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The National Football League has concluded its annual draft. Preceding this draft, scouts from each of the teams worked hard at timing runs, measuring distances jumped, counting the number of times the players could lift weights, and giving intelligence tests. When all of this was completed, each team went into the draft with a list of the players they believed would do the best on the professional level.

In spite of all this work evaluating talent, sometimes the teams miss it completely. They draft players in the first rounds that don’t even make the squad. And sometimes they overlook the best players available. Tom Brady, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, was not drafted until the sixth round. Tony Romo, who played quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, was not drafted at all. These and many others were completely overlooked by the best judges of football talent in the world.

It should come as no surprise that we are as inept as they when it comes to evaluating talent. When Dennis Rodman was finishing his career in professional basketball, he was offered a role in a movie. When the movie was released, one reviewer said of Rodman’s acting ability, “If he were on fire, he couldn’t act as if he were burning.” Now, that is a lack of acting ability!

We all struggle when it comes to evaluating the abilities and talents of people around us. It’s been said that there is something that is finer and rarer than ability; it is the ability to recognize ability.

No one could do that like Jesus. He was constantly calling people to follow Him and calling out their gifts. His 12 disciples were a striking example of that. Jesus chose people that the world had largely overlooked. He enlisted some fishermen from the Sea of Galilee to follow Him. He invited a tax collector to be His disciple. He called a flaming revolutionary named Simon the Zealot to share His message of peace. Robert Coleman called these 12 disciples “a ragged aggregation of souls.”

Jesus not only saw the potential in these disciples, but He also had the patience to work hard to develop that potential. In spite of the repeated failures of these disciples, Jesus refused to give up on them. Gradually, under the tutelage of Jesus and the power of His life, these disciples emerged as the most significant band of followers who ever existed. They touched and changed their world. Now, 2,000 years after they lived, we still study their lives and pore over their words.

Gold prospectors have a distinct quality. When they are prospecting for gold, they never throw anything away without taking a second look. As we look for the gold of gifts hidden in the lives of others, we need to do the same.

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor, supply preacher and author who lives in Oxford. He can be reached at kljones45@yahoo.com.

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