Authored by Scott MacGregor (a guest contribution)
I’ve been thinking about the unlikely characters God chose to work through. This line of thought was kindled when I read the following:
This is a letter supposedly written to Jesus by the Jordan Management Consultant firm in Jerusalem, which is reporting its findings on the twelve men he had submitted for evaluation.
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for management positions in your new organization. …
It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in the background, education, and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus definitely have radical leanings and they both registered high on the manic depressive scale.
One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right hand man. All the other profiles are self-explanatory.1
I thought, “Yes, isn’t that just about right.”
My mind raced through the Bible as I thought of a few more candidates for a similar appraisal.
Let’s take a quick look:
First I thought of the Israelites in Egypt. Here they were a whole nation of slaves for the world superpower of the day. These were God’s chosen people? You have got to be kidding! Talk about a nation of no-hopers. They initially arrived in Egypt as guests of the pharaoh and are given the best land in the nation, but a few hundred years later they have really made the worst of all their advantages.
And look at the guy who is supposed to lead them back to the so-called Promised Land. The guy is a known misfit and failure. He was raised in the royal household, he had all the advantages that money and education could buy, but then he tossed it all down the drain, becomes a criminal, and ends up as a sheepherder in the desert, where he resides until he is 80. The guy is an obvious has-been, or perhaps better said, a never-was. Then he gets the call from God to deliver the Israelites out of slavery. But get this. He doesn’t even know which God it was who was talking to him. When God calls him from a burning bush, Moses asks Him, “Uh, who do I say is telling me to deliver them?” I mean, he is supposed to be the great deliverer, and yet he doesn’t seem to know beans about the Israelites’ culture and religion.
And then there’s a kid called David, the youngest brother in a family of 12 from down on the farm, and by all appearances the least likely to succeed. Somehow, above all odds, he is tipped by a prophet to be Israel’s king. But right after that he goes back to herding sheep, so it was a bit of an anticlimax. Then he becomes a lunch delivery boy, and while on the job launches into a harebrained scheme of getting into a fight with this fellow who is about 10 feet tall—and armed. Reckless David decides to toss rocks at him. He lands a lucky one between the eyes and beats the odds to fight another day. However, instead of becoming the right-hand man of the king like he is supposed to be, he becomes an outlaw like Moses before him, and heads up the biggest gang in the land. Not only that, he becomes a traitor too and sells his gang’s services as mercenaries to an aggressive neighboring nation. When that little stint stops working out, he starts a civil war with the old king’s descendants.
Time goes on and eventually David does become king, but he gets into all sorts of strife with his own sons. One of them deposes him and he has to hare out of the capital until his cousin comes to his rescue and wins the war against David’s spoiled brat son.
David eventually chooses an heir, not from the oldest and most trained of his sons, but this young fellow Solomon, who readily confesses he doesn’t even know how to speak in front of the people he’s supposed to rule. Talk about unequipped to handle the job. Well, God takes up the slack and gives Solomon the smarts, which helped him rule but didn’t seem to extend to his family life. Solomon ends up with about a thousand wives and concubines who he is so preoccupied with keeping happy that the country starts going to pot. And sure enough, it was all downhill from there for the country.
Imagine what the evaluators would make of these characters.
For Moses: “Too long in the tooth to be much use at this stage in his career. He had a lot going for him originally, with a leg in for a variety of top jobs, maybe even the top job in the country, but he got into serious criminal activity (a severe midlife crisis, it seems), and would have spent life in the slammer if he hadn’t skipped town. Spent 40 years in his new family business but didn’t show much leadership ability, so was passed over for promotion each time it came up for review. We recommend you look for someone younger.”
For David: “Basically a red-faced kid with an attitude. Got into trouble with the wildlife officers for killing bears and lions out of season. A known rock thrower and troublemaker. Puts more effort into his music than his career. Became a gang leader, traitor, and mercenary. Not really managerial material. We recommend you look for someone less volatile and more devoted to putting in the hours on the job rather than in the garage with the band.”
For Solomon: “Young and inexperienced. Got into the job because of his ambitious mother rather than on personal merit. Doesn’t mix well with others and not a communicator. Shows a weakness for women and wild living. Likely to overspend and deplete resources on grandiose and unnecessary building projects. Suspected propensity to raise taxes. (Not a Tea Party favorite.) We recommend you get someone less inclined to vanity projects and who keeps it in his pants.”
So there you have it! The apostles weren’t alone in being the most unlikely to succeed. Of course, all the apostles with the exception of Judas succeeded wildly. And also, of course, the managerial consultants’ favorite—Judas—turned out to be a bitter disappointment, doing his best to wreck the enterprise.
And our other three candidates, Moses, David, and Solomon, are some of the most illustrious personages of early Jewish history. So whadyaknow? You never can tell who, with God’s help, can be the greatest success stories. Chin up!
1 Robert E Coleman, Timothy K. Beougher, Tom Philips, William A. Shell, editors “Disciple Making; Training Leaders to Make Disciples,” The Online Self-Study Course; © 1994 by Billy Graham Center Institute of Evangelism.
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by Simon W. Copyright © 2012 by The Family International