I saw a tweet from the Southern Baptist Conventions brand new President, J.D. Greear over the weekend. The first line of the tweet read:
“God doesn’t need talented people!”
It was an excerpt to an article on his website that another staff member/friend had written, and it brought me back to a meeting last summer I had attended.
At the time I was on staff at a large church. The meeting, was one involving around 35+ young staff members, it was dubbed “Young Guns”. Young Guns was a bi-monthly gathering of qualified staff members under the age of 40. To be qualified, you had to oversee a significant ministry in the church, as well as supervise at least two other employees. The purpose was to grow in your leadership ability while also having access to some “small” group time with the lead pastor of the church. A nice lunch was provided, and we all sat around gleaning from the abundant knowledge of a CEO-esque figure.
I sat, at this particular meeting, at my table with the other young guns from my department eating my nice big plate of Barbecue, listening to the meetings topic: We Only Hire A’s.
The meeting was all about how we manage our current employees and acquire new ones.
Here is an overview of the topic and therefore the hiring strategy and ongoing staff quality assurance plan:
- When hiring a new employee they must fit the personality profile that has been determined by the supervisor. (This personality test is taken by the applicant as soon as they apply)
- Once hired, they begin a probationary period after which they are reviewed at 90 day’s before a long-term contract is signed by the church and the employee.
- Bi-monthly coaching meetings are conducted between the supervisor and employee.
- Bi-yearly performance evaluations are conducted and filed.
- At the end of the year, each employee is assigned an A, B, or C based off their yearly performance.
- A’s have an opportunity for a raise or promotion.
- B’s have job security, but have no opportunity for a raise.
- C’s are on the hot seat. Receiving a C in back to back years results in immediate termination.
After going through this process with us as a staff, he then began to encourage us. We made it through. We were hired, and were actively serving on this “All-Star” staff. We were the future of the church. He then reiterated how important it was as a team to be thorough when we hire a new employee to work for us because “We only hire A’s”.
I left this meeting feeling…numb. Feeling like I wasn’t apart of a church that’s purpose is the edification of believers. Instead I felt as if I was a member of an organization, a business that was there to be efficient and effective in their work. A business that would cut people loose when they prevented its ever building drive to grow bigger and better.
But what of this.
For consider your calling, brothers: Not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 1: 26-29
This is the Apostle Paul, writing to the Church in Corinth. Directly combating quarreling among based off of whom they follow. They thought who baptized them, or who’s teachings they followed somehow made them better than their brothers and sisters in Christ. He corrects this line of thinking then says this in verse 17.
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. v.17
Christ didn’t send him to be the next great philosopher able to change people’s minds with his many words. He wasn’t even sent with words of eloquent wisdom because “the cross of Christ (could) be emptied of its power. Let that sink in. If we are people that are so talented that world looks upon us, convinced of what we say by how we say it then the power of the cross might be drained. It’s not about us. It’s about the cross.
Take into account if you would, the people the bible tends to highlight, or at least, the people that one chapter of the bible highlights. Please also forgive my oversimplification of the people below by using one word to describe their flaws.
Hebrews 11 people of faith:
Abel– These first two kinda of disprove my point as we know very little about them so we don’t see their flaws. Enoch– Ditto
- Noah – Drunk
- Abraham – Adulterer
- Sarah – Skecptical
- Issac – Bad Parent/Favoritism
- Jacob – Deceitful
- Joeseph – Boastful
- Moses – Doubter
- Rahab – Prostitute
- Gideon – Doubter
- Barak – Doubt (maybe)
- Sampson – Lacked Discipline
- Jephthah – Test’s God
- David – Murderer, Adulterer, Bad-Father
- Samuel – This dude was a rock-star I got nothing
Again, forgive me for some of the liberties I have taken with the above people. If you want to talk about their specific character faults and debate the validity of them, we can do that. It’s however not my point. My point is this; Read the list of above people, think about them, deeply. Think about their faults, think about their mistakes, their backgrounds. Now think about what God used them for. The people on this list are the foundation that is built for our faith. 7 of them are in the family line of Jesus.
Let’s highlight just one a little more.
David. Not the king but the shepherd boy. Youngest son. Handsome, but not striking. When he is chosen by God to be king he is a nobody. He kills a giant, fights some wars and becomes a man of great renown, and eventually King. But after being crowned we have his sins laid bare for us. He (arguably) rapes Bathsheba, then has her husband killed to cover up his sin when she becomes pregnant. He will eventually marry her, and have a second child (who would become king) after the firstborn dies shortly after birth.
Is that man an “A”?
In man’s eyes I think not. But in God’s? He chooses him to be the epitome of what it means to be a King of Israel.
I know, all these people lived in a different time, culture, and context. They didn’t have degrees, workshops, GPA’s, or recommendation letters. They didn’t have search committees, and interview panels. But they did have faith. And God took them, with their flaws, their sins, their mistakes, and their failures. But also with their faith, and he used them to change the world.
Is the Church in America doing the same things? Or are we so wrapped up in finding the outgoing, driven, self-starters that we are missing the truth that the bible shows us over and over and over again. The truth that God choose the least, the weak, and powerless, so that He can give them strength, and power to accomplish His goals in the world.
What am I not saying?
I alway’s hate the “what am I not saying” part of an argument, but here specifically I think it’s important. I’m not saying that
- Education is bad
- Talent should be avoided
- We shouldn’t have coaching/plans to become better
- We shouldn’t evaluate how well we(and our employees) are doing
- We shouldn’t fight hard to find the right person for a position
Quite to the contrary, I think all of those are very important and should be exercised when looking at people for positions in the church. I just feel strongly that what we are primarily looking for in someone should be much more aligned with what God looks for. This reminder from God to Samuel I think is incredibly applicable.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
God doesn’t look at our appearance. He doesn’t look at what we look at. He doesn’t determine our qualifications by degrees, leadership experience, public speaking ability, natural or acquired talent. He looks at our heart. And he can take the pure in heart and use them for amazing things in His Kingdom’s work.
I want to encourage you, if you’re reading this. To look at peoples heart. To not see a set of skills and assign a value based on them. Instead see a person. A canvas, in which God can paint a beautiful picture, that might change the course of history, or at least change the course of another persons life.
God doesn’t need talented people. God just needs a canvas on which to paint.