written by Rev Gary Heard

It’s that time of the year when AFL clubs begin to take a long look at their lists. When the year is all over, every player on the list will be scrutinised for their capacity to help build the next stage of success for the club. One word gets bandied around a lot: potential – a word full of hope on the one hand, and condemnation on the other.

When the word is applied to a player who has spent a few years on the club’s list, it invariably means that they have not fully realised the talent given to them. Some will be moved on to other clubs or delisted while a fortunate group of others will be given another opportunity to realise the potential which the recruiters initially saw in them. “Potential” becomes a word of condemnation, a statement that the player has not brought out what is latent within.

For a player at the start of the journey, however, “potential” becomes a statement of hope; a recognition from the outside that others see gifts and talents which contribute to the wellbeing of a greater cause. It is an affirmation that something quite constructive and creative lies just around the corner.

As beings created in the image of God, we are all endowed with wonderful potential: the power to love and create joy and beauty. Such potential is evident at every age and stage of life and is not merely confined to the young. When Jesus saw Simon and Andrew by the boat, he saw a potential in them which echoed in the call, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” When he saw the woman caught in adultery about to be stoned by her accusers, he declared afresh the potential he saw in her, “Go your way and live a new life (sin no more).” The attitude of Jesus to find potential in people the religious leaders had disregarded is replete through the gospels: a demon-possessed man, gentiles, tax-collectors, prostitutes. It echoes the heart of God who called an 80-year-old to deliver his people from slavery; and who chose an aged man to be the father of faith.

Our potential isn’t recognised in comparison to what others have achieved. It is found in the gifts and talents which are God-given, and which life circumstances can never take away. It is grounded in the Spirit’s presence in our lives.

Each week we bless one another with the words “The spark of God’s creativity rests upon you and within you in unique ways.” These are not idle words but a statement of the potential that is within us all. Will that potential be a statement of hope or condemnation?


September 7, 2008
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