The Twelfth Man


When it came to filling the hole in the apostolic band, their first priority was to continually devote themselves to fervent prayer.

Acts 1:12-14

Filling in holes in our leadership structures—these are some of the most crucial decisions we will have to make whether it’s a company, school, or church. The general model to be followed goes like this:

1. Conduct information meetings from the area needing a new leader.

2. Prioritize the needs exposed by this process.

3. List the skills needed to meet the needs.

4. Write up a job description.

5. Put postings on the internet and other media outlets.

6. Review the resumes of those who respond.

7. Narrow the candidates down to the top three.

8. Invite the top candidate to meet for a face to face interview and exposure.

If the candidate fits and accepts, then the process is over and the hole is filled. For hints on how to refine this process further based on the latest research, consult the Harvard Business Review.

Now imagine this scenario. You’re task is to lay the base for the most influential organization in history. Your founder spent over three years nurturing twelve foundational leaders, but then one of them betrayed him, taking a bribe from competitors, then committed suicide. To make the situation even more complicated the founder suddenly disappears and the remaining eleven now face the responsibility of getting a twelfth man. What should they do first?

“Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain that is called the Mount of Olives. It’s near Jerusalem about a Sabbath day’s journey. When they entered, they went up to an upstairs room where they were staying. The group included Peter, John, James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. With one purpose they all were devoting themselves to prayer together with women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” -- Acts 1:12-14

When it came to filling the hole in the apostolic band, their first priority was to continually devote themselves to fervent prayer. Luke reminds us that just as women were the first to witness the resurrected Jesus, they were also in the circle praying for guidance about who should take Judas Iscariot’s place as one of the Twelve.

LORD, through the years I’ve looked at a lot of job descriptions, been involved in face to face interviews, and seen positions accepted or rejected, but more than ever I see the absolute necessity of following the example of these early believers fervently asking you for wisdom and direction when it comes to filling in holes in leadership.

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