Saturday, January 27, 2007

Dealing with "competition"

Is there competition in candidacy?

A friend and I were talking yesterday about how you should handle situations where you and friend are both candidates for the same position.  As American men, perhaps our sense of competition rises to the surface too often.  (I'm reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer fell off the gambling wagon by betting on, of all things, which flights would arrive next at the airport.)

But in reality there shouldn't be a very strong sense of competition in candidacy.  When you are one of several (or more) candidates for a single position, you are-- at most-- competing for the time and attention of the search committee.

Beyond that, I think you must view candidacy from a perspective larger than yourself.  This process is not all about you.  Though you need to make wise decisions (and you need to ask the questions and get the information needed to be discerning), in the end you must put the needs of the congregation above yours.  It is God's church, and He has chosen precisely the man for the position you are being considered for.  And that might not be you.

(As my friend said yesterday, "God still has plans for you, even if you aren't the one for that particular position.")

Whether the "competition" is a close friend from seminary or nobody you know, don't be overly disappointed when someone else gets the call.  You need to be emotionally invested in the process, but guard against taking it "personally" when you aren't chosen.  It isn't rejection-- it is a victory for that congregation to have the man God has called.  And if that man isn't you, you don't want to be there, anyway.

My attitude on this has been shaped by the wisdom of a 15 year-old.  She was on the search committee that brought me to one of the Youth Ministry jobs I held.  Her words stand out to me, not so much as an affirmation of me, but as a testimony of her faith.  After I had begun serving in that position, her father told me about what she said.  It seems that she came home from the interview and told him, "If this isn't the guy that God is bringing here, I'm really excited about who it must be!"

I translate this into candidacy when I face the struggles of feeling rejected: no matter how great a particular opportunity seems, if that isn't the church God has for me, I should be very excited about the one He does have.

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