When Jesus Was a Consultant

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I worked as a management consultant for fifteen years before settling down with the company I am currently with. Like attorneys and used-car salesmen, consultants are subject to their fair share of derision. I honestly couldn't tell you why, since it is such a fine and upstanding profession. The truth is, being a management consultant rocked—it was stimulating, challenging, and you got to see the direct results of your work.

I recently developed an even greater admiration for the profession when I discovered that Jesus himself had a brief stint as a management consultant. That's right. You can read it for yourself, right there in the Gospel of John, chapter 21. At this point in the gospel story, Jesus had already risen from the dead, but he was a little spotty on making public appearances. The disciples hadn't seen him in a while, and they were probably getting antsy, unsure of what they were supposed to do next.

One day Peter looks out to the lake and says, "I'm going fishing." Just like that, like he couldn't take one more minute of waiting around for nothing to happen. A few other disciples joined in. "Good idea, Peter. I'm with you." So off they went into Peter's boat, back to their old fishing jobs in an attempt to do something productive instead just sitting around all day in that stuffy Upper Room.

They ended up fishing all night long without getting any results. Not only had Jesus stood them up for the past few weeks, but they couldn't even do their old job right. Nothing seemed to be going their way.Those fishermen were probably not in the best of spirits by the time the sun began to rise the next morning.

Next thing you know, Jesus shows up on the scene. He's walking along the beach in a oh-it's-no-big-deal-I-am-risen-from-the-dead-and-I-think-today-maybe-I'll-just-make-a-fire-and-cook-breakfast-for-my-friends kind of casual way. The disciples didn't really notice him.

Jesus calls out to them from the shore, "Hey guys, have you caught anything?" And they shout back, "No!" Then Jesus goes all into consulting mode and offers some business advice to his client: "Throw your net down on the other side, and you will catch some fish."

Well. I am a little surprised those hearty fishermen hadn't thought of that yet. They had been working all night, after all, and I am pretty sure there were some seasoned professionals in the crew. But that's how it is when you are a consultant. You always see the thing that is so obvious, yet no one else has noticed because they are so darn close to it.

The men shrug their shoulders. "Ok, whatever," they mumble, then down goes the net across the other side of the boat. And—surprise! It immediately fills up with fish, becoming so heavy that they can't even heave it onto the boat.

"Who was that mysterious consultant on the shore?" One of them probably asked. "We should hire him on a regular basis."

Then it suddenly dawns on John. The net slips from his hands as he slowly turns towards the shore, taking a closer look at the consultant standing on the beach. He freezes for a second, and the breath goes right out of him. "It is the Lord!" he whispers. Then his face lights up. "It's Jesus!" He shouts to the others. "It's him! Jesus came back to see us!"

Hearing this, Peter plunges into the water, splashing and flailing back to shore so that he can be the first one to reach Jesus, while the others lug in their awesome haul. As the disciples make their way back to the shore, they smell something good and notice that Jesus has prepared a nice toasty fire with a couple of loaves of bread and some fish on the stove. Then they all share a very nice reunion brunch.

I think of how often that scene plays out in our careers. We all go through periods of beating our heads against the wall trying to make ends meet, doing our best to hit goal or meet projections, but nothing is happening. And maybe you haven't seen Jesus in a while, either. You are frustrated, despondent and exhausted, wondering why He hasn't shown up lately to help you out. "Why does he not understand my situation!" you think to yourself.

Then Jesus breezes in and says, "Hi! Watcha doin'?" It seemed like he wasn't paying much attention to you, but maybe it was the other way around.

The truth is that Jesus knows much, much more about your little situation than you give him credit for. He usually has a plan, too, but for some reason He doesn't think we always need to know about it. But this is what I do know: Jesus cares deeply about the details of our business as much as he cares about any other aspect of our lives. He knows how hard we work, how important our jobs are, and how discouraging and bleak our circumstances can be at times. And although he may not necessarily create a magical path to success for our every endeavor, he certainly is active, moving and breathing in and among our very existence, flowing through all of our creative efforts.

We should not hesitate for one second to ask Jesus to help us with our jobs, because he obviously wants to be involved. Sometimes he may even surprise us with a big catch, followed by a lovely brunch to celebrate.

Or, he may decide to send in a consultant.

Image by Kevin Schoenmakers. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.

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