Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Weekend Interview

When we first moved to Dallas two years ago, neither Steven nor I had a job. Since Steven was busy with school, I began applying for all sorts of part-time jobs.

The first job I applied for was an editing position that would utilize my education as an English major. I was surprised that at the first interview I was required to take a three-hour test over word usage, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure. When they called me for a second interview, I could only imagine the level of testing and writing that might be required and decided that job was not for me.

About the same time I applied to be an online website researcher. This interview process entailed several weeks of testing. I would complete one testing module and then receive an email that said, "Congratulations!  Please click on the following links for the next tests we would like for you to complete." I would complete those modules only to be asked to do some more. After about 4-6 weeks of testing, I finally got the job.

Since the online researcher position only required about 10 hours a week, I also applied to be a tutor. It was only 3-5 hours a week, but it paid well, and it gave me a chance to teach. The application process, however, turned out to be extremely long. Some parts of the process were expensive: for example, I had to get a Texas driver's license which required us to re-title our car. Other parts of the process were tedious: I needed a back-ground check which was simply a matter of filling out a form and getting fingerprinted. However, I inadvertently wrote my social security number incorrectly, so my 1-week wait time on my background check took six weeks.  In the midst of it I wondered, "Is this 3-5 hour a week job worth all of this?"  Finally, however, after two months of processing, I was finally able to start tutoring.

So, I'm not really unfamiliar with long hiring processes. However, all of those experiences are dwarfed by the process we have gone through more recently.

As you may have read in previous posts, we first applied for a pastoral job a couple of months ago, I think in April. It started out with familiar steps: application, a few follow-up questions. Those were stages one and two. Then Steven was asked a series of important "churchy" questions (stage three). Next he had a phone interview (stage four). And finally we were invited to come for a face-to-face interview (stage five). Of course the church is sifting through many applicants, trying to find the one who is the best fit for the job and the church family, so it takes some time. And it's not something anyone wants to rush into, so I understand that taking your time is important. My patience has been tested with the volume of stress in our lives right now, but I get it.

So last weekend Steven and I drove 630 miles for the interview (we just didn't tell the doctor). Through this whole process, we knew that this church does EVERYTHING with excellence, so we expected no less with the weekend interview. We were not disappointed.

This interview was different than any other interview I've ever been on or even heard of. First of all, the other two candidates for the job were there as well. You might think that there would be lots of competition and tension between the three couples vying for the job, but there wasn't. We found that we all get along quite well. They are great couples. In fact, we're now Facebook friends so we can keep up with each other. But still... you have to admit, that's a little different, right?

We were all put up in a wonderful hotel, and we were given the royal treatment all weekend. Every need we may have had was met before we needed it, and even our personal preferences were catered to. The attention to detail was remarkable.

I think it's really hard to interview for a church because when you're part of a church, it's not just a job. It affects every part of your life and your family's life. It's more important in church staffing to make sure it's a good fit than in any other occupation, I think. So I've often wondered how you can do that when you haven't had a relationship in the past, when you don't know each other at all. Now I know because this church did it so well.

Steven was given a list of assignments to prepare about a week before we arrived. These assignments were an opportunity for them to "see him in action." He had to prepare a message and speak in front of a group, lead a small group discussion, teach a basic doctrine class and lead a brainstorming session. We also were put in several interview settings where eight different people were given a chance to ask us interview questions one-on-one. We also ate and spent time with different church leaders, and they even provided social times for us to just hang-out. And finally we were able to serve in different areas of the church during service times. After all of that, I think they know us pretty well!

We don't yet know if we are the ones who are the best fit for the job or not. We hope we are, but we met the other candidates, and we know what high-caliber people they are. But there are a few things we do know.

We know:
  1. Whoever the church chooses for this job is high-quality.  The other applicants are fantastic.
  2. We were completely transparent and real. If they choose us, we know that they got as real of a glimpse into who we are as we could give.
  3. Steven gave his best. In every assignment, he gave his all, and we're happy with his preformance. We don't look back with regret on any answers that we gave or any comments that we made.
  4. If we're not offered the job, it's because we weren't the right ones for it. There are no regrets or second-guessing. If this isn't for us, God must have something different in mind that's an even better fit. If we don't get it, I'll admit, I'll probably cry; we would love to have this job. But at the end of the day, I know that God has a purpose for having us go through the process, and we'll be okay.

So, now we go back to waiting, but only until tomorrow. We're praying for the pastors and staff as they make their decision, knowing that God will certainly direct their thoughts, discussions and final choice. Our fate isn't in their hands, though. We know who's got our backs... and our fronts... and our every side.



  1. Wow Sarah and Steven, that's an amazing update. Can't wait to hear the results.

  2. I like Who's got your backs and fronts and your every sides.

  3. Good perspective. and Wow, what a weekend! They are going to a lot of trouble for this new position. and you got some new "friends" in the process. The offer for the job will be icing on the cake. :)

    love you guys!!!