Me and my awesome family are on staycation this week, so I’m reposting some of my favorite past posts. This one, from September 2009, reminded me of some great insight for ministry from the retail world:
Since leaving a position as pastor of a local church this summer, I’ve been hunting for work wherever I thought it could be found. Recently, I was provided with a job at a retail store, but this wasn’t the first retail interview I had experienced as of late (a couple of interviews led to job offers which needed ‘very open availability’–read “Sunday-Saturday 8AM-10PM available”–with very low pay and no guarantee of more than five or eight hours a week).
But as I’ve gone through the process of interviewing for and engaging with a job much different than my last one, I’ve been struck by some of the lessons/practices which could be used by the Church in its pursuit of invading the world with Christ’s love & power. I’ll share some of them here in between the next few Joshua posts. Here’s the observation for today–simple and obvious, but worth mentioning:
Discern Stengths and Abilities
One of the jobs I interviewed for was CartBoy (not the industry term) for a popular big-box home improvement retailer. You may recall earlier the mention of little pay and few hours and, as you can imagine, “CartBoy” is a position that mostly requires interacting with shopping carts. Still, this particular retailer knew that even CartBoys and CartGirls can strengthen or undermine a positive customer experience. So, before the interview for a low-paid, very part-time CartPerson position could be completed, I was assigned another employee who would observe my interactions with customers on the salesfloor.
Either I would be comfortable and able to engage customers or I wouldn’t function well within the structure and focus the organization had. Rather than wait to find out if I had no personality, the store mananger didn’t want the interview to go forward without a sense of my strengths and abilities.
You know what they didn’t check? My knowledge of pushing carts. Cart-pushing technique–and, oh yes, there is a technique–can be taught. Chemistry with the customer can’t. The store could have just settled for a guy or girl who was willing to push a bunch of carts, but the skill was less important than preserving the purpose of the store: to serve the consumer.
The lesson here: just because someone has a skill doesn’t mean they are right for a given position or service opportunity. We can teach whatever skill we need; but finding the right people and getting them in place is harder work. If we ignore this lesson, though, we end up with burnt out, tired, frustrated people with hearts of gold… when all they needed was the opportunity to fulfil their purpose and that of the church in a way that can’t be taught but is incredibly valuable.