Competencies: Worldly vs. Heavenly

Over the last five to ten years, more companies have started to rely on competencies to determine who is the right fit for a job. From the creation of the job description to what they look for in recruiting and then how they measure success of the person in the role, competencies become the crutch in which people are judged. Competencies can be a good way to identify the critical capabilities a person will need to successfully do a job. However, too many HR professionals will complicate a job with a dozen or more competencies. Simply because they can.

I was asked to build a list of core competencies for a specific job that had 50-60 similar positions across the globe. Some may call it lazy, however, I like to keep things simple. So I talked to the leaders around the world to ask them what skills were most important. Then I did a little research thanks go the internet and I came up with a list of seven key competencies which could be used to develop and grow this group of employees. It was not fancy, but everyone was bought in and it was a small enough list that each person could put focused effort to improve.

Well, it was going well until corporate decided they needed to rebuild the list based on science and other theoretical factors. They engaged a consultant and started the process of building competencies for this group of jobs from scratch. Nine months later a list of 45-50 competencies in eight or nine segments was created. They made a big deal about it and rolled it out. The irony was my simplified process produced similar results with a much simpler output that people could use. This massive effort ended up sitting on peoples shelves. But the folks in HR who did it got a great annual review because of it.

I have the honor to speak at my alma mater in their HR classes. Inevitably the students ask me what are the most important competencies companies are looking for when hiring students. It is a good question and one I have become accustom to answering. Primarily because it has not mattered what company I am with, the answer is pretty much the same. I would usually share:

  • The ability to solve problems
  • Ability to deliver results and get things done (thins is work ethic in some cultures)
  • Able to learn and adjust to the environment. So flexibility and a willingness to ask questions to get it right.
  • Bonus: I would usually throw in being accountable for your actions.

These are generally traits or competencies which will propel people to success. From entry level to the C-suite, these are consistent and it is just the degree they are used. These are the worlds competencies. What about heavenly competencies? What would those look like? What would Jesus use if He were hiring for positions? I believe there are three competencies which would transform a company if they used them.

The first one would be the ability to serve. Jesus models this concept beautifully in John 13:12-17

“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

If we are willing to serve each other, then we will be blessed. There are concepts in business called servant leadership. Many companies have tried to instill it, however too often it fails. The idea of being a servant without the foundation of Christ as Lord makes a tough sell. In the world of business, being a servant is something to be looked down on. You want to be the master. This is why using the heavenly principle of servanthood flips the world on its head. I would rather work with someone with a servant mindset than a selfish mindset.

The second heavenly competency would be love for others. The idea of love is mentioned over 700 times in the bible, with over 400 in the new testament. Reading the new testament and the ministry of Jesus we see two key themes. Faith and love. Jesus sums up the greatest commandment in Mark 12: 30-31 as, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.” 

Love makes all the difference in relationships and if we really loved people in business we would find so much more satisfaction. Instead of politics, backstabbing, gossip and double-guessing, we would give people the benefit of the doubt. We would not think about getting ahead at the expense of someone else. We would only speak life and positive words to and about others. The environment would be completely transformed.

The last competency that would be transformative is the ability to listen to God. We all have this ability, the question is whether we use it or not. Are we really tuned into the frequency God is talking? Imagine the problems we could solve if we let God tell us the answer. Imagine the products and designs we could create if we let God show us what they look like. The most creative things should be coming from Christians because we are able to tap into the Creator of the universe.

There was a company I did business with. They had a product no one else had because no one else could find a solution to a specific problem with the programming. Governments had tried, as had research institutions. No one could figure out how to build the code to make this product work the way it really needed to. This company was founded by a Christian and when they reached the dead end, the founder pulled everyone together and prayed for the answer. That night, one of the principle engineers had a dream from God that provided them the answer. The next day he shared it and sure enough, it was the breakthrough everyone had been looking for. Groups had been trying to figure this problem out for over 50 years. They just needed to ask God for the answer.

If we do this with our decisions and problems as a natural part of our day, everyone wins. I am happy to share my thoughts on how to hear God in future posts, if there is interest. Otherwise, think about the three key competencies that would be transformative to a career and a company:

  • Servanthood
  • Loving others
  • Listening to God (which is to imply we are asking for His advice)

What do you think? Thoughts?


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