Laslo Bock is the vice president in charge of hiring and managing personnel for Google. He gave an interview for The Times that has gotten a lot of attention. He pointed out that, though a college education and good grades certainly do not hurt young people looking for a job in Google, they are looking for other things when they hire. As he went down his 5 point list of hiring attributes, I started thinking how these relate to missions and missionaries. Lets look at Google’s five hiring attributes.
(1) Learning ability: Don’t get me wrong, my angle is not to point out something that I think I have and others should have as well. I believe we should be learners. And I believe that a good learner has a good chance of making it in the mission field. The hard truth is that sometimes we refuse to learn.
(2) Leadership: Even here it surprised me how well this relates with Biblical church planting missions. Bock said that they are not looking for the traditionally defined type of leader. This is what he says,
“What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”
The missionary with the Ephesians 4 approach is always working as hard as he can to be the kind of leader that relinquishes power. As missionaries we need to train others to do the work of the ministry and, then, have the trust to step away. Our trust, by the way, is in the Lord. Not in the people we have trained.
(3) Humility and ownership: This is the attribute of the person that will have the confidence to go in a try to do something about a problem. At the same time, this person has the ability to step back, when someone else shows up that is better equipped to deal with that situation. I can see that as a plus in the mission field. The missionary is not the one with all the answers. How many times has a missionary stepped in when he shouldn’t have, only to make things worse? I know I have done this. We should look around to see if the Lord has someone better equipped to deal with that particular situation. If I am the only one in sight, I should take ownership and trust that the Lord is powerful to use what little I have to offer.
(4) Intellectual humility: This was the attribute that really got my attention. We are proud people. Our flesh has a hard time saying “I don’t know”. We have to stop acting like we know it all. If we don’t have this kind of humility, we will never ask questions. Asking questions is an essential part in learning. You will not survive in the mission field if you don’t get rid of your pride and start asking questions. Lots of questions. This is what Bock actually said,
“They, instead, commit the fundamental attribution error, which is if something good happens, it’s because I’m a genius. If something bad happens, it’s because someone’s an idiot or I didn’t get the resources or the market moved…”
Aren’t we like that some times? It is never our fault! We need to start admitting we are wrong and we need to start saying “I don’t know”. Then, we need to do our best to learn. People are not expecting missionaries that never make mistakes. People know missionaries make mistakes. What the people you’re trying to reach can’t stand is a missionary that never admits when he is wrong and never asks any questions or tries to learn.
(5) Expertise: The people at Google have put this last on purpose. Of course, if they are looking to hire for a highly technical position, they will make sure that the person has the necessary knowledge. But, Bock says that usually the humble learner will come to the same solution as the expert.
We are all flawed human beings. We are all in need of the grace of God. We have not arrived yet. God is not done with us. We need to continue to grow. Intelectual humility is very much needed if you want to be a growing committed follower of Christ.