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“Want ad for an Apostle…” 

The Apostle Paul, from a 4th-century cave painting in Ephesus, Turkey.

If God ever wrote a want ad, looking for an apostle, maybe it would include some of the qualifications below.  That may seem like a silly idea, but it was a way to begin to appreciate the remarkable career of someone who changed the course of Christianity forever.  I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it years ago when I began to realize just what one person had accomplished and the extraordinary qualifications he brought to the work.   Many have requested this after hearing it in talks, so I hope you enjoy.    “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few…” (Matt. 9: 37).  Indeed!

  • Must have a practical trade whereby he can support himself and not be obligated to those he serves.
  • Must be able to relate to and interact with all classes and types of people, from philosophers (Mars Hill) to tradesmen (Ephesus silversmiths and tentmakers), to politicians, government officials, women, wealthy, poor and slaves.
  • Must have an ability and willingness for public speaking (including to crowds who don’t like the message) in an articulate, thoughtful, persuasive and heartfelt way.
  • Must have a working knowledge of Hebrew and know the Scriptures about Me collected by my people, Israel, as well as understand the culture of the Temple and synagogue in which they worship.
  • Must be able to speak and write Greek, the language that the educated Gentile world uses and understands.
  • Must have demonstrated the ability to work in My vineyard, study My Law, be obedient to My teachings as best they understand them.
  • Must be freeborn and have a passport, i.e. Roman citizenship, in order to move freely throughout My world,
  • Must have significant spiritual receptivity, conviction, courage, and trust in Me, not himself or his own intellect or willpower.
  • Must have enormous nurturing abilities to express patience, tenderness, and care for those who don’t always get it, who backslide, who need course correcting.
  • Must have enough life experience that he isn’t fooled by the ways of the tempter, and is able to discern between My voice and that of the carnal mind
  • Must have the faith and courage to hear My voice in the darkest hours, such as in prison, and to consistently stand against envy, ignorance, greed, and hatred.
  • Must be on fire with the clarity and truth of the message I will provide along with indefatigable energy to walk, sail, or ride thousands of miles over three decades.

In short,  ‘I’m looking for Saul of Tarsus who I will transform into Paul.’


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CD – Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles

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16 Responses to “Want ad for an Apostle…” 

  1. Sandi March 25, 2019 at 4:31 pm #

    And must be willing to endure occasional extreme hardship? i.e. “Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.
    I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.[a]
    I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”
    (II Cor. 11:25–27)

  2. Ruth Doering March 25, 2019 at 4:56 pm #

    Thanks Maddie:

    Imaginative, and true.

    Thank you for all that you do.

    Ruth D.

  3. Ginny Stopfel March 25, 2019 at 5:32 pm #

    Maddie, I so admire your consistent honest imagination. You couldn’t have put it better. Paul had no idea what he was getting into when he said “yes” to Christ. Like so many of us, it was OJT — on the job training. What a great “measure” for us to give ourselves a performance review. Thank you, thank you.

  4. Don Wallingford March 25, 2019 at 5:53 pm #

    This is well done! Despite your intro I started reading this as a generic want ad, not really registering who was writing it. But when I got to the “Me” and “My” references I stopped and really realized that this was God talking. Re-reading, I was taken with the specificity in God’s description of the qualifications and of the implicit confidence that the person who responded would be able to handle the work. I wonder how He would have responded if a woman had replied? I guess that happened a few centuries later, didn’t it?

    • Madelon March 25, 2019 at 9:17 pm #

      I’ve thought much about the women disciples/followers/early adapters — Mary Magdalene, Lydia and later Thecla and countless others. They certainly had their specific roles, as we all do today. But you can see from the many bullet points, the qualifications were remarkably specific in that first century, and how many –male or female — could have filled them all?! As Ginny S. says below, ‘when he said ‘yes’ to Christ’, did he have any idea what he was committing to? It didn’t stop him and it certainly doesn’t stop us. Onward!

  5. Colleen Moore March 25, 2019 at 6:44 pm #

    Where is the EEO Statement of hiring practices in your ad? For example:
    God is an Equal Opportunity Employer. God does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, marital status, age, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical​​​ condition, pregnancy, genetic information, gender, sexual orientation, or veteran status.
    Paul’s mysterious “thorn in his side” did not prevent him from applying for this job under the EEOC. No special accommodations were required.

  6. Lori Marquart March 25, 2019 at 8:18 pm #

    I loved this and it reminded me of my Christian Science Association assignment in 2013 to write a job description for a disciple. It was a labor of love.

  7. Jodie F March 26, 2019 at 7:53 am #

    That’s so inspired, so humbling, to think of Paul’s transformation, and all he contributed- he was certainly the right person for that job! Thank you, Madelon!

  8. Mary-Lee Gilliland March 26, 2019 at 11:22 am #

    Yes, your understanding of Paul’s role in Christianity is marvelous. I thoroughly enjoyed this -and the cadre of deep and creative comments by your followers, each renewed in the commitment to Christ through Paul.

  9. Kathleen Ramp March 26, 2019 at 12:53 pm #

    Wonderful! A friend thought these were also great qualifications for a prison Chaplain or Assistant, so I’ve shared them with our institutional committee. How interesting that Saul was the one appointed–through his transformation to Paul, he developed complete trust in God and not in his own abilities.

  10. Judith Hillend March 26, 2019 at 2:32 pm #

    Thank you, Madelon, for this insightful compilation. Not many men or women fit the role. I look forward to being with you in the near future.

  11. Carol K Rounds March 26, 2019 at 3:45 pm #

    Thank you for this thoughtful description. I have often thought that it was Saul’s zeal and love for God that opened the way to become Paul, but his transformation also enabled him to have the humility and patience to reach the gentile converts.

  12. Allison Jones March 28, 2019 at 9:59 am #

    Thank you for sharing this want ad for an Apostle. If we think about Mother Mary
    and her want ad…..wow what a list that would be.

    *Must be able to overcome shame.

    • Madelon March 28, 2019 at 10:08 am #

      Wow, Allison. What a great thought. Feel free to add to your first qualification– so spot on!

  13. Sheri Deibert March 28, 2019 at 11:04 am #

    Thank you for this interesting perspective of Paul. It makes you stop and think about what each of us brings to our service of divine Love.

  14. Shirley Paulson March 31, 2019 at 3:29 pm #

    Thanks so much for this thoughtful appreciation of Paul, Madelon. Even though you didn’t use the term ‘bold’ as you’ve pointed out in the past, it sure comes through in many of the qualifications you listed. One of the specific skills of Paul that I’m appreciating more lately is this ability and willingness to write! When you consider that neither Jesus nor any of his immediate followers left anything in writing, it’s an extremely important gift that he left for the rest of us.

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