It was a particularly difficult time in my life. I had recently lost my job and was fully engaged in a career search. To be perfectly honest, recently is probably a misnomer. As I remember, the interview took place up in Woods Cross, which was a fair distance from my home, but I was desperate. At least looking back now, I concede that I was at the end of my rope.
At the time, however, it was difficult to make that concession, but ultimately that is why I was clear up north looking for a job that I really didn’t want in an unfamiliar place where we didn’t even live. Nonetheless, that’s where I was. The secretary ushered me into a waiting room where I fiddled with my tie and smoothed my suit.
“It’s your turn,” came the response much sooner than I expected. I stood and walked into a board room of sorts. The woman that was about to interview me was the owner of the company. She was looking for a top salesman to lead her team to new heights and achieve the lofty goals for this successful enterprise. I tried to look the part, and I felt that I could bring the needed skills to the table.
“Tell me about yourself. Why do you want to work for such-and-such?” I was ready for this question. Of course, I anticipated this one. My answer was firm and confident, or so I thought. After a few more questions and answers, she hit me with a whopper that I didn’t expect and honestly had never before considered. “If you could go to lunch with anyone who would it be?”
Perhaps I looked confused or maybe I asked for clarification. She continued “Yes. Anyone in the world from any era… if you could go to lunch with any person throughout history, who would you choose?”
Briefly I remember thinking what does she want me to say? I knew I needed to respond quickly and confidently. So I said something like this as best I can remember:
You’re asking a very interesting question, because the opportunity to connect with people of influence and power for even just a few minutes would provide a chance to glean real wisdom and insights. So if I could go to lunch with anyone, I would pick Jesus Christ.
Without a hint of delay and no change in her expression, she continued “Why?”
Now in all fairness, I didn’t have the time to rethink my response or prepare my thoughts. She had asked a seemingly simple question, and I had shared my honest answer. But remember that I was there to impress her and get a job. So I responded with the following answer, best I can remember:
Why of the millions of possibilities would I choose Jesus Christ? That’s an easy one. In a matter of only 33 years, he changed the world and the history of mankind. Monuments are built in his honor. Millions follow him. The world we live in today is a different place because of him.
Really his ministry was only three years, yet his influence has lasted for centuries. To have a few minutes even over lunch to seek his advice and counsel would be a life changing opportunity.
That was it. The interview ended.
She wasn’t impressed. Somehow in our wrap-up conversation, I learned that I wasn’t the only one who had responded with that answer to the question. I didn’t get the job, but I have never forgotten the occasion. It was many years ago, and my answer has never really changed.
Now I am not here to debate whether that kind of response is the proper answer in an interview session. That is not my claim or intention, but I stand proudly by my answer even these many years later. And I believe we will each actually get that opportunity.
In 1965, President David O. McKay made the following statement to a group of Church employees:
Let me assure you, Brethren, that someday you will have a personal priesthood interview with the Savior himself. If you are interested, I will tell you the order in which he will ask you to account for your earthly responsibilities.
First, he will request an accountability report about your relationship with your wife. Have you actively been engaged in making her happy and ensuring that her needs have been met as an individual?
Second, he will want an accountability report about each of your children individually. He will not attempt to have this for simply a family stewardship but will request information about your relationship to each and every child.
Third, he will want to know what you personally have done with the talents you were given in the preexistence.
Fourth, he will want a summary of your activity in your Church assignments. He will not be necessarily interested in what assignments you have had, for in his eyes the home teacher and a mission president are probably equals, but he will request a summary of how you have been of service to your fellow man in your Church assignments.
Fifth, he will have no interest in how you earned your living but if you were honest in all your dealings.
Sixth, he will ask for an accountability on what you have done to contribute in a positive manner to your community, state, country, and the world.
Wow. So there it is. The questions we will have in our most important interview are spelled out for us.
I said that after all these years my answer has never really changed, but I mistake. What I failed to say then that I could not omit now are the words thank you. Thank you for giving me my life. Thank you for the gift of my family. Thank you for providing hope in an eternal reward. Thank you.
In fact, we will all have an interview with Jesus Christ.
Are you ready?
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.