You Might Want to Think Twice Before Using Your Pastor as a Job Reference

CRANKY CHURCH MEMBER: Can I use you as a job reference?

ME: Sure, if you don’t want the job.



I am amazed at some of the people who have asked me to be a job reference for them. Especially the ones where I have to write a paragraph about their character. It’s not just my phone number that no one will ever call; I have to describe who they are.

Now, in some cases, it’s an honor to be asked and I am more than happy to recommend them. These are people who have been friendly, helpful, and faithful. There is nothing bad I could say about them.

Then there are other people. People who complain about stuff, rarely show up, generally cause problems, and often post unbelievable pictures on Facebook about what they do outside of church.

I mean, what exactly do they think I’m going to say?

I’ve told my church in the past that if you use me as a job reference I will tell the truth. I wrote for one person that they rarely show up to anything and I wouldn’t trust them with any kind of real responsibility. I figure a boss should know that and someone has to tell them.

I wrote that another person frequently had a bad attitude and was grumpy. I told one that I wasn’t sure why this person asked me to be a reference since I hardly know who they are.

I don’t know, maybe I’m supposed to say “no” to those requests. But in my mind, you asked me, I’ll do it, but I’ll also tell the truth.

Then there’s the reality of the situation that in our small town if I recommend you, my reputation may work against you! Who knows. Maybe you’re better off going without any link to me whatsoever.

Doing job reference things is yet another weird place pastors get forced in to. There’s nothing in the Bible about pastors having to do such things, yet it kind of goes with the territory now.

You’ll also get asked to do this in relation to mission trips and service projects. I have honestly told many mission trip people that, uh, no, this person would be the last person in the world I’d want to go to Honduras with.

It’s actually quite fun now! It’s a form of entertainment. There have been people who have left my church in a huff and made it clear they didn’t like what I was teaching, who later asked me for a job reference! Gladly! I told the prospective boss the truth. This person left my church. They have a bad attitude and I have no idea why they asked me to do this.

It was kind of a fun way to enact some reaping and sowing.

Yeah, I know grace and love and stuff. Get off it. This is fun.

The downside about gleefully telling the truth about people on their applications is that I hardly get paid anymore seeing as how all our people are unemployed.



Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
–Ephesians 4:25

2 thoughts on “You Might Want to Think Twice Before Using Your Pastor as a Job Reference

  1. LOL! Revenge is sweet. So I am full of grace. If someone came with the recommendation that they “frequently had a bad attitude and were grumpy,” I’d hire them on the spot. Bitter? Tired of playing games with the rest of the human race? Awesome, let’s work together.

    Something that really bothers me, we aren’t honest with one another or ourselves. In the church especially, we should be speaking some truth into one another’s lives. Instead we all just lie through our teeth.


    1. Depending on the job, yeah bad attitude and grumpy might work fine. Like pastor, for instance. I’ve managed to do it! I’m just being honest about who they are hiring, they can still hire em if they want!

      Liked by 1 person

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