I’ve written several resumes over the course of my career. I assure you, none of them have looked remotely like the Apostle Paul’s.
Years ago, I taught resume writing as part of a college English class curriculum. But I never suggested that my students to do anything that even close to what Paul did on his.
In the church, I once served on a pastoral search committee. I looked at dozens of resumes of pastors. And believe me, there were none there like the Apostle Paul’s. In fact, I’m pretty sure that my church would not have hired Paul based on his resume.
What is so different about Paul’s resume, you may wonder? Didn’t he have an impressive education, noteworthy connections, and remarkable accomplishments in church planting, evangelism, spiritual mentoring, communications, and cross-cultural ministry?
Yes, absolutely. If Paul had wanted to, he could have written a dazzling resume that would have resulted in people fighting over him.
But those “accomplishments” meant nothing to Paul. What counted to him was what he had suffered for the sake of Christ. These are the things, he said, that qualified him to represent Jesus. These are the things that proved he was truly a servant of God.
Here’s what Paul wrote on his “resume”:
As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:4-10)
When I read his words again recently, I was humbled and deeply moved. What have I suffered for the cause of Christ? What rights have I put aside in order to serve His people? Jesus said that “‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). If that is the measure, what evidence is there, then, that I am truly Jesus’s servant?
As I invited the Holy Spirit to search me on these things, He helped me to see that my service for Jesus has had a price. Though I haven’t suffered beatings for Him, I have certainly encountered troubles, hard work, and not a few sleepless nights, along with some of the other difficulties that come with the ministry territory. His reminders reassured me.
However, the greater take away for me is this that God’s way of evaluating our ministry success—whether vocational or avocational—is very different than ours. If in the course of representing Jesus we suffer misunderstandings, lack of appreciation, long hours, low pay, or any of the other ups and downs that go with being His servant, we should not automatically think we’re doing something wrong. The very opposite may be true. God may be saying, “Look! See how much like Jesus they are?”