Twice in my life I have been thrown into the professional “deep end” and been trusted to figure out how to swim.
The first was as a young teacher with lots of theology, but no education training. As the leader in my own classroom, I used the general skills that I had to help me create lesson plans, write tests, and present whatever material happened to be on the syllabus.
The second was as a slightly older, slightly more experienced adult who accepted the challenge of coordinating the largest Catholic youth conference in the country along with a couple of other meetings and conferences. Again, the skills that kept me afloat were the ones that I had honed over many years.
In neither case, I had been prepared with the the specific skills set that each job required. No education training. No conference management.
So there were times when I barely kept my head above water.
In both instances, there was someone there with more experience, more knowledge, more ideas, and I listened. I hung out in doorways. I drank endless cups of bad coffee early in the morning. I memorized the cadence of a sentence and the pattern of a conversation. I practiced and imitated the veterans, hoping to find a behavior or a word or a grin that fit and worked for me.
The apostles must have been thrown into the deep end many times–from the time they met Jesus to his death and Resurrection, and their eventual journeys in proclaiming the Gospel. With only their memories to serve them, they must asked themselves, “What did Jesus do? What would he say?”
Think about it. When have you been thrown into the deep end (or found yourself there by choice!)? What preexisting skills helped you keep your head above water? Who and what else did you need to comfortably stay afloat?