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Resume of Resumes!
December 10, 1989

ISAIAH 11:1-10

How many of you have ever written a resume? Most of you are familiar with resumes, where you list your experience, skills, and qualifications for the position you are seeking. The skillful job seeker writes a different resume for each job, taking the opportunity to present him/herself as the one best qualified for the particular job. We have distributed an announcement for the Director of Program Development position that is now open in our church. I am receiving resumes from persons all over the country who work or who desire to work in Christian education. It is interesting how many send a resume that is obviously generic. They haven't taken the time to rewrite their resume to respond to our particular needs as stated in our job announcement. I said to Renae, "I don't think we are interested in applicants who aren't creative enough to write a resume that shows why they think they are qualified for our particular position."

Skillful job seekers don't mail out generic resumes indiscriminately, hoping somebody out there needs them. Skillful applicants seek to understand what the position entails and what the company needs, and then they write a resume and application letter that states clearly what kind of skills are needed for that position, and coincidentally point out how they have those qualifications. A skillful job seeker in essence says to a company, "What your company needs is x, y, and z, and coincidentally, because of my experience, skills, and talents, I am just the person to help you achieve x, y, and z."

If you were writing a resume and letter stating what is needed in the world today, and what kind of leaders are needed in government, industry, education, communities, families, and the church, what would the resume look like? If you were writing a resume for the position of Messiah, what would you include? The modern equivalent of "messiah" is "leader." One of the major things wrong with our society today is that we are writing the wrong resumes.

An ideal resume--a resume of resumes--was given to us some 2,500 years ago by the prophet Isaiah, and read to us this morning. This oracle was probably written for the coronation of Hezekiah as King of Judah. It was probably read or sung in the ceremony when Hezekiah became the Messiah, the anointed one. Messiah literally means "the anointed one". The King of Judah was anointed to be the leader, the messiah, of his people. What kind of leader did the nation need? Isaiah wrote the resume in Isaiah 11:2, And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,the spirit of wisdom and understanding,the spirit of counsel and might,the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

I submit this resume to you as the qualifications for leadership we need today in government, industry, community, church and family. Notice what is not included in Isaiah's resume. It does not list the ability to look good on television! The ability to sell yourself, your platform, your party, your leadership in a 30-second t.v. spot does not appear in Isaiah's resume. Isaiah's resume does not list the ability to get rich quick, especially by using other people's money. Isaiah's resume does not list the ability to speak to middle America while at the same time keeping the wealthy contributors comfortable and profiting. Isaiah's resume does not list the commitment to the short haul, the short-term, rather than tackling the long range, politically disastrous topics, like the deficit, environment, ozone level deterioration, and nuclear arms stockpiling. Isaiah's resume does not list the ability to sue on any pretense, and keep the issue involved in long court cases.

Isaiah's resume is people-centered, not greed centered. Isaiah's resume is for public servants, not public users. Isaiah's resume is predicated on moral principles, not get-rich schemes. Isaiah's resume produces leaders who will lead. Isaiah's resume understands what leadership means. Isaiah's resume lists the qualifications our leaders of governments, industry, communities, churches, and your family need! Isaiah's resume of resumes has three parts:

1) A leader shall have intellectual power, "the spirit of wisdom and understanding." A leader shall have insight and perspective. A leader shall be educated, with a trained mind that is constantly growing and stretching. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism some two hundred years ago, was a scholar and prolific writer, who studied on horseback, and challenged his preachers to study. One day he was accosted by a critic who said, "The Lord told me to tell you he doesn't need all your book learnin'." To which Wesley replied, "I'm quite sure the Lord doesn't need my book learnin' and, even though the Lord didn't tell me to tell you, I take it upon myself to tell you that the Lord doesn't need your ignorance either!"

2) A leader shall have the gift of decisiveness in judgment and the ability to carry it out, "the spirit of counsel and might." The Good News Bible translates this phrase, "and the knowledge and skill to rule his people." A leader shall be decisive, strong, and have the ability to lead people, not follow them.

3) A leader shall be committed, and this commitment shall be evidenced in the way he/she lives. "The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord," says the Revised Standard Version. The Good News Version states, "He will know the Lord's will and will have reverence for him." Verse 5, "Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins." Wouldn't it be refreshing if when the list of the best dressed men and women is distributed each year, we would award those with girdles of righteousness and faithfulness.

The point of this qualification in the resume is that leaders, they who would rule or lead others, must first be led or ruled by moral principles. They themselves must be committed to high moral principles. They themselves must be under the constraint to live according to what we understand to be the best. Too often we hear the ridiculous statement, "It doesn't make any difference what the leader does in his/her private life." No wonder we have a crisis in leadership. How can a person lead if he/she cannot set an example?

When a leader with Isaiah's resume leads, look what happens, verses 3 and 4. "He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness." The leader doesn't rely on what he/she sees or hears, doesn't rely on appearance or hearsay, but makes judgments based on righteousness. And, continuing, "he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth." Good News version: "He will judge the poor fairly and defend the rights of the helpless." A leader stands up for the helpless and the powerless, and helps create a society where everyone has an equal chance.

Continuing what happens when such a leader leads, vs. 4, "he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked." Good News version, "At his command the people will be punished, and evil persons will die." Imagine that! Evildoers will be punished, not joined or cultivated. Can you imagine leaders who would actually see that those involved in the Mafia, drug dealing, S and L ripoffs, HUD scandals, and Irangate are punished?

What a resume! A resume of resumes. The Interpreter's Bible summarizes Isaiah's resume: "the gift of superhuman wisdom and the consequent rule of justice in society, producing positive good, restraining evil, and ensuring personal integrity in the ruler himself."

Isaiah's resume describes the ideal Judean king. After Judah was conquered by Babylonia, from that time on there was never again a king of Judah. The resume of the ideal king--the messiah--became the basis of a fervent hope that God would some day restore his people under a king, a messiah.

We Christians believe that Jesus is that messiah, that Jesus fulfilled the expectations, the resume of resumes as written by Isaiah. Most of the people of Jesus' day did not accept Jesus as Messiah. They wanted a military leader, a conquering king, not an innocent baby born in a manger who grew up to be a loving, kind, courageous leader who preached a kingdom not of this world. The second stanza of our Hymn of the Month which we sang this morning, noted that those who killed Jesus because he didn't fulfill their expectations of a messiah, someday, "deeply wailing, shall the true Messiah see."

We Christians believe Jesus did fulfill the qualifications and expectations of Isaiah's resume. At Christmas, we celebrate the coming of Jesus to this world in fulfillment of the resume, but don't let the Christmas celebration be only of the past. Let your Christmas celebration also be a commitment to the leadership model written by Isaiah and embodied by Jesus. Let Jesus be a role model for you in your own resume and in choosing leaders.

Dare you be such a leader? What would happen if someone here this morning decided to run for political office with Isaiah's resume! Would you be followed and acclaimed like King David and King Hezekiah? Or, would you be crucified like Jesus? Is it worth a chance? The world needs you.

Dare you take Isaiah's resume into your office, your business, your family? Using your intellectual power, under constraint to live according to God's moral standards, be honest, treat others fairly, and defend the rights of the helpless and powerless, the victimized and exploited, whether they be the black, Hispanic, women, handicapped, epileptic, retarded?

We have a leadership crisis in government, industry, communities and families. A major reason for the crisis is we are writing the wrong resumes for leaders. Dare you take Isaiah's resume seriously, model your life after Jesus, and be a leader wherever God calls you?

© 1989 Douglas I. Norris