In a recent Entreleadership podcast, Dave Ramsey talked about his hiring principles and process. Some of the bullet points:

  • The #1 hiring mistake is not taking enough time in the interview/hiring process
  • Every year we increase the time we spend in hiring and every year our turnover goes down and productivity goes up
  • Some of our people were interviewed 10 times over a period of 6 months.
  • Sometimes we hire someone in less than 30 days but that’s very unusual.
  • If you don’t spend enough time in hiring someone, you’ll eventually spend much more time in dealing with their short-comings, and hiring their replacements

Ramsey then spoke of the two essential Christian characteristics of every hire:

  • Opportunistic motivation: People who are fired up and excited about working really hard for a growing and expanding business.
  • Philosophical motivation: People who see this work as a Christian ministry of hope to needy people.

“If people just buy into one of those, we’re in trouble,” warns Ramsey. And what’s the most common missing element? “Most get the philosophical motivation but not the opportunistic.”

Some want to work in Christian ministries but think that means work rate and work standards don’t matter so much as in the private sector. Ramsey tells potential hires: “We work hard, really hard. We view part of our spiritual walk to be excellent in the marketplace. If you can’t cope with Superbowl level of play you aren’t going to be happy here.”

The podcast goes on to a fascinating interview with Clint Smith, CEO of, a business that helps 40,000 business around the world with email marketing. His hiring process has 14 steps!

Churches, Christian ministries, Christian employers and business people, we have much to learn!

Listen to the podcast on iTunes here (it’s about #9 on the list).

  • Adrian Tribe

    Hi David, I would be very interested indeed to hear about how you think the lengthy interview process highlighted here should/can be applied in the context of a church looking for a full-time pastor. We (in my experience in the UK at least) tend to shy away from what might be regarded as a rather secular business-like approach, but perhaps if we were more rigorous and had things like probation periods etc, then perhaps we would hear fewer horror stories of pastoral appointments going awry?

    • David Murray

      You’re right, Adrian. It’s quite different in the UK. However, just because certain procedures have been used first in the secular field, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use them to some degree. In many ways, it’s just common sense, isn’t it! I agree with you that more rigorous procedures would help churches and pastors avoid a lot of problems. And that in no way takes away from the need for prayer and a sense of calling. In fact a wise use of helpful procedures can be prayerfully used to deepen the sense of calling on both sides – congregation and pastor.

      • Adrian Tribe

        Thank you for those further comments David.

  • Wesley

    This is useful information for sure and absolutely applicable to our churches. Using principles of business in order to hire good candidates should not be conflated with acting like a business. I would hope that the moral, spiritual, and prayerful elements that should come along with any church would be notable and evident distinctions from a business-like model of hiring.

    • David Murray

      “Using principles of business in order to hire good candidates should not be conflated with acting like a business.” I like that.

      • Matt Beatty

        Easier said than done, I think. Most (not all) churches bring an “efficiency” model to the people and – as you know – shepherding souls is one of the most inefficient things you could choose to do. I can change someone’s habits much faster than I can (with the Lord’s initiative/help/Spirit) change the heart and it’s affections.

        • Wesley

          Agreed. How we define “Success” needs to be different than how a business would define it. A pastor faithfully shepherding a congregation of 50 for his whole time at a church is not a “failure” b/c it didn’t grow to 5000. I still say that we can use principles that we see in business viz. b/c all that is true is God’s truth; the business world didn’t ‘come up’ with those truths, God did.

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