When Jesus chose his disciples, he was looking for something specific, a quality that would make this band of misfits the catalysts for an eventual movement. Was it education? Clearly not. While they weren't all uneducated, most of them were at least limited. How about communication skills? Definitely not. There are literally dozens of examples throughout the gospels of the many blunders that the disciples made miscommunicating Christ's vision for the Church. Maybe it was wealth or power or social standing. Strike three, four, and five.
So, what was it? What was Jesus looking for that made his disciples so effective after his departure? Clearly there were plenty of qualities that they didn't have. What was the indispensable quality that they did have? When we look at Jesus' ministry on earth and the three years he spent apprenticing these twelve men, it's clear that there was one common trait: teachability.
Of all their flaws and mistakes, the disciples did one thing right. They had a learning mindset. Undoubtedly, these guys had their momentary lapses in judgment, but they always came back wanting to learn. They could have been the most talented, the wealthiest, or the most powerful. They weren't. But they had the most valuable quality of all. They were willing to put their past experiences, preferences, and religious know-how behind them for a vision much more powerful.
As a church planter, I'm learning to take a cue from Jesus on this one. This is not new for me, but it is an important reminder. I am re-discovering that it's not the most talented or most experienced people that make up great church planting teams. It's the most willing, agile, flexible, and humble. It's the people who say, "I know a thing or two about ministry, but I'm willing to put it aside so I can come alongside you to help you reach the goal."
Newthing Network, an organization that we are a part of, calls this the "first follower." It's not the person with all the answers that will help you get to your destination. It's the person who says, "I'll follow first." Interestingly enough, it's not leadership that makes a person teachable. It's followership.
God can use you in amazing ways, ways you cannot even begin to imagine. But it won't happen because you have the answers. It will happen because you have the questions. Paul said it is when we are weak that we become strong, but how many of us are willing to become weak in order to accomplish the vision? Jesus said we will be known for our love, but how many of us would rather be known for our accomplishments or knowledge?
Are you teachable? Are you willing to learn? Is your goal to be heard, have your way, or bring back the "good old days" from a past ministry? Or are you teachable, moldable, shapable, and humble? Do you tend to come to a leader with your vision and the way you would do it, or are you asking questions to find out how you can help him/her get to the preferred vision?
Ask yourself, "What am I willing to give and how much am I willing to learn in order to accomplish the mission and vision God has called us to as a church?"