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Opinion – Interviewing and appointing staff; the Jesus approach

November 14, 2010 4 comments

Hiring people is fraught with difficulty. I have always thought that interviews are something of a lottery. People who do well in interviews don’t always perform well in their jobs – and vice versa. Despite all the available interview tools and techniques, I‘ve learnt that the most realistic way is to trust one’s own instincts. When all’s said and done, it’s actually a judgement call. 

I mused on the dilemma of recruiting people recently whilst reading through Mark’s gospel. There have been a number of books and studies published over the years about Jesus’ technique in choosing his disciples; the how’s, the why’s and the outcome. Like most things, its best not to push these conclusions too far but it is interesting to see how Christ went about the task of bringing his Apostles on board. There is little doubt that they were a pretty eclectic and disparate group – it must have been very hard work keeping them together. 

Reading through the first chapter of Mark, I was forcibly struck by the impact on the family of Jesus’ call? I wonder what their father and the other men thought about James and John dropping everything and disappearing in this way? ‘Without delay, they left their father and followed Jesus’ (v20). We tend to concentrate on the brothers who followed (and applaud them for it) but what about those who were left, seemingly in the lurch, to carry on the family business? There are always two sides to every story and sometimes we gloss over one in favour of the other. To me, this appears to be a piece of very rushed recruitment! Preachers praise the response of these brothers but I’m unsure whether that’s the whole story here? 

Mark 3 (NIV); 13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted and they came to him. 14 He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach 15 and to have authority to drive out demons. 16 These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), 17 James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), 18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Reading chapter 3, it immediately shouts out that, of these 12 fellows, some went on to be high profile individuals, some failed entirely and others ended up as virtual nobodies. Yet all had been called and all had taken up Jesus’ challenge. I guess this probably mirrors real life. No doubt we’ve all worked with folk at both ends of the spectrum. Not everyone can be famous and some people will not always be capable of reaching the potential that others saw in them at the outset. Mixing high and low profile individuals in the same team is not easy and requires wise and resourceful management. All teams experience such highs and lows – the disciples were no different.

Jesus knew exactly ‘who he wanted’. No lists of recommendations, no psychometric testing, no profiling, no recruitment agencies – just a personal and clear choice of the people ‘he wanted’ – sounds easy doesn’t it? But, I wonder, did Jesus get some of it wrong? Should his choices have been better? Was he right to impact other people so negatively by his clear ‘choices’? Could these appointments be described as essentially indulgent?

It leaves me feeling that the manner of the appointment of the disciples leaves many unanswered questions, no matter what we may have been taught over the years. If you read on in Chapter 3, verse 21; even his family went to find him ‘to take charge of him for they said he is out of his mind’. Who said that reading and living the Gospels was easy?

Makes you think doesn’t it?

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