The hugely successful reality show The Apprentice has begun its second season. A dispute has arisen over what lessons about business can be drawn from the first series, but what lessons can Christians learn from this show?
The television show brought together 16 young business people and entrepreneurs. These apprentices were vying for a position in Donald Trump’s organization. As Christians we are fortunate that we do not have to face such competition. No matter our age or background, God has called us. He does not choose just the best but wants everyone to know him.
After their selection, the apprentices were divided into two teams, although they all lived together in the same suite. While the teams and ultimately the apprentices themselves were constantly competing, they did form a community. Naturally, conflict and personality clashes occurred. Nevertheless they had to learn to live together. Within the teams the apprentices had to overcome these differences to compete. As Christians we have to work together to build our community. Differences over issues from daily problems to matters of theology do arise. We, too, have to deal with the resulting conflict and make our community work. While not everyone likes everyone else, a Christian community resolves to respect each individual. At the very least we can show tolerance and acceptance to those with whom we disagree. Unlike the apprentices, Christians in community have to transform the competitive environment and replace it with a co-operative one to accomplish their mission.
The apprentices each took turns acting as project managers. So Christians are also called upon to step up and take leadership roles. We may alternate between being leaders and followers depending on the circumstances. In either role we must give our best effort to successfully accomplish the task. Ideally everyone takes a turn in the leadership role.
At the beginning of each episode, Mr. Trump gave the two teams a task. The teams were usually given some resources, often seed money. Success was based on which team made the most money from the task. As Christians we too are given our tasks or ministries. They may be short-term projects or lifelong vocations. God also provides us with the resources we need. These resources are often beyond money such as insight, energy, and perseverance. Unfortunately success is harder to measure and often we do not see the results of our actions. For example, an event may draw a few people but have a major impact on their lives.
Success in the task often rested on the ability of the project manager and the other apprentices to work together. Apprentices who did not contribute to the task reduced the motivation and energy of the remaining team members. Conflict also reduced the effectiveness of the team. Christians also must ensure that they make a contribution to the mission of the church. Everybody has some role to play.
Unfortunately in each episode of the show there was a losing team. This team was sent to the boardroom to explain to Mr. Trump the reasons for the loss. Mr. Trump held the project manager responsible along with two other team members for the team’s poor performance. As Christians we are accountable to God for our actions throughout our lives. We, however, have a different experience than that of the apprentices in the ?boardroom.? No losing team exists. Our loving God wants us to do well and succeed at the ministries he has set before us. We are not competing among ourselves and forced to blame each other when tasks do not succeed.
Ultimately at the end of each episode Mr. Trump fired one apprentice who is then out of the competition. God does not judge then eliminate people. Rather he forgives us and gives us more than one chance. The objective is to grow the body of Christ not to diminish it.
In the finale of the series only one apprentice obtained the desired position in the Trump organization. As Christians we can all get to the desired goal that is being closer to God and ultimately to heaven. He grants salvation to all who believe.
While certain similarities between the two situations do exist, there are crucial differences. Fortunately Christians can experience a more loving and supportive world than that portrayed in the television series. The Christian’s world is one of hope. The emphasis is on inclusiveness and growth. All things considered, being God’s Apprentice is much easier and more rewarding than that of Donald Trump. Christopher Broadbent is a parishioner of St. Barnabas church, St. Lambert, in the diocese of Montreal .