Let me give you an example of what I mean.
I was once encouraged to develop a relationship with a family in the church because the husband was a person who had influence. He could convince others to follow him and if I could convince him to get on board with what I was trying to do, I would reap the benefits of his influence.
"What is the problem with leveraging this man's influence and leadership skills for the advancement of the kingdom?" you may be asking yourself. Shouldn't we be looking for people like him who God has gifted and blessed with ability and talent?
Consider Paul's words to the Corinthians:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. -- 1 Corinthians 1:26
It sounds like the Corinthian church was made up of people exactly opposite of the man recommended to me. These people were not leaders, were not wise or powerful. Why would God choose these people? Why would he not "leverage their talents and skills" for His kingdom?
Here is why:
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. -- 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
Turns out God intentionally chooses people who the world looks down on and despises. He does that to lay low the world's ideas of power, wisdom, and status. And ultimately He does this so that no one can boast in their own abilities but only in His.
It turns out that God isn't all that interested in you or me "leveraging our gifts and talents" for Him. He wants us to give all that we have to Him and let Him use us as He pleases. He doesn't need us or our gifts and He doesn't need us searching for other talented and gifted people to help Him either. When we are seeking people to be leaders and servants in the church, the most important question to ask is not about gifts and talents but about love for God.
We all too often allow a worldly lens to influence the way we try to find and develop leaders. We look at the kind of job they have to assess their leadership potential. We examine their socioeconomic status to determine if they will fit in with our church. We even, sometimes, look at the way people dress and carry themselves and make decisions that way. Not only are those methods of finding leaders wrong, you end up missing out on some great people and leaders that way. God delights in using misfits and those the world has dismissed for His glory.
A great example of this from the secular world is the story of Susan Boyle. Many of you probably know this story. (If you don't, go watch the video.) She was a contestant on Britain's Got Talent. She does not look the part of a singer. In the taped piece they ran before her audition she was socially awkward and talked about her cats. When she came out to sing, the camera showed shots of the audience and the judges openly scoffing at her. When she announced her song choice (from the show Les Miserables) the scoffing only increased.
And then she sang.
Susan Boyle has an incredible voice and, now, and incredible story. I wonder how many incredible stories we have missed out on in the church because we looked at the wrong criteria and asked the wrong questions. God doesn't look at the same things the world looks at. He doesn't care what we look like or what kind of job we have or whether or not we have influence. Those aren't the questions He wants us to be asking of others either.
Are they sold out to Jesus?
Do they consider all things rubbish compared to knowing Him?
Is His glory more important than their own comfort?
These may be the wrong questions and the wrong people according to some, but when it comes to God and His church, they are exactly right.