Jesus – an amazing talent scout
Dr. R. B. McFee
Have you ever heard someone ask “why would God choose me?” or “what do I have to offer Jesus?” or “do I even matter?” or “what is my purpose?”
Part of my answer involves prayer. I ask that person “did you run it by Heaven’s HR Department, or did you contact the CEO – God, and ask Him?” Because everyone can be an effective part of God’s enterprises, we all matter to Him, and we all have a purpose – until our last breath on earth, if we take the time to ask for some career guidance from the Almighty.
Did you ever think of God as a career counselor? Jesus didn’t see our current situation necessarily as an asset, barrier, or calling. He looked past what someone did to see who they are. Let me show you…. let’s step back two millennia, joining Jesus in first century Galilee….
What if Jesus put you were in charge of human resources (HR) for the new enterprise known as Christianity? You have everyone in Judea at your disposal as a candidate to hire. You have the most learned religious scholars, lawyers, wealthy businessmen, influential politicians from which to select, even well known scribes. And we all know how important public relations can be!
So who would your recruit?
“Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. He saw two brothers. They were Simon and Andrew, his brother. They were putting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. Jesus said to them ‘Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!’ At once they left their nets and followed Him.”
Matthew 4:18 - 20
Put differently, as HR director would a fisherman and an inquisitor come to mind as leadership material for the new enterprise designed to spread the Word of God, the Good News of Jesus, and the Presence of the Holy Spirit within each of us who ask the Almighty?
Granted being a talent scout is an inexact science for most mere mortals. Hiring the right candidate is the dream of every company that ever placed a “help wanted” sign in their storefront window, posted a job on the town hall wall, placed an advertisement in a newspaper, used a placement agency, or tried the internet. Personality tests such as Meyers Briggs, talent evaluations, and skills assessments all have been utilized. And still that elusive ideal candidate remains often difficult to locate.
Moreover, anyone who has ever had to build a team knows there are a lot of factors in the selection process once you find a candidate or two. Assessing someone, even in a day long interview can be harder than it might seem. Intangibles are often difficult to discern, such as loyalty, compassion, is the candidate teachable, leadership capacity, ego, ability to play nicely with others, initiative, adaptability. Clearly it goes beyond raw talent, or experience. And these challenges have been realities since the first cave dweller started a business.
So it is against this backdrop that one must be completely awestruck at the talent scout ability of our Lord Jesus. When one considers that a movement which by all rights was destined to fail, started with a handful of truly loyal, courageous, but largely marginalized, everyday people, ultimately succeeded, this is nothing short of miraculous – clearly the partnership of the Holy Spirit and the right folks picked by Jesus made this happen.
When my students and I started a free clinic for abused teens, nobody thought we would succeed. Nobody except Jesus. But that’s for another article. Point is – Jesus’ opinions about us matter more than anyone else, and He sees what we may become through Him.
“The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘we have found the Messiah,’ and he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said , ‘you are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas (which when translated is Peter).’”
Jesus in fact took a mercurial fisherman (Peter) and a ruthless inquisitor (Paul, ne’ Saul) who hunted down Jewish converts to Christianity so they could be imprisoned, tortured, and killed, and made them the key representatives of His movement to spread the Good News of God throughout the world.
As an HR talent scout think on this….out of all the people Jesus came across in His travels, and ministry, these were the two He trusted most to get the enterprise off and running. Seriously?! You can’t make this up. Yet two millennia and nearly two billion Christians later, His personnel choices seemed to work.
As if your HR mind isn’t exploding on the selection of Peter and Paul, Jesus also recruited a tax collector Matthew – a member of a profession most people hated. If you are looking to gain favorability with potential followers nothing says love like a tax collector!
Let’s not forget the other three fishermen (Andrew, James, and John). Then there was Simon the Zealot – a polite term for revolutionary. Not exactly who your conventional HR folks would select for VP of operations, media, logistics, or personnel for the start of Christianity. But then Jesus is no ordinary talent scout!
As if that wasn’t enough of an interesting collection of people for Christianity’s board of advisors, consider the vision with which He approached society. The least among them became leaders. Women had no voice in that region or era, and yet throughout the New Testament Jesus gave them one – nearly two thousand years before the suffrage movement set the stage for women’s rights.
Think about all the women who play a prominent role in Jesus’ teachings, immortalized in the New Testament. Each one did something that Jesus would utilize as a backdrop for a life lesson we should follow – the story of the widow’s mite, the woman at the well, the woman who never stopped asking the judge for help until he relented. Then there was Martha and Mary. Women had value, as children of God, for His Kingdom, and Jesus recruited them. He also gave them access and a role in His ministry; something unheard of lest one was a prophetess or somehow anointed.
First among this group is Mary Magdalene. Some have considered her the thirteenth Apostle, and for good reason. Like the other twelve, she learned from and participated in Jesus’ ministry. She was with Him at the Crucifixion, and Resurrection. She loved Jesus, had the courage of her conviction, and the wherewithal to stay the course with Christ. Jesus allowed her to be the first to announce “He is risen!”…. The most important sermon ever given, and it was delivered by a woman. She would go on to write the Gospel of Mary, and based on history, she spread the Good News well beyond Judea. Yet what first century talent scout would have selected her? But Jesus did.
Children were brought front and center. Some of the most inspiring stories involve Jesus either raising children from sickness or death, or inviting their company when He preached. Does anyone doubt those children remained faithful to God into adulthood?
Jesus also broke the boundaries of ethnic distinctions. Probably racial ones, too.
Consider all the other people Jesus worked with and through – a most unlikely troupe of personnel. And yet, like the fishes and the loaves, Jesus made their lives a bounty and blessing for others. Jesus truly is an amazing talent scout!
If Jesus could calm a revolutionary, reclaim an inquisitor, transforming them into Disciples, we’re fair game for the Lord, too.
Which means Jesus can use us. No one is too broken or lost or inexperienced, or down the wrong path for Jesus to reclaim, repurpose, transform, and utilize for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
In the book Adulting for Jesus by Kristin Weber she talks about God and our relationship to Him, noting that He knows the end of our story while we are still trying to sort out where the starting line is; in spite of our limited view, we can still find our purpose as people of faith which transcends occupation, including our role to share love, give justice and mercy, along with spending time in devotion to God.
So how has God talent scouted you?
“I’m not looking for the best players; I’m looking for the right players.”
Coach Herb Brooks, 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team
Coach Brooks, like Jesus, had a different definition of talent than others. Yet Jesus’ message resonates two thousand years, and Brooks led the team to their first gold medal in what seemed like a millennium.
What has Jesus recruited you to do in His kingdom? You aren’t here by accident.
You also aren’t ill equipped. Each person is like a vase, filled with beautiful flowers. Each flower a gift or talent from God. Your arrangement is probably different from mine, although we may share a flower, a gift or two. But you are uniquely made by God, and Jesus will scout and recruit you, if open to Him.
When I think about our faith family – I think about the wonderful people selected for the various ministries and outreach programs we are blessed to provide – the interfaith ministry for the homeless, our UMW, the young adult group, our various fellowship opportunities and Bible studies - past and planned, our lay leaders, bakers, chefs, musicians, and Sunday school teachers. Jesus talent scouted each person, regardless of their mortal limitations, or backgrounds, which He looked beyond. And their services for our betterment are obvious.
Jesus selected “the right people” as a team in our community of believers.
Now you think like an “HR” person – how would you place yourself in Jesus’ service? How would He place you? Have you prayed about it, or asked close faith friends, the pastor for discernment? Because there are lots of outreach opportunities at CCUMC, and in the wider sphere of the world still needing to be created, and lots of challenges to be tackled in our communities. How will Jesus utilize you? How would you like to be tasked -to lead, to join, to share a special talent or expertise?
If Jesus has recruited you where you can see yourself embarking