One of the most controversial things about Jesus was the company that he kept. He would frequently associate with tax collectors, lepers, ‘sinners’ and others who the religious authorities were quick to write off and think the worst of.

Whilst Jesus did not deny the very real flaws that people had, he did not focus on these flaws, nor did he allow the flaws to define the person. Rather, Jesus saw past the flaws to the person, created in the image of God, and he enjoyed spending time with that person and had faith for what they could become. 

Andrew Carnegie once compared the way people are developed to the way gold is mined. He said, “Several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold… but you don’t go into a mine looking for dirt, you go looking for gold. That’s exactly the way to develop positive people. Look for the gold, not the dirt: the good, not the bad. The more positive qualities you look for, the more you are going to find.”

A great example of this is in the way that Jesus engaged with Matthew. Matthew was a tax collector, but Jesus saw him as a friend. By even going to Matthew’s house, Jesus drew criticism from those around him who could only see the dirt in him, and yet Jesus had seen something else in him – there was the bravery to endure the harsh criticisms that he was receiving, the commitment to lay down his job to follow Jesus, and the generosity and hospitality to throw a great party. Over the next few years, Jesus invested in Matthew’s life and brought to the fore the gold that he had seen. 

Think the Best Culture at CCM

At Christ Church Manchester, it is a non-negotiable that we treat people with positivity and respect. We assume the best of one another (and of others), and we look for gold.

The story of Jesus and Matthew provides an excellent illustration of what this looks like:

First, we give each other time. In Ancient Middle Eastern culture, there was something significant about eating with another person. By sharing a meal at Matthew’s house, Jesus was giving him dignity. According to Jeremias, “To invite a man to a meal was an honour… it was an offer of peace, trust, brotherhood and forgiveness.” At Christ Church Manchester, we want to honour one another with our time, our hospitality and our friendship.

It also means that we help people to find an environment where they can thrive. After Matthew left his tax booth, over the next few months he was part of a community of disciples that saw Jesus raise a dead girl, heal a bleeding woman, open the eyes of two blind men, cast out an evil spirit, preach in many towns and heal many diseases. In this community, Matthew learned far more than any classroom could teach him, and he also had access to Jesus for ‘behind the scenes’ chats about what was happening. At CCM, community is key and we all have lots to learn from each other. We place a high priority on our midweek community groups, and we offer lots of training to help you to develop and thrive.

In addition, a Think the Best culture means that you will be trusted to take responsibility and have a go at using your spiritual gifts. It means that you are surrounded by people who have faith for your future – even when you find hope difficult for yourself. And it means that when you try something and it doesn’t work, or even when you make moral mistakes, that those failings don’t come to define you but there will always be a second chance for you (and a third, and a fourth…), just like there was for Matthew and the rest of the disciples.

The thing about a think the best culture, is that it actually brings out the best in people. John Maxwell says, “Anyone can see people as they are. It takes a leader to see what they can become, encourage them in that direction and believe that they will do it. People always grow towards leaders’ expectations.” Jesus thought the best of Matthew, and Matthew grew into those expectations – becoming a key leader in the early church, and the author of the gospel bearing his name – and we have found at CCM that as we think the best of people, they tend to step up and do very well indeed.