Clear Your Desk and Take Out a Piece of Paper

The 260 Journey
The 260 Journey
Clear Your Desk and Take Out a Piece of Paper

Day 162

Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 13

Charles Schwab’s CEO, Walt Bettinger, opened the vault to the Schwab test he uses for potential high-level hires. He told the New York Times that we can discover a person’s character by the ways they respond during times of great pressure and distress. So before each new hire, to test out the job candidate to see how they react when things don’t go according to plan, Bettinger takes the potential employee out for a breakfast interview. What the candidate doesn’t know is that before they arrive, Bettinger asks the restaurant staff to purposefully mess up the order in exchange for a substantial tip.

His “wrong order” test helps him see how prospective hires deal with adversity. “Are they upset, are they frustrated, or are they understanding? Life is like that, and business is like that,” he said. “It’s just another way to look inside their heart rather than their head.”

In the same interview with the Times, Bettinger shared one of his own biggest failures. After spending hours studying for a final college exam, he went to class ready to figure out calculations. Instead the professor handed to each student a blank sheet of paper.

“The professor said, ‘I’ve taught you everything I can teach you about business in the last ten weeks,” Bettinger recalled. “But the most important message, the most important question, is this: What’s the name of the lady who cleans this building?”

Bettinger had no idea. He failed the exam, got a B in the class, and ruined his 4.0 average. But it taught him an important lesson on recognizing individuals “who do the real work.”

“That had a powerful impact,” he said. “Her name was Dottie, and I didn’t know Dottie. I’d seen her, but I’d never taken the time to ask her name.”

Since then, he admits he’s “tried to know every Dottie I’ve worked with.”

That failure in college became an important reminder of what truly matters in life.

Two tests that people never saw coming. The wrong-order test and the name-of-the-lady test.

We encounter a very important we-never-saw-it-coming test in today’s chapter. The apostle Paul goes all “Charles Schwab” on the church people. It’s sobering. After coming to the end of 2 Corinthians, we are almost blindsided by the “clear your desk and take out a piece of paper” announcement—which means a test is coming:

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. (2 Corinthians 13:5-6)

I hate tests. But this is one I can’t take lightly. This is not for a science or an English grade. This is about eternity. So now the big questions: How do we test ourselves? How do we ensure we don’t fail this test?

Paul tells us it’s a test to recognize if Jesus is in you. D Martyn Lloyd Jones said:

“A Christian is the result of the operation of God, nothing less, nothing else. No man can make himself a Christian; God alone makes Christians.” So how do we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith?

Since God does the birthing, we should have His birthmarks. God gave us some birthmarks if we have been born again. Birthmarks that look like His family likeness. We find those in 1 John. The apostle John uses the phrase born of God over and over, giving us the birthmark. If we are born of God, then we have the life of God and we pass the test.

Let me give you a few of those birthmarks, which can help us on the “see if you are in the faith” test. Look at this verse from 1 John: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God” (1 John 3:9, NIV).

Christians are not sinless, but we will sin less and less, because we are born of God. Here’s another: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God” (1 John 4:7, NIV). A love for people comes to those born of God.

Here’s one more from 1 John: “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4, NIV). When you are born of God, your mind starts to renew and you don’t think about things and assess things as you used to. 

Before someone is born again, the Bible says, “we are dead,” dead in trespasses and sins. The way we see if someone is not dead is to check their pulse. Is that vital organ, called the heart, showing a pulse? The heart must be beating. These passages from 1 John help us know if the heart is beating. As Soren Kierkegaard said, “It is so much easier to become a Christian when you aren’t one than to become one when you assume you already are.”

Paul’s see-if-you’re-in-the-faith test is serious and reminds us not to assume anything.