Qualification - ready to die
January 16, 2008
Today—as I write—I'm searching for a VP of Development. Then comes Ajith's line: a smack on the side of the head.
Let me unwrap what I think he is saying.
Education per se is not the problem. It is what sometimes happens when people leave poverty and social/political chaos to study in societies that seem more calm, sophisticated and materially better off. Education within that experience gives a sense of accomplishment and provides a new social pedestal from which to look on life.
Now home, what drives them? What is their compelling vision? With educational days behind them, how is a call seen in the bump and grind of daily service?
How is this different from my leadership search?
The world of development (fundraising) is pressured by two realities: there are few gifted and proven fundraising leaders and too many opportunities. Market forces—in North America—today favour the person, not the organization. Personnel searches can end up in a bidding war.
Ajith's words caught my attention. Am I only focused on competence and past experience? Does the person need to have bells and whistles that speak of success elsewhere? (Although, through hard knocks of past failures, I'm gun shy to trust a neophyte whose primary claim is enthusiasm!)
Yet, what works in the long run? Cast your eye around your organization, church, mission or business and tell me who in the end really works out? Who in the final tally is the one you trust to carry the ball?
I'm not of the mind to rush to a simplistic conclusion of discounting educational experience or proven track records. Both matter a whole lot. That's not where I'm caught.
We are not well served with a person whose primary concern is compensation rather than one who is ready to die for the vision.
Here is where I may have slipped in my thinking: in recruiting in the open market, I may have unconsciously ignored the central and compelling characteristic that defines those who do well — they are willing to die for mission.
Dear Caller of those who serve, Steward of our lives and Saviour of our eternity, give me the wisdom of serpents so my world-bent heart is made smart by seeing what is really there, and dove-like wisdom so I won't miss the updrafts of Your Spirit. You called us to die, so may we do no less to those we call. Amen.
We have found that many people coming back to Sri Lanka after higher studies are not prepared for the frustration of being servants of a struggling people. They come looking for the best package. They are not ready to die.