Leaps of faith

Malcolm Gladwell of The New Yorker writes:

"There are certain jobs where almost nothing you can learn about candidates before they start predicts how they’ll do once they’re hired. So how do we know whom to choose in cases like that?"

The article focuses on quarterbacks and teachers, but what of priests? How can you tell ahead of time whether a candidate will succeed?

Comments (3)

It takes a good judge of character. When I and others were "screened" 49 years ago, The Rt. Rev. Henry Baker interviewed each of us once. We went for testing and a psychiatric interview, but that was all. All ten in my class had long, honorable, and sometimes distinguished ministries. Baker was a good judge of character.

Whoops, slight omission: it was The Rt. Rev. Richard Henry Baker.

Michael Lewis' book "Moneyball", about the success of Billy Beane and the Oakland A's, provides an interesting counterpoint to Gladwell. Lewis points out that Beane succeeded with a low budget team because most baseball scouts looked at the wrong statistics about potential players.

I prefer Lewis to Gladwell on this point as my beloved Red Sox are disciples of "sabermetrics" and are quite skilled at finding diamonds in the rough like Dustin Pedroia and the "Greek god of walks" Kevin Youkilis.

However, given the limited amount of research as to what traits and skills make for effective clergy, I doubt we could successfully argue whether "Outliers" or "Moneyball" might provide a more accurate analogy.

My hunch is that there is some truth in both approaches, but without the requisite research, we are probably safer sticking to sports. What would the priestly equivalent of ERA or OBP be?

- Steve Ayres

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space