May 6, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Mark 3:13-19 (NIV)
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
We tend to assign the “right” people and place them into our program in hope of getting ideal results. Jesus chooses people who do not fit the expected mold. Still, he accomplishes the best results.
When I was in elementary school there was a pickup football game that would occur every recess if it didn’t rain. If it did rain, we would transition to a pickup-sticks game inside. It was the Super Bowl every day, and over three recesses the score was kept. The winning team walked away like princes and princesses.
The team selection process was a difficult one. There were the standard quarterbacks: the kids running in the front of the puberty process and thus taller than other kids. I ran with a group that was comparatively shorter. Because I was not part of the quarterback crew, it was more difficult to be selected for a team. I was fast, but memories tend to fade faster. I could have run for four hundred tetherball pole lengths the day before, but what was remembered was how I dropped the ball at the 10 a.m. recess.
Mark drops in on the side of the mountain with Jesus and we find an example of kingdom reversal, this time with respect to picking people. Just like the mountainside where God picks and sends Moses, Jesus does not need anyone to do anything. Yet in the most glorious example of leadership, he calls others to do what conceivably he could do on his own. Jesus is always picking others to do even greater works (see John 14:12).
Jesus’s uncanny leadership style is seen in how he does not only call those who are proximate or who seem like a they are a perfect fit. Instead, he calls “those he wanted.” The original reader understood that desire and intentionality are focal for Jesus. Both the place of picking and the persons picked are not ancillary for him. Mark also tells us that Jesus calls them to be with him and he also sends them. His calling involves both things that are ordinary and those which are extraordinary. Those he calls will speak as humans, but now they will speak oracles from God. They will extend care as we all ought to do, but now that care will translate into casting out demons.
Mark shows us that Jesus’s selection process was not like our own. He was not fazed by bias, a clean history, or an impressive resume. Those he chose did not come from royal stock, perfect blood, or certain skin tones. They were called “saints” yet were not called to be flawlessly infallible saints. They were not perfect in their unity. They were not homogeneous in their ideologies. And we know from hindsight that they would fail repeatedly in various forms. Jesus would ask them again and again what exactly it was that they believed. Yet these were the ones he wanted and they would be the ones sufficient for dispensing grace. They would be used to heal others. They would be the ones who spoke the message that found its way eventually to you, so that you would know you are just like them, picked by Jesus.
If God can do so much with fragile, fragmented, divisive, “who sinned?”, self-condemning, abrasive, calling-fire-from-heaven-on-others people, what superabundant good can He do through you? What kind of power does it take to use the flawed to bring about good? It is good to know that you are picked by God and He wants you.
As you look at your activities, what spheres of your life do you see God using you to do what you know would not be achievable on your own merits?
What are some conclusions about God, yourself, your relationship to others and how you see creation when you know that He has chosen you?
Consider a group or organization that you lead or are a part of and ask this question: “Who is missing at the table where decisions are made?” How can you become a better advocate of reminding others to imitate Jesus?
God, when I consider your ways and your sovereignty, I ask, along with the psalm writer, what is humanity that you are mindful of us? Thank you for caring so deeply and in specific ways. When moments of disruption occur, make us leaders who, after all the shaking subsides, are resolute to rise and to pursue you another day.
We love you God for not only thinking about us but also choosing us. Thank you for letting us be with you. Thank you for showing us in the Scriptures many lessons on mountainsides, in large fish, in palaces and prison cells that you choose us. Help us to remember these places when we find ourselves wherever we may be that you are with us also. Amen.
Originally published on May 1, 2021.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Twelve (Mark 3:13-19)
DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.