Credentials–1 John 3:10

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. –1 John 3:10

Half a dozen of my colleagues are in the process of hiring a new member of our faculty. They’ll sift through a stack of perhaps seventy-five applications in hopes of finding the best possible person. Happily, after serving on three hiring committees over the past three years, I’m not involved in this hunt, but I know the drill. Essentially, this search process operates on two levels.

The first of these two levels is what I’d like to look at first. It involves looking for reasons to throw people out of the pile. I suppose I could evaluate seventy-five applications, but I’d much rather evaluate five or ten. That’s why when I’m going through the stack, I hunt for disqualifiers. The job posting provides the route to that.

“Masters degree in English required,” the posting reads. As I go through the stack, I find people with education degrees, art history degrees, business degrees, and so forth. Last year we had a lawyer with no English degree whatsoever. Those people drop out of the race immediately. We do a similar job on teaching experience. If they haven’t taught at the college level, they’re gone.

The second level of the search involves discovering who among the survivors has the other necessary skills. Eventually we get to hear several of them teach and answer questions. Usually, if somebody is a decent teacher, they can make that obvious in about five minutes. Similarly, if they have lots of ideas coursing through their mind, it’ll come through quickly in the question period.

In the end, the applicants’ credentials will separate the wheat from the chaff. Then it’s a process of picking from among the top two or three candidates. Usually we know that any of those top candidates would be okay if we hired them. That’s a reassuring situation.

Credentials are important in many areas of life. Perhaps that’s why John spends so much time focused on how we know the people of God and the people of Satan from each other. In two and half chapters, we’ve seen this topic reappear perhaps six times. Why? It’s because whose we are is the single most important thing we can ever know. My spiritual credentials don’t show up on my resume, but they hopefully do show up in my broader life. Do yours?