The Vacation Question


Yesterday a young minister called me to ask my advice and counsel. He is looking to bring on another minister for a key staff position. They were interviewing throughout the weekend.  They had gone over position description and key objectives for the ministry.  They had talked through the mission and vision of the church. They discussed theology and ministry at length.  They shared their views and practice of personal prayer life and key thoughts about marriage and family.  They have driven around mission area. They had the hard ‘money talk’. They even prayed about this new assignment together.  Everything seemed to be right.

I said, “You don’t sound convinced that he’s the right guy for the position.”


“You’re right,” he said.  “I can’t put my finger on it.  I don’t know how to get at the question…but there is something I can’t identify that is not right.”

I said to him, “Ask yourself one question: would I want to go on vacation with this guy?”

There was silence on the phone.  He said, “That’s it…I don’t think so.”

“Well, if you are going to be working closely with him, you’d better really, really like him enough to travel across the country on a road trip together.”(hypothetically)

The “Vacation Question” as I call it, never lets me down.  It gets to the issue of chemistry.  It zeroes in on a very subjective topic and gives it an easy answer. How high is the likability index? It needs to be pretty high to make a good call on someone you are going to work with closely.

I have made some really good staff calls in my ministry…and some really bad ones too. Most anyone who works in Human Resources will tell you that there are no silver bullets.  Our recent experience with a search firm (Vanderbloemen Search Group) has been successful and rewarding. Still, over the years I have learned to ask that one single question…and very seldom has it let me down.

And if all the other issues are right…and if the answer to the ‘Vacation Question’ is yes, then pack your bags; or rather, the new guy should pack his bags.  You have a good change of making the right call.

Published on

March 11, 2016


David Roseberry

David Roseberry leads the nonprofit ministry, LeaderWorks. He was the founding rector of Christ Church, Plano, Texas, and is the author of many books. He lives in Plano with his wife, Fran.

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