If I were to ask about your favorite individual in the Bible, I know who wouldn’t come up in your top 5. Actually, if I asked your favorite apostle, I know who wouldn’t top your list (other than one J. Iscariot!).
Andrew was one of Jesus’s twelve apostles and he’s only mentioned twelve times in the whole Book, four of those times simply listing the apostles. Even though he didn’t headline any miracles nor was he named a pillar of the church, I admire him.
The first time we see Andrew, he’s with John the Baptist. Jesus passes by John and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Andrew and another man follow Jesus and end up staying with him, but here’s the best part: Andrew gets up, runs to his brother, and tells him “We have found the Messiah!” Other than his mom and John the Baptist, in Jesus’s adult life, Andrew is the first one to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and the first apostle to be called to follow him.
There’s several lessons to learn from our pal Andrew, so let’s break ’em down:
1 – You may have a season as a Peter, but you’ll most likely live as an Andrew.
Andrew was Peter’s brother — talk about living in a shadow! Jesus called Peter to be the rock on which he built his church, and Andrew? He was probably there clapping.
There may be a time when God asks you to step up into a greater role than you had planned for yourself. He may ask you to be the Peter of your profession, your community, or in how you serve. But we know that not everyone can be a Peter in the same way that not everyone can be Bill Gates, Malala, or Steve Irwin. Not everyone is called to the mountaintops, to the first-place stand, or to the front pages. We know those are lonely spots that are ridden with backslides and difficult climbs.
I’m convinced that Andrew was a people-watcher. He saw the good, bad, and ugly of everyone and still chose to be a tool in God’s grand plan to save humanity. God may never ask you to be a Peter, but he’ll always need you to live like Andrew and support, encourage, and build up those around you.
2 – What an Andrew brings to the table is as important as what Peter brings to the table.
I’ve tried to imagine the family dinners these brothers had and wondered if there was ever any competition in being on Team Jesus. Honestly, I think it’s a testament to their parents because Andrews – at the beginning – are rarely okay with where they’re at. They’ve been raised to do the very best they can, to earn as much as they can, to achieve the cultural rank they want, to marry the right spouse… and it’s hard for me to believe that there was never a moment when Andrew thought, “I’ll never be as good as my brother.”
If you’re a sibling, you know what I mean. There’s ultimately two directions that thought takes you: 1) to the “I’ll show him” state of mind, or 2) to the spiral of “If I’ll never be good enough, I should stop trying now.” Both directions are unfulfilling and show lack of maturity, but here we have a brother who cares more about a win for the team than for himself.
And you know what’s cool? Andrew and Peter experienced most of the miracles together; they were equals in that. They were shoulder to shoulder, and Andrew was far more concerned with the mission than trying to be better than his brother.
3 – God doesn’t expect you to lead like Peter, but he does expect you to lead like Andrew.
Like we said in the first one, not everyone is going to be a frontline leader like Peter. While it takes bravery to step into that spotlight and show your insecurities and battle scars, I’d also like to think it takes great courage to remain in the wings.
God doesn’t expect all of us to lead like Peter because then we’d all just be talking at each other – no one would be listening! But Andrew’s leadership qualities are these: humility, wisdom, listening, note-taking, sharing the bench, patience, and loyalty. Ask any business leader anywhere and they’ll tell you that while experience is important, a leader needs to be teachable, humble, curious, and intentional — all things that Andrew exemplifies.
Andrew represents the best, most healthy version of ourselves as followers of Jesus. He expects us to strive for those qualities because they are good. After all, it’s echoed in Philippians, “Whatever is good, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
4 – You can’t have a Peter without an Andrew.
Finally, the honest truth. It was no coincidence that Andrew was with John the Baptist that day we meet him first. It was no coincidence that Jesus walked by that day, either.
In the book of John, we see Andrew notice and follow Jesus and then run to tell Peter about him (John 1:35-42). In Matthew’s account, we see the classic story of Jesus walking up to Peter and Andrew while they fished, saying, “Follow me, and I’ll make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-22). I think both are true because the immediate acceptance from the story in Matthew wouldn’t have happened without the introduction in John.
I used to struggle with the idea that some people are destined for greatness and others are simply there to support the great. But that’s the wrong perspective. Andrew made a connection for Peter that likely wouldn’t have happened on its own: Andrew brought Peter to meet Jesus. Had he not done that, we might not have the same teachings we do today. Essentially, Andrew’s greatest accomplishment (and maybe his biggest purpose on Earth) was to provide Jesus the perfect tool to set up his church. The magnitude of that moment cannot be understated.
There are so many “greats” in the Bible that epitomize who we want to be, but God has not called me to be a Noah, an Esther or a Paul. This doesn’t mean that I stop trying to be as accomplished as possible, but it frees me to seek out ways to lift others up instead.