The presumptive presidential candidates are a few weeks from their conventions and seem, at least from the perspective of the news media, to be in a “frantic” search for vice presidential candidates. What they are looking for is anybody’s guess. I have wondered myself , whether they are looking for talent or just individuals who are most popular and who will attract attention enough to help them get elected. Of course, I do not want to use this reflection to assume too much about their search since I do not want to join the curious media.
My interest, instead, is to make the point that leaders who are most effective are those who draw the best talents about them. I constantly look for talents, in my pastoral charges. But speaking of talent search, some might suggest that Jesus should have been an ineffective leader from his choice of disciples. He seemed to have been crazy when one takes note of the persons whom He selected to be his disciples to carry forward His ministry.
Just think of it, most of the disciples that Jesus called were fishermen. Peter, Andrew, James and John (Matthew 4:18-22), the first four disciples to follow, were fishermen. Philip who came from the town of Bethsaida was also thought to be a fisherman (John 1:44). James, the Lesser, who is believed to have been a rather fiery character, was also believed to be a fisherman. Then there was Nathaniel, the unknown Galilean, who was prejudiced. His prejudice was revealed when Philip introduced him to Jesus and his immediate response was, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). And there was Simon, the knife-wheeling zealot (Luke 6:15). There was Thomas, the pessimist; most people know him as Thomas, the doubter (John 20:25). There was Jude Thaddeus, also believed to be a zealot (Mark 3:18). And there was Matthew, the hated tax collector (In our day we would say he works with the IRS, a most ungrateful job) (Mark 2:14). And finally there was Judas, the traitor (Luke 6:19; Matthew 26:14-16).
What a bunch of rag tags? But Jesus chose them and it is amazing what became of them. Apart from Judas, the traitor, who is believed to have been the most intelligent of the bunch, all the disciples had little talent. But after Jesus took them and trained them, they became so powerful that through their leadership the Christian Church spread far and wide in the then known world. On the day of Pentecost when Peter preached, he was so persuasive that the people asked what should they do. When Peter told them, more than 3000 souls accepted his word and were baptized.
Wow! Jesus could see potential! His experiment became very successful, except for the one who betrayed Him. As has been said, the devil got into Judas who made a mess of things. But, overall, what Jesus did proved supremely successful. So while in the search to find talent, we might suffer frustrations, but we need to have more patience and trust some of the simplest people we might be tempted to pass. In the end these might become some of the most powerful in leadership.
Do I need tell stories about Sir Winston Churchill or about President Abraham Lincoln and so on. Read of their lives in school. Read what their teachers thought of them. Listen to stories of some of our most effective leaders today. Hear them tell of what they remember a teacher or a parent told them. I hear the tragic tales all the time, “Boy [Girl], you will never come to anything.”
The point I make is that we should not be so quick to write people off. Let us not only look for talent when they are most developed, but let us look for potential and seek to help them grow. This is the way of