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What job applicants can learn from a group of church planters

March 3rd, 2009 · No Comments

Several years ago, I met a group of church planters. They all came from a church in Southern Illinois. The pastor at the church had a calling to plant a new church in the Pacific Northwest. He asked his church members to join him if they felt they received the call.

More than fifty people decided to join the pastor. The move was not easy — there were a number of families with kids. The cost of living in Southern Illinois was much lower than the Pacific Northwest. Folks needed to sell their houses, found new places to live, and got new jobs.

When I met them, they just moved to the Pacific Northwest for a few months. When I heard about their stories, I asked them whether they all got new jobs.

Apparently, most of them had no jobs when they made the move — they made the move first. They told me that their pastor "joked" – in worst case scenario, “we could all go to work at McDonald.”

Be quite honest, I was quite skeptical about what they were doing at the time. They only had a limited amount of money from their former church to help settle down and plant a new church. Most of them were struggling to find jobs. Some of them were doing menial part-time jobs. I thought it was crazy for them to move to a new place without getting jobs first. 🙂

Several years later, I met these folks again. Their church has grown into several hundreds people. The original planters have all settled down and got jobs. Some of them had to "re-invent" themselves, and got jobs such as postal workers. But, things worked out.

Reflecting on my conversations with the church planters, I learn several lessons that I think are relevant and valuable to anyone who is looking for a job:

  1. These people had a higher goal than just getting a job. Their goal was to plant a new church. Getting a job was just a means to support themselves. I think having a lofty goal kept them going when things were not going well and put job search into perspective. I’m not suggesting that everyone should become religious. But, having a faith or goal in something that you passionately believe in will help you survive difficult times. 
  2. They have a community. These 50+ church planters had their backs against the wall. They were in this thing together. They encouraged each other and helped other. If you’re looking for a job, it’s very important that you have a small group of people who can listen to you, help you, and encourage you.
  3. "We could all go to work at McDonald". I love this line. There will always be jobs out there, but the question is whether one is willing to put ego aside and take the job. I think for these church planters, because they had higher goals, it became less important what job they did. They just wanted to make the ends meet, so that they could spend time building their church. I’m not suggesting that we should all apply for McDonald jobs. But, during hard time, we need to consider our priorities — a job might not be the best option for your career or it might be a step down. But, if it can feed the family, take the job and stop the bleeding. You can always find a better job later.

Excellent resources for job search:

Tags: Beat Recession · Recruiting & Job Hunting

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