Look for potential... and then strive to release it
This week I was asked by a local charity to help with the interviews for a new appointment they wanted to make. It is hard to make an assessment of people from the details they have provided and, what amounts to, a short conversation. We believe we made the best decision that we could. Only time will tell.
It is not surprising then that major companies often invite others in to do their head-hunting and recruitment. Which, with the sort of mind I have, led me to wonder what such an agency would have made of those Jesus selected for his disciples.
James and John would have been accused of putting personal interest above company loyalty. Matthew's tax-dealings might reveal that he been blacklisted by Greater Jerusalem Business Organisations. Thomas, was prone to doubt and question and might pose a threat to group morale. Thaddeus' background check would reveal radical leanings and personality tests could register high on the manic- depressive scale.
As for Peter, his fits of temper are well documented and his tendency to crumble under pressure. He would be dismissed as emotionally unstable.
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Indeed by today's standards only one man would show the potential required. One man demonstrated ability, resourcefulness and a keen business mind. He was highly motivated, ambitious and responsible and it is likely that any recruitment agency would recommend him unreservedly. That man, of course, was Judas Iscariot .
Although all that is offered in a light-hearted manner I do in fact draw comfort and encouragement from the fact that Jesus's disciples, on the face of it, seemed by and large totally unsuited for the work they would be required to do. For, I tell myself in my own moments of self-doubt, weakness and uncertainty, Jesus looked not at who these people had been before he met them but rather at what they might become in relationship with him. If such ordinary, weak people could be used to do such extraordinary and powerful things then there is the hope that others might still be of use to God today: people like you and me.
Malc' Halliday is Centre Manager of the Christian Resources Project, Plymouth email@example.com