Relevant Experience

The phrase has kept coming up recently “relevant experience”. I’m not certain what it means, even in a work environment. How do we decide what experience is “relevant”?

Jesus didn’t look for relevant experience. He paid no attention to the qualified or those in positions of power – note, power, not authority – and came to fishermen, tax collectors. Nobodies.

“Simon? He’s the big guy who brings in the fish. He’ll sell you some. That’s him with James and John.” It’ how I imagine the conversation. Jesus looking for His first disciples. The people’s attitude? Dismissive. He’s just the fisherman. Jesus sees more. He calls Simon “Peter”, and the whole world changes. All the big names of Faith in scripture start out as nothings in the eyes of men. David is so low on the food-chain in his father’s house that his dad doesn’t even bother to call him in when the Prophet gets there to anoint Saul’s successor.

Invisible people taken by God and made into something amazing.

One of my favourite contemporary speakers is Andrew Wommack. It’s not that I agree with everything he says about God – I don’t, but I’m not embarrassed to say it. It’s that his heart is amazing. I had the privilege of meeting him a few years ago, and he’s one of these people that what you see is what you get. Talking to him he’s transparent. He describes himself as a “hick from Texas” that was open to being used by God. It’s amazing because he’s been blessed with a ministry that touches millions of lives, but he’d give it up tomorrow and go back to pouring cement for a living if God told him to. And when he tells you that, you can see and feel the truth in the statement.

I don’t have that yet. I want it, but it’s not there.

I’m just an ordinary guy. I grew up in Stamford, England. Didn’t do too badly at school, worked reasonably consistently, but was afraid of people when God first called me to minister in my mid 20’s. So I turned it down. I wish I hadn’t, because now the call comes again and I’m in my 40’s. I lost 20 years because I worried about people. And I still do – only this time, despite the fear, I’m moving towards it.

I don’t have relevant experience to run a ministry. Neither did Peter. The only “qualified” apostle was Paul, and before he went out he spent time unlearning everything that made him “qualified” and “experienced” so that God could use him. It’s a sobering thought.

I regularly get told in job interviews that my experience isn’t relevant for the post. Yet I remember an article I read by a group of CEO’s having been given a personality assessment of the disciples without being told who it was for a project manager post to sell their various products into untapped markets. Almost unanimously they chose Judas Iscariot as the only qualified member of the 12 they would consider for the post. Peter was too impulsive, Matthew was untrustworthy despite a background in finance. The others were discounted as not being leadership material because they had no relevant experience.

It’s a scary thought. Suddenly by that token Hitler becomes a misunderstood lover of children and dogs, his experience as a trench-runner in the 1914-18 war serving him well as his military service showed potential for leadership – it just didn’t mention his potential for genocide. This is the yardstick the World measures with.

God’s children need to use God’s measure. It means not always picking the obvious choice, but taking a path that requires courage and Faith to move down. Experience in this world may actually hinder our ability to do God’s job. I get excited as I write towards my book because I know I’m not qualified to write it in the World’s terms. I trust God to show me, and my friends and editor to call a halt to me when I get too far off tack, but I primarily trust my Spiritual instinct. I listen to my Heart and write what God puts in it, just like with this blog.

No relevant experience, but experience nonetheless.

And in God’s eyes, all experience is relevant because it highlights His abilities and strengthens our Testimony. We overcome the World by the Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our Testimony according to Revelation. Not by pew-warming on a Sunday. Not by giving to the poor. Not by any action of our own, but by our Testimony. That’s God’s actions.

And He does have relevant experience.

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