Therefore, it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” So, they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. Acts 1:21-26 NIV
It’s post-resurrection and seemingly during the period between the Lord’s ascension and the Day of Pentecost when the Church is birthed with the coming of the Holy Spirit. An operational detail needed to be addressed, for the leadership team had an empty position to be filled. Judas had betrayed the Lord and died, and now the Eleven needed to become the Twelve again by selecting a replacement.
They discussed the criteria for candidates, noting that anyone considered had to have been with Jesus from His baptism by John the Baptist through the ascension from the Mt. of Olives. This narrowed the list down to two men – Barsabbas and Matthias. They prayed, asking the Lord to direct and show them who He had chosen for this role. They ‘voted’ and the lot fell to Matthias.
Think about Barsabbas who was not chosen. This was now his second time of not making the ‘final cut.’ He had been with Jesus since His baptism and was among the crowd of Jesus’ disciples when Jesus chose the Twelve (see Luke 6:12-19). But when Jesus called the names of those who would be on His apostolic training team, his name was not called. No doubt he would have been disappointed, but maybe relieved as well?
But now the list was down to just two people – he and Matthias. The 120 or so in the selection council were the committed ones and he was well thought of by them, having made it to the ‘finalist’ list. However, once again Barsabbas was not selected by God and his peers to lead. Ouch!
God selects the leaders (see Daniel 2:21) and Barsabbas had to wrestle with the reality that God had not chosen him – twice. Did it mean that God disapproved of him? Did it mean that God did not have a contribution for him to make? These kinds of experiences can be unsettling or depressing for Kingdom leaders, for all of us have ambitions and when these are not fulfilled we are disappointed.
Think also of James and John asking to be placed in the top two positions at Jesus’ right and left hand. Jesus did not rebuke them for their brash ambition or seeking to jump the line ahead of their brothers. Rather, He said, “But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.” (NLT) James and John were not chosen for these places in the Kingdom.
All Kingdom leaders will have multiple opportunities in our leadership careers where we are not chosen for a role and the mantle of leadership falls on someone else’s shoulder. How we respond to this is key. Do we sulk, get bitter, or angry against God? Do we allow a divisive attitude to emerge and not wholeheartedly support the leadership of the chosen one? We may even appear supportive on the outside, but in our hearts we are jealous or envious of the chosen one.
Have you had the experience of not being chosen, yet? If not, then be prepared – it’s coming. If so, how’s your heart?