Talking to a buddy of mine today (who is also looking for a job) and we got talking about the ridiculousness of searching for a pastoral job versus other kinds. This year was quite the experience for me as I got to see both sides of the fence – the hiring and the searching. (I don’t recommend that by the way, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice in the matter.)
Here is what we observed…
*Please note – these are generalizations. They are not necessarily indicative of my current situation. Then again, it might!
It’s okay to talk money early and often in the “secular” world, not in the pastoral search. Some of this, I understand. I definitely didn’t ‘choose’ this gig for the money. On the other hand, my kids are going to the same schools, playing the same sports, and eating the same amount of food as everyone else around us. They also like to wear clothes. It’s also not like there is a pastoral discount on gas, food, lodging, education, and recreation. It costs the same for us all.
On the third hand, a pastor’s salary is both a VALUE statement and a REALITY statement. We all spend money on what we value – same with churches. Personally, I’ve never ‘negotiated’ a salary. If I don’t like/want/can’t live on the salary, just say thanks but not interested. No need to dicker about the salary.
I’ve also learned this – the early a church introduces the ‘salary’ issue, the more likely they know it isn’t all that great of a salary. If it’s a fair wage and it really is – they’ll focus on everything else that goes into a hire. (General rule…)
Churches get away with asking a lot more personal stuff than secular jobs. We’ve been asked about our marriage, our finances, our kids, our beliefs on all sorts of issues. We’ve been asked about our opinions on some hot issues. Secular jobs – can’t touch any of that. The argument is that those kinds of issues are not job related AND the information could ‘taint’ an employer to not hiring someone who is qualified.
The reality we all know is that marriage, finances, and beliefs DO affect a person’s job performance and focus. I think employers have a right to know some of that stuff. I’m okay with all the questions we’ve been asked. I wish secular jobs had a little more freedom than what they have to do the same.
If someone leaves a company for a better position, better money, or better opportunity – it’s a ‘good move.’ If a pastor leaves a church for any of those reasons, it’s ‘abandonment.’
What is the same for both places is this – how one leaves that place will be how they are remembered. If you had 7 great years but pulled the pin on a grenade as you walked through the door – guess what? Kiss the good of the 7 years good-bye. Not smooth.
I’m sure there are more…but hey…that’s all we got to talk about.