Credibility. Credibility. CREDIBILITY!!!
Sorry to choke your inbox. I'm trying to blog a few times a week and not more than once a day, and two days this week I've hit you twice. However, I've got a bit of a fuss to make to those of you who either preach and lead or who allow people to preach or lead.
DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE ABOUT SOMEONE'S CLAIMS ABOUT THEMSELVES!!
I am personally fed up with the number of times when someone has risen in the esteem of the multitudes, especially among Christian preacher and leader circles, only to be brought down because they've fluffed their background. It's beyond imaging why we keep letting this happen.
For those of you, like myself, who are meandering your way through church ministry, do not fake your background. Be honest. Is it fair that the church with the nice parsonage won't consider you without a seminary degree? Maybe not. But if you don't have one, don't fake it. If you haven't finished it, say so. Be clear. Be abundantly clear. Put "CURRENT STUDENT" in bold or something on your resume. Make it part of your personal narrative. Use it as a sermon illustration. If you haven't got a Ph.D. or D.Min. and will never pursue one, don't be afraid of that. Say so. If they are led by the Spirit to want to call you anyway, they will do so.
If you are a vanilla life story, born and raised in Baptist churches, never all that bad, never all that good, guess what? You are what the vast majority of your church will be. Don't add in troubles you never had or experiences you didn't have. Don't exaggerate. Be humble, be modest. Not falsely modest, but modest. And don't let people assume your grandeur when you know they're jumping to an unreal conclusion. For example, I've preached in 6 states and 2 countries. 1 of the countries is the United States. My first sermon was to a crowd of 8 in Delaware on a youth mission trip. Now, what am I doing claiming 6 states and 2 countries? Allowing someone to think I'm greater than I am.
And don't get grouchy when someone questions or wants to check your background. You don't want them to pull your credit, that's fine. There's lots of reasons to discuss that. But if someone needs a transcript or wants to check your criminal record, then you better be willing to let them. If you can, make sure you are noticeable as you do school and your various activities. That way someone will remember you were there.
Now, to those of you on Trustee Boards or Search Committees: be proactive and willing to spend some money. Ask questions. Be willing to offend. Pay for transcripts and background checks. Follow up on questions. Call and verify experiences. Ask for documentation.
IF YOU HAVE DOUBTS, GET ANSWERS BEFORE YOU PUT SOMEONE IN A POSITION OF RESPONSIBILITY.
And when questions come later that you didn't think of, be quick to demand answers.
Why? Because it is far better to address these things on the front end than to have to clean up the damage to yourself, your organization, and anyone else after it's over.
Check to make sure you're using quality wood and that the fence is up. It's much easier than having to gather the herd again.