are fair sentiments. But ignoring this question about a candidate’s past can have consequences to your church, which makes it a question church leadership can’t ignore.

Learning about a suspect area of a candidate’s past or personal life doesn’t mean you have to respond by removing them from consideration. That is a discernment process for you and other decision makers to consider.

But as a church, you need to know. Once you know, you can then determine how to weight the issue exposed (if there is one).

As a candidate, you need to reveal your story. (I’ve written previously about the importance of total transparency in the interview and selection process.) You’re serving Christ. He knows what your past and your current private life is, and can handle how those areas are interpreted by the church you’re talking to. Show strong character, and trust God by freely sharing.

A church may find that your arrest for vandalism twenty years ago no longer matters to them. They may determine that your addiction to pornography or prescription drugs was prior to you knowing Christ, and no longer matters to them. But the point is, they know…

… They know this is your second marriage. They know you barely avoided divorce after you were unfaithful to your spouse. They know you’re currently being sued by a former church member. The point is that they know upfront.

Your transparency with the hiring leadership allows them to make the best decision for their church. And, should they move forward in the process, your transparency allows them to deal appropriately with future inquisitors. For example:

Church member: “Did you know ‘the candidate’ once… ?”

Hiring team: “Yes, we did know. ‘Candidate’ told us about the occurrence, explained it to us, and we considered it as a part of our selection process.”

Ministerial candidate: Be upfront about your past and current struggles. It may cost you a job opportunity, but you’ll have to trust God for that. Concealment is not a way to start a relationship.

Hiring teams: Don’t assume they’re going to spill the beans. Ask them point-blank about their past their current life. Here are some of the questions I ask prospective minister candidates:

  1. Do you have or have you had any addictions?
  2. Do you have any unhealthy or unbiblical preoccupations?
  3. Is there anything in your past that if it came to light, could cause the church or me concern?
  4. Is this your first marriage?

We all have to want what’s best for the Church. And depending on your role, that means admitting to some hard things or asking some hard questions.

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