Saturday, June 30, 2012

Andrew, the quiet professional

The Quiet Professionals is a term usually reserved for the US Army's special forces soldiers. Men who never get to boast about their top secret missions. Men who spend their whole lives in the shadows doing the very dirty work that keeps us all safe at night. The more I think about the apostle Andrew, the more convinced I am that he was the ultimate Quiet Professional.

Not much is written about Andrew in the bible. Of the four members in Jesus's inner circle, (along with Peter, James, and John) Andrew is mentioned the least. He, alone, is only mentioned 9 times in the bible. And of the members in this inner circle, it is Andrew who appears the least argumentative and the most humble. Whenever he speaks, he always gives the correct answer. Whenever he acts on his own, he does what is right.

While his brother, Peter, preached to thousands; Andrew is never given credit for speaking to large gatherings. Andrew, it seems, preferred to keep things small. Andrew is seen leading individuals, not groups. It was Andrew who first met Jesus in the wilderness while following John the Baptist, then realizing he was in the presence of the Christ, ran and led his brother to Jesus.

In fact, Andrew seems something like a gatekeeper to Jesus at times. When a group of Gentiles wished to meet Jesus, they first met Phillip and asked to be introduced. Phillip, not knowing what to do in the situation, took them to Andrew who realized that Jesus would want to meet anyone who wanted to meet with him, not just other Jews.

Andrew often worked in the background, doing the necessary tasks, getting his hands dirty, so that others could do more important work. When Jesus fed the multitudes it was Andrew who introduced the child who had bread and fish to Jesus. Andrew had taken it upon himself to go find this boy and bring him to Jesus. Sure, 8 loaves of bread and 2 fish wasn't going feed all the guests, but it was a start.

I'm reminded of a story from the special forces. Eric Haney tells the story of Operation Eagle Claw and the disaster in the desert. One of the soldiers was asleep on top of a fuel bladder in the transport plane when it was struck by a helicopter and started to burn. That soldier, not realizing the plane was on the ground, ran to the door and jumped out, hitting all of his points just as if he was jumping from 10k feet. When asked what what he planned to do once out of the plane without a parachute, the soldier answered simply, "one problem at a time." Had he been in the air, he would have died jumping from the plane. Had he stayed in the plane though, he would also have died. His first priority at that moment was getting away from the flames.

If someone had bothered to ask Andrew what he was thinking bringing so little food to Jesus, I'm sure he would have given the same answer. "One problem at a time." Jesus was looking for food. So Andrew brought Him food. Once that was done, he could worry about whatever the next step was.

Andrew was an effective leader even though he is almost never in the spotlight. It wasn't Andrew holding the checkbook. It wasn't Andrew arguing about who among them was to be the first. He didn't crave attention or praise. But it was Andrew who we see time and time again working quietly behind the scenes making sure everything comes together.

At the end of his life, Andrew shared the same fate as most of his friends. He shared the same fate as his master, Christ. While in Greece, Andrew led the wife of a roman governor (yet again we see him leading individuals, not groups) to the Lord. When the woman's husband found out he demanded she recant her newfound faith and she refused. As punishment ,the governor had Andrew lashed to a cross (as opposed to nailing him. Lashing him would have prolonged his suffering) and Andrew is seen spending his last two days on earth tied to a cross, preaching to passersby and winning hearts up until his last breath. Even as he hung there dying, he was doing what was needed of him. Thirsty and in pain, he was taking the fight to the enemy right until the very end. And isn't that what we expect of all Quiet Professionals?

1 comment:

  1. St Andrews cross is typically known as an "X".

    so when I see a merry xmas anywhere I think of him.