Don’t overthink your resume. Just drop those nets and get to it.
We get a rare chance to catch a glimpse of Jesus’ leadership style in our Gospel appointed for this week, especially his philosophy of human resources. We are given the opportunity to watch him pick his Middle Management in a brand new start up.He has returned from his desert retreat, and his goals and objectives have been laid out. Now it’s time for administrative action; it’s time for the important work of helping the world to see the Kingdom of God is at hand.
The people he brings on board had better be of the highest caliber, especially if they’re going to convince First Century occupied Palestinians that God’s reign is near.
Firstly, I would think that Jesus would be looking for people with stunning resumes that would knock your socks off. Surely they would have to have time tested leadership qualities, including skills in human relations. As we learned from the Gospel reading, this is exactly what Jesus looked for in his appointed leaders. . . right?
What we find out is that Jesus certainly has a unique way of structuring his organization, if you can call it even call it that. Jesus comes back from his desert experience ready to take on the world, and where is the first place he goes? He goes to the little town of Nazareth. Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
Now you might hire a few minor laborers from Nazareth, but you wouldn’t go there looking for quality executive leadership. Jesus didn’t go to people of means. He didn’t consult with the Sadducees, the Pharisees, or the elites in the social structure there in the First Century. He didn’t look for anyone with previous preaching experience. Instead he went to the fishing docks, and without any personnel reviews. . . without any background checks or interviews, our Lord begins selecting people who not only never turned a company around, but could barely manage their own lives.
Perhaps you’ve heard the one about the Jehovah’s witness who married an athiest. It turns out they had children who went around knocking on doors for no reason at all. The new followers of Jesus could have been those children. When you read the Gospels, you sometimes wonder if the followers of Jesus ever knew what it was they were supposed to be doing, or for what reason, when Jesus sent them out into the towns and villages.
And who is among the first to be hired on? Peter. . . the rock! He hired Peter ahead of so many potential executives. If Peter was to be hired on at our local Walmart, I’m not sure he would make it out of his probationary period. His unemployment would run out long before anyone could see past his reputation. When his feet weren’t in the water as he untangled his fish nets, at least one of them might be found in his mouth. His impetuous ways often rendered him a public relations disaster.
The others didn’t fair much better; either they smelled like fish emulsion, or they had to be watched with a careful eye.
What was Jesus thinking?
Well, here’s what I think. I think Jesus always puts the human before the resource. Jesus always looks for the best in the person and doesn’t rely on first impressions or unrealistic expectations. Each individual is seen as indispensable until proven otherwise. Oh how I wish and pray that someday. . . someday I will be able to look at everyone the way Jesus does.
I’m so glad that Jesus picked Matthew and Peter, and Andrew and the rest of those unskilled ruffians, because on this side of the Resurrection, they were no longer lost children, but became compassionate and extremely effective leaders. If Jesus could use them to turn the world upside down, then just maybe, by the grace of God, there is a place for you and me on the team.
Each of us can be just as impetuous as Peter. We can smell just as bad as Andrew. We have the capability of being just as deceiving as Matthew, and we’ve all had those times when we were not beyond betraying the love and trust that others give to us. However, we too are on this side of the Resurrection; we too are on this side of the promise and hope of forgiveness.
Jesus always seems to see more in us than we can possibly imagine. Maybe that’s because he’s seen the world from a cross high on a hill called Calvary. If we can’t see it in ourselves, then we just have to trust.
I can’t help wondering if the designers of the Lectionary made sure that this Gospel was appointed in the first month of a brand new year when many churches are in the process of picking some new leadership. I know in my own Episcopal Church many parishes are planning their annual parish meetings, the gathering where we take inventory of our human resources. It is a time when the community commissions dedicated people to serve on the Vestry and to lead in any number of different ways. The Annual Meeting is also a time to say thank you to those who have held down the fort for us in years past.
We all need to believe in our worthiness and our self-worth in the eyes of God. We are on this side of the Resurrection. Each new year can be the year that we turn our church upside down. There are many ministries in the church. Don’t worry about your resume; just listen for the call.
We can inventory our gifts and say, He must not be calling me, but how much better it will be, if we just drop our nets and follow?
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