Monday, January 15, 2007

Candidacy as "dating"

My friend Craig asked me about my progress in candidacy, and he particularly inquired about whether I would slow or stop my pursuit of other opportunities just because I've gained some ground on a few.

In short, my answer was, "no."

Some folks have used a dating analogy to describe the candidacy process.  There are two problems with this: first, as Mark Twain said, "every analogy has a limp."  They always break down at some point, as Craig reminded me.  But they have a useful function until then.

The second problem is that most mis-apply the analogy in the case of candidacy as dating.  Here is how many see it:
  • Finding a likely fit = falling in "like" (i.e., beginning to date with serious intent)
  • Getting a phone interview = entering into serious courtship
  • Being invited for an interview weekend = engagement
  • Being offered a call = marriage
When you view it this way, however, your progress is slowed with any other opportunity, and you have misinterpreted the communication from the present opportunity.

I account this improper application of the analogy to the fact that most Christians today do not understand or practice the kind of "casual dating" that our parents did.  When viewed from that perspective (the one with an understanding of casual dating), the analogy actually works:
  • Finding a likely fit / making initial contact = meeting others in a social context (Craig called it "hitting the singles bars")
  • Getting a phone interview = being asked out on a date
  • Being invited for an interview weekend = beginning a more serious dating relationship / courtship
  • Being offered a call = a proposal for engagement
  • Accepting the call = accepting the proposal
  • Beginning to serve in that call = marriage
After this, the analogy breaks down, because serving the full-term of one's ministry does not equate with "'til death do us part."  But in understanding the stages of candidacy, the analogy is helpful-- IF it is applied properly.

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