Words of Faith 4-20-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.  When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:  Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,  Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot,  Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Jesus chose and an intriguing mix of players. This was a mixture of unlikely choice to be sure! We might even wonder just what Jesus trying to accomplish or communicate by the choice of these twelve men.
At times we are tempted to be rather romantic in our thoughts about the choosing of these twelve, that there was some valor, commitment or talent in them. But the truth was that these were the guys who were available. That may be the first rule of team building. In sports, you work with the ones who come out for practice. In music, you work with the ones at rehearsal.
Of course Jesus could have drafted some Apostle candidates from the chief rabbinical schools, but that has never been God's way. Remember that truth. God does not always use the able, but the available. He does not choose the equipped but he equips those He chooses.
As Jesus was preparing to choose from among the available draft, the choices might seem obvious. After all, Jesus was the Son of God. But Jesus spent all night praying before this decision. Leaders should not be chosen haphazardly or without much prayer.
Jesus had many disciples, that is, students or followers in earnest. But from these Jesus chose twelve and designated that they were Apostles. The word apostle means simply someone sent or a missionary, but in the New Testament this carries a dual meaning. First, an Apostle was one of the original 12 leaders entrusted closely with the teachings and ministry of Jesus plus Paul who was added later. Second, the many who later became missionaries of the Christian faith were called apostles.
From what Jesus did, we can observe some things about the Church about leadership.
This was a diverse team. Eleven were from the "North" one from the "South". Four fishermen, one tax collector, and two were radical revolutionaries. Several had been fairly well off, the Sons of Zebedee. One was quite rich, Levi. Philip was from Bethsaida, the same fishing town that Peter and Andrew were from, but his name means "lover of horses".
Bartholomew (or Nathanael) was from Cana, an inland town, and likely would have been a carpenter or a farmer. Matthew, Thomas and James (the less) were likely from very well educated families, and Matthew may have trained to be a rabbi.
Given the diversity of this group they probably did not even like each other! Certainly not before they met Jesus. They were very different socially, politically and vocationally. As a result, they continually misunderstood what the Kingdom of God was about and competed jealously for prominence.
Some were large and tough. We get the idea that Peter could take care of himself. He carried a sword at least near the end! James and John were called the "sons of Thunder". The other James, "Little James", was probably small or short.
Some were very vocal like Peter. Others we never heard a word from, like James the lesser. But James and John, the Sons of Thunder never shied away from speaking their minds.
There were those whose faith was kindled easily like Andrew who was probably the most earnest seeker looking for the Messiah. But Bartholomew (or Nathanael) sat and watched from a distance, a slow seeker. We think of Thomas as "the doubter" but it was not a lack of commitment. Once he followed someone, he was deadly serious. When confronted with the possibility he said, "Let us go and die with him."
There were several who were simple farmers, but at least two were hotly committed to revolutionary politics, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot.
This was also a gathering of families. Three sets of brothers were invited to be Apostles: Peter and Andrew; James and John; and Matthew, Thomas and James (the lesser). More than half the first leadership team came from just three families. It should not surprise us when the Lord uses families today.
Some had been business partners as well. Simon and Andrew had partnered with the Zebedee fish and packing company. Some of the connections here were financial but it was the success of Zebedee that allowed him to hire workers and keep going when his sons began to travel with Jesus.
All of them would fail at times. That seems to be part of the deal. All but John would run away in the end. But all, except Judas, would surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and ultimately lead with distinction. Most would eventually die for the faith as martyrs.
So what do we get from this?
1) No leadership team is "perfect". Just surrendered will do. The disciples were not perfect. Neither were the Apostles. Leaders will not be perfect and they will learn through failure.
2) Church leadership will be diverse. The Church is not supposed to be made of people that are all the same. The leadership team is not supposed to be from all the same cloth. Yet we get so disturbed when there are people who act or think or worship differently or who come from a different background. Jesus was setting a pattern so that we could see the Body of Christ as a gathering of very different people centered on their love for Jesus.
3) Church and Leadership will be a gathering of families. Jesus called church leaders as families and this is the back bone that Jesus seems to use again and again. I never met a successful church leader or pastor who did not have a family support structure behind them or with them in ministry. A church must do everything possible to strengthen family ties and call families together.
4) God did not choose those with the best resumes or the finest religious ritual. But he used those who were available. It has always been that way in the history of the people of God. We might reject many candidates based on their resume, but God looks for a heart surrendered to Him.
Where are you today? I love the chorus we sing sometimes: "If you can use anything Lord You can use me..." Are you prepared to offer yourself? Surrender yourself for followship and leadership in the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ? To celebrate the diversity of the body rather than resist it? Let us give ourselves to Him.
Father, show me my place of service. Teach me the joy of following. Then show me my place in leading. Help me to see the power that is in diversity of leadership. Help me to trust You when You choose leaders that I would not have chosen. Help me to be faithful when You choose me. In Jesus' name.