Soapbox Philosophy: Would you qualify for this job opening?
by Gregory R. Norfleet · Op-Ed · November 02, 2012

Matt, a college buddy, looked back on his 17-year-old self. He had a job, a car, loved hunting and had lots of friends. He went into college, took a range of courses and started his prerequisites in the latter half of his sophomore year.

Reflecting on himself just three years earlier, he declared that despite how he may have felt like he was on top of the world, he realized how little he knew.

“Nothing,” he said with his gregarious yet sincere smile. “I knew nothing.”

I agreed with that for myself. I was amazed how much information college could cram into my head, and how much it made me aware of what knowledge still remained for me to learn. And despite taking a class called “Moral Decisions,” one thing I knew was that I was horrible at personal interaction, especially when someone challenged me.

No, really, sarcasm does not help.

Here’s an actual job description I saw recently — consider whether you qualify. I’m going to paraphrase so as not to give away the position they are trying to fill: Must know how to teach, with years of close experience with the subject. Must care more about people than profit. Good character — loyal, respectable, gentle and hospitable. Strong references required. Interview with entire family necessary.

And, no, they are not hiring a pastor.

Obviously this is not a government job — imagine the civil rights lawsuits — but who wouldn’t like to see this type of person run for political office?

I couldn’t help but think of the race between Dick Schwab and Bobby Kaufmann and the letters to the editor regarding the “broken beer bottle mailer.” You can sum up the letters with a few questions:

1. On Kaufmann’s public intoxication arrest: Is it more important that this charge is labeled a “simple misdemeanor” by an objective government standard, or it is more important that many in society believe being caught “drunk” in any situation is taboo for anyone who wants to hold public office?

2. Schwab, who is 60, obviously has more business experience, even though Kaufmann, 27, also runs his own company. But does the mailer, which paints Kaufmann in a negative light, tell us something about Schwab’s character? And if so, how does this particular character trait compare favorably or unfavorably to Kaufmann having a few too many just weeks before filing to run for state House?

3. Kaufmann has, in interviews with the media, admitted to the arrest, but criticized Schwab for wrong and misleading information. However, letter-writers noted that Kaufmann has not used his own advertising to personally attack Schwab. Is Kaufmann naively risking his party’s chances of retaining a House seat, or taking a political high road that speaks positively to voters?

Note that in the above job description, there is only one “skill” necessary — teaching the subject. The rest talks about character. Flip this around and consider: What jobs are out there that we WISH had such high standards for applicants?

I mean besides journalists.

OK, journalists. And lawyers, insurance salesmen, used car dealers, IRS agents, TSA screeners — any profession for which entire joke books exist. On the serious side, how about fathers, too?

Anyway, the job description is for a church elder, one of a team of people who has to run the church, which includes everything from managing money to counseling couples to caring for the sick and poor. For more details, you can look it up at 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

No, I’m not saying our elected officials ought to all be Christians. But there’s nothing objectionable about the qualities listed there.

Perhaps it is a good standard for anyone who has yet to make up their mind on a political candidate.

Or just themselves.

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