Faith in Waipā – Unlocking the potential

Christine Bryant

January – you blink and it’s over. Time to prepare for school – new uniforms, new books, new teachers. For those who finished school in 2022, thoughts turn towards moving away from home to study in a new city or becoming part of a team in a work place.

As a teacher, I have met a lot of new students each year and have had the privilege of spotting the potential and see it develop over time. Yet, it’s not always easy to spot the potential. Young people may go through a tricky patch before they eventually find their way. When confronted with a defiant student, I try to remember the person in front of me is not the finished product – if any of us is ever a finished product.

I remember the chorus of a Sunday School song: Kids under construction, Maybe the paint is still wet; Kids under construction, God isn’t done with me yet.

These days getting a job is an involved process. Firstly, the job description. You have to work out whether your skill set, and experience match the criteria. Next updating your CV, hoping it is glittering enough to score an interview. For the interview you need to prepare – check out the company you hope to work for, rehearse your strengths and weaknesses, explain how you deal with conflict, and so on. Lastly, if all goes well, you get the call which says yes, you are a good fit and you are offered the job.

St Peter, the rock on whom the church is founded.

The contrast between this drawn-out process and the way Jesus chose his disciples couldn’t be more stark. Take the apostle, Peter, for instance. In John 1:42 we see how Jesus could spot potential in the shortest job interview ever. Simon (Peter) went to meet Jesus with his brother, Andrew – two brawny fishermen. “Jesus looked at him. ‘You are Simon, son of John. You shall be called Cephas’ – which means Peter”.

Cephas/Peter mean the man of rock, the totally dependable one. Now Peter was anything but reliable. He was impetuous – he tried to walk on water; he was easily angered – he cut off someone’s ear with his sword; he was cowardly – the night before the crucifixion he denied even knowing Jesus.

Jesus, however, could see the man Peter would become: the rock on whom the church is founded. His impetuous became a willingness to take risks; his anger transformed into indignation in the face of injustice; his cowardice turned into fearlessness. Time and again in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter confronted the authorities to defend the young church. In the end he died for his faith. The fact that Jesus saw this and called him to be a disciple unlocked the potential in him.

We who are of mature years were once like Peter. Our first employer saw something in us and took a chance that we had the potential to do the job, even if our CV was somewhat light. So, if you are able to tutor, employ or mentor a young person, I urge you to take a chance on him/her. Unlocking the potential of our youth is vital for the future well-being of our communities.

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