First of all, I've learned I don't like to call this process "candidating" in light of the political process Americans live in and all the positive/negative schmoozing that comes along with such a stereotypical word. Instead, I've chosen to look at it as exploring God's heart on such matters... this way whether or not it ends in a job you make some solid friends across the globe. It also allows you the ability to look at yourself in the mirror and night and be able to know you have been true to who God made you to be... not for the sake of pride, but for the blessing of peace.
A few of the key aspects of that include:
No negative attacks.One of the questions I am often asked is why I left certain jobs and whether or not they ended well. Early on in the process I felt the need to justify myself by explaining every detail of why things happened as they did. Although this is still a temptation that I slip up on at times, I tend to try and error on the side of saying, "I'll tell you a little bit about that, but I don't want to go down that road too much further because otherwise it will become an unproductive 'he said/I said' deal." In many cases this means I bite the bullet and take a risk that silence appears as though I'm hiding something. I guess my spin, though, is that I'd rather dignify the good things God is doing through people whom I disagree with than point out how human they are because we may have had a falling out.
Nevermind the false shine. Recently my wife asked if the church I was going to visit and speak at was a "come as you are church." I replied, "I don't know, but they are this week." It's easy to put your best foot forward in an interview, but I'd like them to know who I am in an interview setting so that if things work out I am the same person in 3 months. You certainly wouldn't want to work in an environment where you were expected to always be at your best, so be sure some of the "real you" comes out in the interview... if not a lot of the "real you."
Don't make up answers you don't know. Sometimes I am quizzed about what I will do in my first year of ministry or how I might solve the current problem with a particular ministry. In those situations I simply say, "I don't know." This isn't a cop-out, mind you, but rather an honest answer because of two simple facts: (1) I don't plan on making those decisions alone and will need to learn the perspective of those who live in the community already, and (2) Answering such questions would be assuming a direction before I'd even prayed about it over a good season (which tends to make things more human-driven than God-driven). If I don't know the job yet and what it means to live in that community with that opportunity, why should I pretend that I do? What this question is really asking is what is important to you, so take the time to say, "I don't know, but some values that I would like to flesh out somehow my first year are ___________."
Be comfortable being under a magnifying glass. So many people are looking at one aspect about you because of a past hurt or a future hope, and you just have to be okay with that. If someone wants to probe you on something, don't take a defensive position. That said, though, they are interviewing you and not your family. If your spouse or kids are put in a position that seems uncomfortable to them, step up to the plate and field that ball. In fact, on that note, when people ask how your spouse or family will participate in your ministry, let the person asking know that they will be held to the same level of accountability as any active member of the church... to find out how God has wired them up and serve at his pleasure (no one else's).
Expect to be Googled. According to conversations I have had in the past year, I have been "Googled" more times by the average church attender than I have filled out personality profiles for the designated search committee. That means in many cases they have read my blog... and yet they still choose to bring me in. What's weird about that is that most of my blog posts and magazine articles come from times that I just wanted to write or mess around with concepts, stories, and language during various emotional seasons and moods. I still have some things to work out in life, and sometimes I share those here (or in other places of the internet)... and yet for some reason it doesn't seem to be scaring people away. I'd like to think that means authenticity is a good thing in life.
Simply put, I'm just who I am and nothing more. At least, I am becoming something more each and every day but all I can speak for is who I am right now. For some reason I find myself able to keep a clear head about all of this even though the demands of life can be quite scary at times. In the end, though, it seems to be less about jobs and more about the kingdom.
The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7b)