A little-known carpenter, in three years, was able to establish a global, life-saving, world-changing mission that would remain in place two millenniums after his death. How is that possible?

It was possible because he possessed the spirit of the living God and he was single-minded in his pursuit of God’s will and purpose for his life. And because he didn’t work alone. Yes, he spent his formative years alone studying and hearing from God so he had a firm foundation. Yes, he regularly spent time alone with God throughout his ministry. But when he was ready to achieve scale in his mission, he pulled together a team of fishermen and tax collectors to help him, and together they healed the sick and raised the dead.

The hiring-for-scale piece makes sense – we can’t go it alone if we want to grow, we need to bring other people on board so we don’t burn out. But the choosing-fishermen-and-tax-collectors part of the story is curious and seems counterintuitive to me. Like, why wouldn’t he go for priests and PR reps? What would fishermen know about talking to sinners and healing sick people? How could tax collectors be trusted to share the good news and be respected by their audience?

As an expert in the counterintuitive, Jesus was purposeful and unconventional in his recruitment practices. He knew his message was different from what the experts were preaching and his miracles would speak (and spread) for themselves. That meant he didn’t need priests or a PR team. He needed a team that believed what he believed and trusted him enough to follow his lead. When he said, “…from now on you will fish for people…they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” (Luke 5:10-11 NIV)

Jesus’ first team members believed in him as a leader worth following and they believed in his mission – and that was pretty much his only requirement of them at the beginning. He would teach them everything else they needed along the way.  

If you’re considering hiring, congratulations! This is an exciting stage in your journey and it means you are going from strength to strength and your business or your company is ready to scale up. When making your recruitment and hiring decisions, have you asked yourself in all seriousness, “Who would Jesus hire (wwjh)?”

Reading about how Jesus called his first disciples leads me to believe that Jesus looked for attitude, not just experience, and potential, not just skill. What would our businesses or teams look like if we did the same?

Attitude not just experience

Hiring for attitude over experience means that if you have two candidates with equal experience, you select the one whose attitude most closely aligns with the culture of your organization or your own values and work ethic.

Our individual business needs and ideas are diverse enough that I can’t list the exact attitudes to look for in potential new hires. A few that stand out for me from Jesus’ disciples are; they accepted and believed Jesus’ mission and what he said (John 17:8), they were loyal (17:12), and they stood out from the crowd (17:16). Before you recruit and hire your first or next employee, spend some time reading about the people Jesus recruited, studying their individual attitudes, and deciding which of their characteristics you would most highly value in your team.

Potential not just skill

If you have the vision to hire for potential over skill, it means that once candidates satisfy the basic skill requirements of the job, you seek to imagine and understand how much someone could contribute to your mission rather than getting stuck on what extra skills they have today. The most unlikely appointment in the New Testament became the man who authored half of the books published in it!  

Here was his resume:

“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” (Acts 9:1NIV)

And here was his potential as proclaimed over him by the Lord:

“This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name…” (Acts 9:15NIV)

You’re probably not dealing with such extremes – so be open-minded and forward-looking. Of course you can’t spend your entire day actively teaching and training new hires – but you can lead by example as you undertake your responsibilities and direct them in theirs.

One final note for the hiring process; in James 1:19 we are taught to be quick to listen and slow to speak. As entrepreneurs and leaders, we love to talk about our mission. If someone asks us an open-ended question about our organization or future plans, we can talk a lot. In great detail. Over a long period of time. It’s that same passion that keeps us focused. But when it comes to hiring, all that talking and passion could stand in the way of us fully understanding and assessing job candidates. We first need to listen to them.

As a banker I used to lend my bank’s money to small and medium businesses. This meant I needed to fully understand the business model, management team, and industry so I could assess the risks involved in lending to each particular business. It was essentially a research and listening role. Only once I had a full view of the business could I assess if it met our risk appetite and offer the owner an appropriate financing solution at an agreeable rate.

A hiring decision is similar to a lending decision, except as an entrepreneur or leader you are investing money you are responsible for. You need to be comfortable that the candidate is qualified, meets your ‘attitude and potential’ ideals discussed above, understands your vision, and can demonstrate positive contribution results. You can’t do any of these things if you’re talking.

Any candidate can make you feel like you’ve had a great interview with them if they just nod and listen because you will feel heard. But if you see your hiring role as a candidate research role and if you are quick to listen, you have the capacity to observe, assess, use your intuition, sleep on it, pray about it, fully understand how best to place the candidate, not interrupt, not get swept away by emotions, and then make an appropriate selection and bespoke offer.

As you embark on your hiring journey, remember that God can work with anything, and consider hiring for attitude and potential the way He does. Remember that as leaders we are primarily responsible for the success of our mission, and this includes making wise hiring decisions. Let’s try to emulate Jesus as interviewers and employers; let’s be purposeful, unconventional, inspiring, trustworthy, quick to listen, and slow to speak.

If you’re thinking about expanding your business, team or ministry, it pays to work hard during the hiring process. What attitude and potential are you looking for in a new hire? How do you define it in words so you can discover it in a person?

Danielle Voisin
Danielle Voisin

Danielle is an author, entrepreneur and event designer. She loves afternoon tea, weddings, and finding the perfect gifts for her favorite people. Her mission is to hire and train the unemployed, and to help women joyfully celebrate life. Danielle was a corporate banker for years and has lived and worked in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

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