1 Samuel 16:1-13 - 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
God does not choose us because we are exceptional. The world is captivated by fame and glory and the next new thing. What people crave (and what God offers) is authenticity even with all of our quirks and faults, our scars and wrinkles. God chose you.
None of the Apostles or early Christian leaders (men or women, Jews or Greeks) had what one would call a great resume for ministry. And many had things that would directly disqualify them – i.e. a sinful past, the wrong gender, religious or ethnic background, or lack of proper training. Some, like Paul, even had a reputation for working directly against the Christian movement they later came to lead.
Jesus himself was from the wrong kind of family and community to be thought a fitting leader (Nathaniel said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth!?!?” referring derogatorily to the region as unsuitable to produce a religious leader who would be theologically and culturally astute and morally righteous. Jesus repeatedly called people to follow him about whom others said, “Lord, don’t you know what kind of person this is?” (Tax collectors, women with questionable sexual histories, people who were diseased.)
It is certainly true that people with big dynamic personalities have the ability to draw large crowds with compelling presentations that entertain and inspire and possibly edify. Of course God can and does use such individuals and groups to further the Gospel. It is equally true that most people and groups are not this way, and that God works through all kinds of people and organizations. Congregations often look for the next dynamic leader who will “bring the magic” that solves all the problems and either continues or restores a vibrant and growing ministry. Yet while leadership is key, leaders do not grow ministries. It is ultimately God’s Holy Spirit working through the individual members and participants, using their gifts and graces for ministry, that attracts others and brings growth. It is one-on-one and small group relationships where people feel they are seen, known and loved that cause churches to thrive. It is each person being inspired by the work of the Holy Spirit through their own lives – so that they experience the joy of fruit-bearing faith.
It is equally true that as we look beyond the walls of the church we should not stop at the pretty and popular and powerful folks, but look to the left and the right, ahead and behind, to see all people for who they are and who God is calling them to be in Christ. Each person we encounter is made in God’s image and precious. Each one bears the spark and breath of God. Each one is beloved. Each one has gifts to offer and a dream which may be the seed of the kingdom of God within them.
Who has God put in your life so that you might call them toward Christ, help them name and celebrate their giftedness, and live into God’s fullness for them?