Preachers with Soiled Resumes

skeletoninclosetHeadhunters have a straightforward job. There’s a position to fill, usually in the corporate world, so they hunt down a candidate for that position. Of course, they’re searching for an employee with a top-notch resume, one who has the necessary experience and know-how. Headhunters don’t waste their time recruiting underachievers or amateurs. They’re matchmakers; they introduce just the right employee to just the right employer so that they’ll enjoy a healthy, thriving relationship.

And that’s why God would be, quite possibly, the world’s worst headhunter. Yes, often He does find people to work for Him who have extraordinary skills that they use for service in His kingdom. I have many friends and colleagues who are gifted in this way, and for them I thank God. But we cannot deny that the Lord also has a tendency to call people to do jobs for which they have little or no experience, not to mention few of the skills requisite for the task. In fact, some of them don’t want anything to do with the position. And, to make matters worse, when God strong-arms them into service anyway, much of the time they wind up making fools of themselves, making a mess of the work, or even telling God that He can take this job and shove it. It’s as if sometimes the Lord asks Himself, “Now who would most people think would be a miserable candidate for this mission?” Then He goes headhunting precisely for that individual.

Case in point: Jonah. Calling this man to be a prophet makes about as much as sense as hiring an executioner to be the CEO of a hospital. To begin with, he doesn’t want the job, period. He lets his feet do the talking. When God says, “Go preach in Nineveh,” he boards a ship sailing away from Nineveh. Is he afraid of the people in Nineveh? No. Does he doubt his abilities as a preacher? No. Rather, those people he’s supposed to serve—they sicken him. Nothing would make him happier than for God to fry those fiends with fire and brimstone, to play the ole Sodom-and-Gomorrah card. They’re his people’s sworn enemies. They’re infamous as butchers. They make ISIS look tame. The problem is simply this: Jonah knows that if he preaches God’s word to them, they may actually repent and believe. And if they do that, God will do the very thing which angers Jonah most: He’ll forgive them. In His audacious, scandalous love, He’ll let them off scot-free. That Jonah can’t stomach. And if you remember the rest of Jonah’s story, that’s exactly what happened.

So why would the heavenly headhunter choose someone with such personal animosity towards his mission field? We could ask the same type question of any number of the Lord’s other choices, many of whom have rather soiled resumes. Why would He choose Moses, a man with Egyptian blood on his hands, to lead one of the greatest act of redemption ever accomplished? Why would He let David, a renowned murderer and adulterer, remain on the throne of Israel, and even use his words of repentance in one of the most widely sung psalms in Christendom? Why would He fill Samson with His Spirit, a judge who’s always getting caught with his pants down? Why appoint Peter as part of the apostolic foundation of the church, a man who publicly denied three times that he even knew Jesus? Why call Saul, a once blaspheming, murdering, Christian-hating Pharisee, to take the Good News throughout the Roman world? Why would the Lord of wisdom make such foolish choices?

Someone might say that the messenger doesn’t matter but the message does. I disagree. In fact, the messengers do matter—they matter greatly. In fact, they are part of the word that God is speaking. And that word is that God is the God of the cross, the cross that is “foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” (1 Cor 1:18). God has chosen the foolish things and foolish people of the world to shame the wise. God has chosen the lowly things and lowly people of the world to shame the high and mighty. God has chosen the weak things and the weak, broken, soiled, despised people of the world to shame the powerful and self-righteous. He chose tax collectors and prostitutes and renegades and doubters to show the religious establishment that they didn’t know their theological ass from a hole in the ground. He even chose a mule-headed prophet named Jonah to demonstrate that He can be as stubborn in love as people can be in judgement.

God’s kingdom is a wild and wacky place. It’s pregnant with seeming contradictions. A God who’s a man. A king who’s a servant. A priest who’s a sacrifice. Shepherds who get fed to wolves. Men and women with scars proclaiming His healing. Pastors with skeletons in their closets revealing a bodiless tomb. Preachers with soiled resumes uttering words that wash us white in the blood of the Lamb.

All this seemingly contradictory work God does, however, not to be vague and sneaky but to show us that it’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to be broken. You don’t have to fix yourself so you’re good enough for God. Christ loves you in your brokenness. His light shines through the cracks in your soul. His cross is for you, where He was broken to heal you, to cleanse you, to make you better than okay. In Christ not just your resume, but your whole body and soul are as pure as snow.

Blessed are the soiled, for in Christ they are clean.
Blessed are the weak, for in Christ they are strong.
Blessed are the despised, for they leave the temple justified.
Blessed are the Moseses, Davids, Samsons, Sauls, and Jonahs, for in Christ they are God’s chosen leaders, poets, warriors, apostles, and prophets.

If you’d like to read more of my writings, please check out my two books: Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons and The Infant Priest: Hymns and Poems. Click here if you’d like to purchase Christ Alone or here for The Infant Priest. They are both also available on Amazon, as is my booklet Why Lutherans Sing What They Sing (also on Kindle). Thank you!

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14 thoughts on “Preachers with Soiled Resumes

  1. Rev. Paul Johansen on said:

    I so enjoy your blogs and the humor and solid teaching. Recently I bought your devotional. Rev. Paul Johansen, Nunda S.D. (TAALC)

  2. Rev. Gary Siefert on said:

    An excellent and insightful article even for clergy who doubt their own worthiness and/or ability in their office!

  3. Brian Crocker on said:

    I understand the gist, but this could lead to horrific call-committee selections/hirings.

  4. For reasons too numerous to mention in a short comment . . .

    Many, many thanks for this article! jb

  5. Reblogged this on and commented:
    “Pastors with skeletons in their closets revealing a bodiless tomb. Preachers with soiled resumes uttering words that wash us white in the blood of the Lamb.”

  6. Vicki Schnack on said:

    Pastor, this really hit home for me. This is the story of my husband’s life in the ministry since he was ordained in 1981. He has been told he “wasn’t a good fit, didn’t have the right personality to be a pastor, should have thought of a different life path, etc. etc.” Those in authority have often been the worst culprits. Your article both brought me tears and joy, knowing that God called him, God sustains him, and he is right where he is supposed to be. Thank you again so much.

    • I am so thankful that my words were an encouragement to you, Vicki. It is God who qualifies His servants. And He shows us, over and over again, that He can and does use those whom others would reject to proclaim His Gospel to the world. I pray that Christ continues to bless your husband in the ministry.

  7. Pingback: Compare/Contrast « Been There, Done That

  8. Very insightful Chad. I’ve often wondered about that in reference to myself, an ordained Roman Catholic deacon. In fact, even while going through the discernment process to become a deacon and then the 4 years of training, I had expected (willingly) to be “bounced” at any time. But it never happened. As a result I am convinced that God truly does choose the fools of this world to confound the wise. Thanks for the reminder Chad; I still doubt a bit about all this stuff so your post was most helpful to me.

    • So many people suffer through those same doubts, John. Even the prophets did. But Christ is our strength, especially in our weakness. I pray He continues to use you to point others to the “foolish cross” wherein the wisdom of God’s saving grace is proclaimed.

  9. revdupone on said:

    And so blessed are you. Thank you Chad for another Gospel-filled article about us soiled pastors.

  10. David Hoehler on said:

    I just finished reading “Mission at Nuremberg” about Chaplain Henry Gerecke and made a similar point in the sermon this week; comparing the repentant Nazis to the Ninevites. God bless.

  11. Pingback: Preachers with Soiled Résumés | LIBERATE

  12. Pingback: Preachers with Soiled Resumes // Chad Bird | Pastor Brad’s Corner

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