All on the Line: On Vulnerability and Why I May Not Be a Job Interview Role-Model

Full to the brim with emotion, I began to walk. I knew where I was going, though I knew not the outcome. It was a dark, brisk, October evening, and I was headed to a pastor's house for a job interview with the church elders. The possibility of this job felt like an answer to prayer. Finally, I may be able to do something I know I love, with people I know and love. The possibility of what questions may be asked terrified me. As I walked on, the interior battle raged on. A battle raging between hope and fear.

With each step, I was one step closer to the hope of a new future. I was on my way to talk with people I already knew, about a church community I love, and the possibility that I could inhabit the space in a new way. With each step, my fear of being exposed, rejected, or misunderstood grew louder. Why was I afraid? I'm different. I know we don't agree on certain things. I may not only miss a great job opportunity, but I may worsen relationships with people I care about. Is it possible for me to both be honest and accepted?

Breathing in heavily and feeling the sharp sting of cold air in my lungs, I prayed something like this: "God, I know I'm nervous, even scared. I want to lay it all on the line. I want to be honest, transparent and vulnerable to these guys. I really do want this job, but I wouldn't feel right if I thought I got it without being totally honest. Help me to be true, to myself, to you and to them. Guide the conversation, and keep me in peace. I know my hopes are already up for this job, and I will face whatever happens. Let's do this." Less jittery and more confident, I arrived at the house.

The elders were already there. I loved these men. Most of them I have known since childhood, but hadn't seen for a least a year or two. We exchanged warm hugs, cursory conversation and a desire to connect more. Then we started. Jumping right into questions, the elders asked me about my heart and vision, about current church involvement, how I would practically deal with the demands of the ministry. I felt that I easily and cogently answered these questions from my heart. I was feeling confident and connected. Then we changed gears. One of the men transitioned and said we were going to go item-by-item through the church's statement of faith. This is what I was afraid of. My fight/flight reflex kicked in. I felt my face become hot, and adrenaline start flooding my system. This was the moment of choice. Line by line, question by question, I answered as best I could why I didn't agree with the statement of faith. My answers were clunky, complicated. I caught most everyone in the room by surprise. It was just a routine check-up, right? This is simply the part where we make sure that we're all on the same page... But we weren't. Not in my mind. I talked about my study of hell, my issues with eternal conscious torment, and on the multiple perspectives about hell within Christian faith. Stares. Concerned looks. Questions. I shared the views I had on same-sex relationships. Stares. Concerned looks. Questions. I shared some of my views on pluralism and what the significance of Jesus' life, death and resurrection is.  Stares. Concerned looks. Questions. I talked about spiritual gifts and tongues, and with the exception of one or two people in the room...  Stares. Concerned looks. Questions. This wasn't going well. 

We followed various tangents of thought for a bit, and finished up that part of the interview. We brought it back around to some practical questions, and that was just about it. I felt relieved that I had been so transparent, so open, but felt the sting that I may have just shot my opportunities in the foot. That dichotomy plagued me as I left the house so the elders could "Well, Jesus, at least I was honest. You know my heart. I hope that they heard it. Whatever happens, I'm in your hands." After much time being pensive, I heard some news.

I was excited when I found out that there would be a follow-up interview, albeit surprised. I didn't know whether or not I had changed any of the views of the people I met with, but I knew I had changed. I had faced my fears of rejection and inadequacy. I had opened up what felt like deep, dark secrets about my faith, my beliefs. I had risked losing out on a great opportunity for the sake of integrity. I stopped hiding, and started sharing. I had begun to cement a new, positive line of thought in place of the old: Being vulnerable is anything but easy, and it is a powerful force for the one who shares and the ones who receive. Whatever would come of the opportunities that lay before me, I would not compromise. I would be true to myself, to God, and to others.

Benjamin FaderComment