Searches are funny things. They are like jobs, or marriage, or where you’re planning to live, or anything else – picturing it is both clarifying and confusing. In all these things, picturing what will be motivates you toward your goal. However, the goal is never like the picture, and at some point you realize, the picture was always too general to be real. The picture never existed. There is only the real job, actual man or woman, physical location, and best candidate. They are never what you pictured because the thing you pictured never was. And this is why real decision about big things are never easy to make, and even harder to live out.
I want to take a few minutes to explain in a little detail why I think Lloyd Biddle was the right choice and a very good choice to be our pastor of development, and why I am personally glad to have him on our staff team. Some things are obvious. Lloyd is committed to High Point, having already been a member, having served as an elder and presently as the vice chair of our elder board. Lloyd has taught Adult Bible fellowships, lead small groups, preached, and taught some of our new members classes. He not only fits our culture, which is really important, but he also has been teaching it to others. Chemistry with our culture is always a huge question mark on any external candidate, and this is the huge strength of strong internal candidates.
The logical down side to internal candidates is they are not as fresh to the new environment they are coming to change and lead. One of the things we asked on the search committee and the elder board is whether Lloyd could really come with fresh eyes and see the change necessary and lead with really fresh material. Do we lose the benefit of new blood and new eyes for the benefit of good organizational chemistry and culture? I don’t think so. Because Lloyd has served as an assistant pastor at another church, and more importantly, has had a very intense career in a strong business culture, I believe that we will still get nourishment from very different organizational and systematic thinking. Lloyd not only has a Masters in theology from Wheaton College, he also has an MBA from the Kellogg school of business at Northwestern University. His diversified education and his business experience has caused him to read and be influenced by a completely different group of people than myself, or anyone on our staff. Therefore, what you might call the “genetic diversity” on the staff would be increased significantly by Lloyd’s addition.
In short, I believe with this candidate we get fresh eyes, access to a broader body of knowledge among our pastoral leaders, while not giving up the extremely important category of organizational identity and chemistry. In this sense, I believe Lloyd is an ideal candidate.
SPECIFIC CANDIDATE FOR A SPECIFIC JOB
There is a second reason I believe Lloyd is an ideal candidate. That is, he is the right specific candidate for this specific job. I personally, the search committee, and the elder board were all drawn to Lloyd as a candidate and simultaneously emotionally puzzled about being drawn to Lloyd as a candidate. It’s always hard to evaluate somebody you already know and trust for a position. It’s hard to know which emotions to accept in which emotions to push back when you are judging a friend. I spent a couple of months trying to figure out exactly how to be completely rational about this choice – to neither favor Lloyd because he was my friend, nor penalize him because of it. But one of the things we all ended up agreeing on was that the reason Lloyd emerged as our top candidate is not because he is the best general associate pastor candidate – but because he is the best candidate for the specific job designed to focus on development.
Many of our candidates were very good general associate pastors. They had a heart for people. They liked to preach and teach God’s word. They loved the local church. They wanted to be there at critical moments in people’s lives. They were very good general shepherds. However, that was not the position we designed. What High Point Church needs at this moment – especially in the next 3 to 5 years – is someone who can develop our systems and our people. We need somebody who specifically excels in areas of leadership – both organizationally and personally. These characteristics make up 80% of the job this person needs to do.
When we looked at our battery of candidates in this light, only a few were even clearly competent. Most candidates have no experience in multi-staff churches. Almost none could articulate even the idea of what they would do to develop systems and people throughout the church. Others focused on how we would need to hire a lot more staff to fulfill our vision – imagining us becoming a far more staff centered church. This is something I want to move away from, not toward. It didn’t take very long for our list of candidates to run very short. Ultimately, we found a few candidates we believed could develop people – but in my view, only one we believed could develop BOTH systems and people. I found only one person gifted enough in structural development to develop us as an organization, yet people centered enough to help me equip large numbers of servants functioning as leaders and laborers in the local and global mission of the Gospel- and to bring these two together. I, the search committee, and the elder board all came to the obvious realization that our internal candidate was the best one of our many candidates.
DIRECTNESS AND CANDOR
Third, there is the issue of my personality. If you haven’t noticed I am a very direct person. I am very task oriented. I’m pretty focused on certain things. Some people really like that. They like my directness. They like my candor. They like that I’m always trying to help make them better. And these people are also willing to offer back directness, candor and engagement. Our meetings are lively, people speak their minds and though we are careful not to unnecessarily attack people or hurt their feelings – I expect people to be thick-skinned enough for us to make good arguments, deal with the real issue for the right reasons, and stay on topic. I’ve worked for 2 ½ years to build and engaged, team focused staff culture. We needed someone who could fit into that culture and build it rather than divide it. I needed to find someone who was not emotionally high maintenance, didn’t struggle with significant insecurity, could metabolize both constructive criticism and receiving encouragement, as well as someone who could switch back and forth easily between focusing on tasks and focusing on people. I also needed someone who was willing to listen as well as talk, and who would be respected by the staff.
About five candidates of our final 12 needed to be eliminated on the basis of interpersonal chemistry. Three or four of these eliminated themselves. They were good men, but they weren’t going to work well with me or with our team. I believe that Lloyd was one of the best of our candidates on this front as well. And the importance of this third reason should not be underestimated. Finding candor, humility and an absence of insecurity in one person with the right qualifications is no easy errand.
Lastly, if you are still puzzled about how I’ve described the associate position, I would encourage you to watch the vision video we published a few months back. Part of how it was put together was to show exactly what sort of person we were going to seek in this position. That video may clear up a number of your questions, and make our choice of Lloyd as the associate candidate clear.
In case you’re wondering how I “really” feel. This IS how I really feel. Like any team that takes on a new player, I don’t know all the implications of Lloyd being on the team. But I’m excited to have him on the team, and I believe that he is going to be able to make very important and specifically needed contributions to High Point over the critical phase of the next few years.