“Do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (II Corinthians 3:1b-3)
Many of us in Christian ministry have been asked for, or have sent, resumes and letters of recommendation. It is a pretty common aspect of ministry: we present our ministry experience, credentials, and accomplishments — or commend those things in others. But the words of the Apostle Paul in this passage might lead us to re-think the process some — or at least cause us to re-evaluate what we consider our “accomplishments” in ministry in light of them.
Paul asks, “Do we need … letters of commendation?” And then he asserts, “YOU are our letter”! Paul says, we have something better than a resume of accomplishment, or letter of recommendation. He indicated that the people to whom he had ministered were in fact his best “letter of recommendation”: those whom he had won to Christ; whom he had discipled, and into whose lives he had poured his own.
Granted, this is a different set of “accomplishments” than ministers often tout on resumes. Often cited are such things as degrees earned, buildings built, denominational positions served, etc. But Paul listed none of those sorts of things. Instead he talked about the PEOPLE who were in his heart; how they were “cared for by us”; and of what God had accomplished in their lives through His Spirit. These PEOPLE, and what God had done in them through him, were Paul’s real “resume”!
His words here ought to spur some soul-searching among those in ministry, not only regarding what ought to be on our resumes and letters of recommendation, but as to what we consider real “success” in God’s Kingdom work. When you look back on your ministry, what are you most proud of: a building that now stands? A certain denominational position you held? Or can you point to PEOPLE who have been saved, discipled, and whose lives have been changed through your ministry — people you love, and who will love you, forever? In the end, Paul says, THEY are your real “resume.”