Have you noticed that there is almost unanimous agreement across all types of working cultures, that the choosing, hiring, and firing of staff is extraordinarily difficult? To assemble a successful team presents a massive challenge. To build a group of individuals into a healthy, high-achieving unit, remains one of life’s highest mountains to scale.
You may be the one doing the hiring and building, or you may be the one being hired, but the shared task will always take you to your limits, whatever your role.
You have an advantage when approaching the accounts of the Son of Man. If you concentrate, you can see that his team established a worldwide, long-lasting movement, which, even in today’s changing work-scape, persists as the single largest human community ever established.
Christianity, with all its faces, is the world’s largest religion. It is a family, a workforce, a movement, and a team all rolled into one, with both a noble and flawed history.
So what was the thirty-year-old Son of Man thinking, feeling and doing as he chose twelve to join him? How did he go about selecting his team?
Can I knock one common statement into the long grass with you? How often have you heard or read words like “Jesus took ordinary men, not the cleverest or wisest, but just ordinary people…” They were not ordinary men for at least two outstanding reasons.
First, there is no such thing as an ordinary person. Jesus could see the breath of God, the Word of God, the dream of God, in everyone. Everyone, including you, is fearfully, wonderfully, and intricately made. You are a unique, extraordinary person. Jesus never treated people as ordinary.
Second, it is quite clear from the behavior of the Son of Man that not any twelve would do. In a world of extraordinary people, the Son of Man wanted those who were extraordinary in a way that fitted with his vision and dreams. He needed a group with particular qualities for these hours, for this task, at such a time.
Please stop and realize that in this respect, you share their path. You too are extraordinary, called for your times, seasons, and unique destiny. Never forget it – he has not.
Now you can see two further key features of the Son of Man’s heart as the journey unfolds. First, he spent the whole night in prayer before he invited them to join him. Any twelve would not do. He needed to resolve in his heart, in prayer, which twelve he would invite for this particular role.
You don’t find it in the manuals about human resources or personnel practices. I wonder how teams would look if those in charge of hiring or inviting included “a night of prayer” on the to-do list. You would have thought that the Son of Man, of all of us, would have skipped this step. But it is in prayer that hearts are revealed.
The pray-ers heart is opened to God the Father and to himself or herself. The Father’s heart is revealed in the words and the silence. The hearts of the “candidates” open up before a humble, persistent pray-er. Any twelve would not do. This invitation would change their lives forever, and through them, change the world. It still does.
But there is, nestled in the accounts, a gentle truth that takes you into the very soul of the Son of Man.
Mark, no doubt drawing on Peter’s reflections, gives us the clues. “Jesus”, he says, “called to him those he wanted”. Then he says “that they might be with him”.
Can you see it? He wanted them. He wanted them to be with him. Another one of the twelve, John, who knew this in his bones, records further words: “I no longer call you servants, instead I have called you friends”.
It’s easy to miss it in your rush to identify their job description, but Jesus wanted and needed twelve friends.
He chose them because he liked them.
He invited them to work with him, talk with him, laugh, cry, pray and walk with him. When you see this profound truth, you’ll enter into the Son of Man’s heart, who says that there is no greater love than laying down my life for my friends. You will also see that the twelve did not change the world, losing their lives in the process, for a project. They loved their friend and would do anything for him.
The Son of Man shows a heart longing for friendship. He liked these men – you can see it expressed constantly on their travels. We will see it again.
This team was born in prayer and grown in friendship. The very best teams always are.
12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
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