“We hire excellence.” This is a line that I heard a pastor once say in regards to his church’s hiring practices and who they would consider. Many churches today look heavily in one of two directions when considering candidates: theological degree/training or leadership background/experience. Many churches want to hire someone that has a great degree and title behind their name or want a person that has proven success in the area of leadership whether in or out of the church. Many churches want excellence in their staff whether they would outwardly say it. But when I hear and see things like this I am immediately drawn to the thought of whether or not the twelve disciples that Jesus called to follow Him would be ‘qualified’ or considered for hire in our churches today?
When Jesus began His work He didn’t call the most knowledgeable, the culturally ‘successful’, the social elite. He called fishermen, a tax collector and people who were ready to be servants. Of the former professions of His disciples we only know a few, but we can see that Jesus did not call the Pharisees, the Sadducees, or highly successful officials. Jesus called those that society would have considered lower or shunned altogether in the case of Matthew’s tax collecting. Jesus called these men for a reason. He called them to teach them, to train them and to release them to carry on the work that He had taught them. We see this in Matthew 28:20.
So bringing it back to today, would the disciples even get in the door for an interview? Now, I’ve said this before and gotten push back from some saying, “Of course. They were with Jesus.” But I believe this misses the point of my question. When Jesus called each of these men, would they have been considered high for the job then by society’s standards? Would they have been the excellent candidate? Probably not by how many churches are measuring and searching today! Jesus called the people He did so that He could teach them His Father’s commands and in turn they would go on and do the same. The disciples didn’t have any or much religious training prior and surely were not highly successful leaders again by the marks that many churches are looking today. I think many churches pass right over faithful, available and teachable servants that are ready to learn and be sent.
Now, I’m not saying that a church that is searching for a pastor should immediately hire just anyone to fill the role. Notice the disciples spent 3 years serving beside, under and with Jesus before they were sent on their own. And at the end of the three years would we deem them excellent? Probably not! But Jesus felt them equipped to start a movement and start the universal church. (Some may say that’s the purpose of seminary in training people up. I don’t disagree with this. I have a seminary degree. However, I believe many seminaries pull people from the ministry/church in order to train them and then sends them back after they are ‘trained’. This is one of the reasons I believe why 60% of pastors have left the pastorate in the first 5 years. Seminaries should train people while they are in the fields working. Jesus didn’t pull the disciples into a classroom for 3 years, teach them and then send them out. He trained and taught as they went! Ok, side bar over.)
So how are you building up the people within your church that are servant-hearted? Are you looking for people that in society may not be the elite or most successful to train, develop and lead? Don’t just look for what society and culture says are successes. Look for ordinary people who have a heart for Christ and for helping people to know Him, and develop them. Give them a chance to lead! I met with a pastor once who said, “If we ever have to hire from the outside we haven’t done our job in training, equipping and sending our church body.” I’m not saying this is the right way or only way, but what a great way to build the church!
Instead of looking for the most theologically gifted or educated person, or the most proven leader in or out of ministry for a position, consider who Jesus would call to lead? The educated or successful person may be the perfect fit, don’t get me wrong. But don’t be quick to jump over those that are faithful, available, and teachable for who society says is successful. I believe the disciples probably wouldn’t even get past the first phase of many church’s interview processes, and this is who Jesus called and saw had the most potential to be equipped to build the church and Kingdom.