Jesus and His Motley Crew of Disciples

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When Jesus recruited his disciples he drew together what could be referred to as a “motley crew.”  What exactly does the term “motley crew” mean?  Here is a definition according to Wikipedia:

Motley Crew

“Motley crews are, by definition, non-uniform and undisciplined as a group. They are characterized by containing characters of conflicting personality, varying backgrounds, and, usually to the benefit of the group, a wide array of methods for overcoming adversity. Traditionally, a motley crew who in the course of a story comes into conflict with an organized, uniform group of characters, will prevail. This is generally achieved through the narrative utilizing the various specialties, traits and other personal advantages of each member to counterbalance the (often sole) specialty of a formal group of adversaries.”

Often we do not pay attention to what Jesus did as much as his teachings.  The actions of Jesus are just as important as his parables and sermons.  This especially applies to how he recruited his disciples.

Jesus’ Motley Crew Recruitment

When Jesus began the process of calling his disciples to follow him he began with men who had something in common.  In the Gospel according to Matthew (chapter 4) the first two men that Jesus called were fishermen who also were brothers.  Their names were Peter and Andrew.  The next two recruits were friends of Peter and Andrew who were also fishermen.  They were brothers whose names were James and John.  Is this process of Jesus’ first recruits insignificant or is there a lesson to be learned?

The act of Christ in recruiting the first disciples is a lesson in how important it is for any leader to begin with people who share common traits and values.  These four men did not have to explain themselves to one another, neither did they have to learn each other’s backgrounds.  Anytime a leader is attempting to build a team it is essential to have a core group of people who understand each other.  This enables the establishment of stability before diversity and conflict come along.   Be sure of one thing conflict will evolve in any team effort.  Before Jesus recruited the other disciples this stable core was created.  Now, it is about to get interesting.

The Recruitment of the Tax Man and the Zealot

This is where the motley crew begins to expand.  Can you think of anyone more different from the  first four fishermen that Jesus recruited than someone who collects taxes for the Roman Empire?  Matthew, the next recruit of Jesus is that man.  This is a very interesting step in the recruitment process of Jesus.  Not only did the fishermen probably have a dislike for Rome and the taxes they were required to pay, they most likely did not like the tax collectors.  The fishermen probably had no need for Matthew. (Matthew 9:9)

If you come to realize that fishermen and a tax collector make up an interesting combination all you have to do is go to chapter 10 of Matthews Gospel and see the full list of who Jesus called to follow him.  Another interesting character is called Simon the Zealot. (Matthew 10:4)

A Zealot was basically a member of a fanatical sect in Judea during the first century that militantly opposed the Roman domination of Palestine.  If the fishermen did not like the tax collector Matthew you can be sure that Simon (the Zealot) hated anything attached to Rome.  In fact, if Simon the Zealot would have caught Matthew in a dark alley he would have most likely killed him and thought to himself, “What a great day!”

Three Basic Lessons from Jesus’ Recruitment Tactics

Much can be learned from Christ in the recruitment of a productive team.

First, begin with a core group that has something in common. (Peter, Andrew, James and John—fishermen and taxpayers to Rome)

Second, allow diversity to be introduced to the team.  It will introduce new thoughts, ideas and vision. (Matthew—tax collector for Rome)

Third, do not fear tension and conflict.  These behaviors can produce great results if handled well. (Simon the Zealot—hater of Rome)

These are just a few of the lessons that Jesus taught “by what he did rather than what he said.”  Strong teams are built upon diversity.  Take another look at the definition of a motley crew at the start of this article.  This is not a bad term.  In fact, a group of people like this can do great things together.  It is all about working together even in our diversities.

Dale Roach

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