How to Get Hired as a Giant Killer

by Andy Wood on April 4, 2009

in Ability, Enlarging Your Capacity, Exploring the Possibilities, Life Currency, LV Cycle

job-applicationSome of the rules have changed.

  • Time Magazine, in it’s provocative “Ten Ideas Changing the World Right Now,” reports that having a job is cool again.  Rather than regarding employment as a necessary evil to be escaped as soon as possible, jobs are now considered an asset.  (Nothing like losing something to recognize its worth, I guess).
  • Someone just told me about his father, who for eight years tried to make a go of his home-based business and now, in his 60s, realizes the need for an employer.  He’s finding it difficult.
  • My favorite job/career-hunting book, What Color is Your Parachute?, which has been updated annually since 1970, was back on the best-seller list in December.

So with the new demand for paying day-jobs and the shortening supply, I thought it might be helpful offer some strategies for improving your chances.  Let me hasten to say that I didn’t make these up; they came directly from the resume of a guy in the Bible.

Everybody knows the story of David, who killed the giant and eventually became king of Israel.  (By the way, have you seen NBC’s modern version, “Kings”?)   But few people know the inside story of how David got a job in Saul’s court in the first place.

Here’s the back story.  Saul, the king of Israel, had fallen out of favor with the Lord because of his compromised obedience.  He began to be terrorized by what the Bible calls “an evil spirit from God.”  Not sure what the king’s companions were seeing, but Saul was agitated and upset, putting it mildly.

The solution?  “Let’s find a musician.”  Specifically a harpist.  The reasoning was that when the king became kooky, the musician could mellow him.

I’m not making this up.

One of Saul’s young assistants had a suggestion for someone to fit the job description.  Remember, they’re looking for a harpist:

I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him (1 Samuel 16:18).

As the story goes, David went from string-plucking shepherd to the king’s armor bearer.  Why?  This is important:  Because with all our talk about opportunities in this culture, our greatest opportunities grow out of our character.

Here are six qualities that commended David to Saul, and eventually presented him with his greatest opportunity ever:

1.  Excellence.  Be good at what you do.

I don’t know how many harp players Israel had in those days.  Maybe they were a dime a dozen; maybe they were rare.  Regardless, all of David’s other attributes and credentials would have been useless had he not been skillful at what he did.  He honed his craft.  He practiced when everybody else was horsing around.  He turned “above average” into “amazing.”

Let me be clear.  Excellence makes you exceptional, but it won’t always make you popular.  Mediocre people, and the many causes and organizations that encourage them, jealously attack those who stand out because they’re skilled.  It’s human nature, and the Shepherd of Israel wasn’t immune.  He became as hated as he was loved.  That’s why you also need…

2.  Courage.  Do the right thing, regardless of your feelings.

Since when does a guy who serenades sheep need to be a “mighty man of valor?”  Since he was given the responsibility of protecting animals from lions and bears.  In his run-up to the battlefield, David explained to Saul that he had already gone hand-to-hand with both.  He pulled living lambs from the jaws of hungry beasts and lived to tell about it.

Courage doesn’t mean stupid.  Why did David kill a bear?  Because the bear… was there! Why did he kill the lion?  Because the lion was threatening the sheep.  David wasn’t a brainless daredevil who cruised the wilderness in search of adventure.  He was a guy who took massive action when the situation called for it, even if his fears were screaming to run for the hills.  That’s why courage is always informed by…

3.  Principle.  Have a cause you’re willing to fight for.

Man of war.  Sounds a bit, I don’t know, uncivilized, doesn’t it?  Maybe.  But this doesn’t mean David was always fighting somebody.  What it does mean is that David was a man of principle, willing to stand, to fight, and yes, to die for his cause.  One thing is certain – when the Philistines were drawn up in battle array, he wasn’t in an office or press room somewhere, wringing his hands and whining, “Why do they hate us so much?”

If skill and courage don’t make you stand apart from the crowd, principle surely will.  In an age of situational this and postmodern that, it seems the only thing most people want to take a stand over is their own comfort or lifestyle.  That’s why, when an employer or opportunity maker finds out something drives you besides money or pleasure, and that there are some things you just won’t sell your soul for, they will want you on their team.  But causes must be guided by…

4.  Discretion.  Be wise with your words.

ks106424You want to create opportunity for yourself?  Shut up.  Speak up. And know when to do both.  David was prudent with his speech, and for a young man, that is rare.  He understood that “a gentle answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1).  He understood “there is a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).  He understood that “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21), and chose life!

My dad used to have this plaque in his office that said something like, “Make sure your brain is in gear before you put your mouth in motion.”  You don’t have to be a spin doctor to use words well.  But you do have to be aware of the significance and power of your speech.  Be credible – keep your promises.  Be trustworthy – keep your secrets.  Be brief – keep your listeners.  Be honest – keep your character.

5.    Appearance.  Look your best at all times.

If you know anything about shepherds and their reputations among the locals, let’s just say you didn’t often hear “shepherd” and “good-looking” in the same sentence.  But David was no ordinary shepherd.  More than just naturally handsome, David presented himself well.  He took care of his appearance.

Yes, I know, God looks at the heart.  But people don’t, and deliberate ugliness is no virtue.  You may not be thrilled with what you have to work with, but you can do your best with it.  Take a bath, please!  PAY people to tell you when your breath stinks or you’re wearing your lunch.  And while holy is good, holey is not – get some clothes that look decent, clean and cared for.

6.  Presence.  Demonstrate the grace of God on your life.

David’s greatest testimony was that the Lord was with him!  He lived a life of praise, surrender, honesty with God, and confession of his wrongs.  That’s why, when it came time to fight the giant, David didn’t have to go pray about it.  He was already prayed up!

An old saying goes, “He who kneels before God can stand before anything.”  That’s true.  Even a job search.  Or a threatening economy.  Or a hostile work environment.  David understood something that it has taken me a long time to accept – our greatest opportunities are not the ones to get something or perform somehow.  Our greatest opportunities are to walk in grace and humility and love and obedience before God every single day.  Do that, and the other stuff – even that impossible job hunt – will take care of itself.

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