How many of you think that you could have more branches of your church if you just had enough qualified leaders to lead them?
How many of you think that you would be able to reach far more people if you just had enough qualified leaders to help you reach them?
How many of you think that you would be able to have far more departments and ministries in your church if you just had enough qualified leaders to lead them?
It seems that one of the struggles every leader has is:
- Finding great leaders for ministry
- Finding gifted leaders who want to serve a key leadership role in the church.
It seems that many of the best and the brightest young leaders never even think about ministry.
Some are thinking, why do we need the ‘best and brightest’ in ministry?
- What we need is people who are called of God
- Is “being called” the question we should be asking?
- Is it enough to say, “the anointing” makes the difference?
- Are we correct in saying that “God equip those he calls”
1 Corinthians 1:25-29
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
God specializes in doing extraordinary things through ordinary people, but when we apply this passage to being called to ministry, we use it as an excuse to justify not have smart and strong and skilled people in ministry.
- This passage is actually talking about God’s call to salvation, not God’s call to ministry.
1. The Problem with the idea of “Calling”
We say things like, or we like to hear things like:
I feel/I believe/ that God has called me to ministry
I heard from God
God spoke to me
1.1. When we look for people to fill leadership positions on our team,
we look for someone who is “called”
What about being “Called.”
My subjective call to ministry.
I am not a “God spoke to me this morning” kind of Christian, but I promise you God spoke to me.
My call to ministry came as I was walking out of church on a Sunday morning in August 1980.
1.2. The problem with the idea of “calling” is that it’s…subjective.
- If you say you are called—that you’ve heard from God—who can really argue with that? You just played the God card.
- It assumes that every person who is called to serve in leadership in a church has to have a subjective, personal experience of God telling them that’s exactly what they should do
- If someone says they are called, that puts pressure on you to find them a place, or to put them into leadership because they say, “I am called.”
- What if someone feelscalled and is totally sincere, but is sincerely wrong?
- What if, because our sense of calling has become so subjective, we have allowed people into ministry who shouldn’t be in ministry?
- What if people who are smart and who are great at leadership are not in ministry because they didn’t experience a subjective call into ministry
What if there is another way, that might be as scriptural, or maybe more scriptural than using “calling” as the main criteria for ministry?
1 Corinthians 12:1, 4-7, 27-31
1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant ……….. 4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all …………. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Paul does not say if you have the gift of leadership, then lead if you feel a subjective sense of calling to lead.
- He says if you have the gift of leadership, then lead with all diligence. No conditions.
- Paul does not say, if you feel you are called as an apostle, then you are an apostle.
- He does not say if God told you that you are an evangelist, you are an evangelist.
- He simply says God made some people to be apostles and evangelists and others to be pastors, etc.
- Feelings don’t have anything to do with it - gifting does.
1.3. Simple translation: if you have the gift then use it
Maybe there is another perspective than “God equips the called".
2. What if, God calls the equipped?
4 Though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
Paul has a very impressive CV
- He has every reason to be confident in the flesh – human ability.
- We know that human skill is nothing compared to the grace that comes in and through Jesus Christ.
2.1. What if God used Paul’s training and background in law and
theology to spread Christianity rapidly through his leadership?
2.2 Instead of equipping the called, God called the equipped
- Paul was gifted, he was skilled, he was trained and God wanted those gifts, skills and training in the ministry
For every Paul there’s a Moses (shepherd on a hill).
- But Moses spent time in a royal court. So did Joseph. So did Daniel.
- When you read the stories of leaders like Moses, Joseph and Daniel in the Old Testament, it’s like reading a leadership textbook.
- Some of the lessons learned in those courts must have rubbed off.
Is it possible that God called them because they were equipped?
If you study scripture from that perspective, you realize that God uses a person’s skill and talent for his higher purposes.
- If we really believe that a person’s gifting is from God, then doesn’t it make sense that God will use a person’s gifting to accomplish his plans?
- Having skills and gifts (which will work even outside the ministry) doesn’t disqualify a person from ministry any more than not having them (initially) does.
3. What qualifies a person for Church Leadership then?
- Every Christian is called to ministry, whether that’s in a volunteer role or a full time role, we all have a contribution to make in ministry.
- But for leaders on a church team there are 4 key areas I want to look at.
How do you identify new leaders for your ministry?
What do you look for when you want to appoint new leaders?
Most often the first thing we look for is competence.
- The truth is that no matter how competent a person may be – they can’t be in Christian leadership without character.
1 Timothy 3:1-7
This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop,[a] he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
3.1.1. Character comes before competence or ability
- Character of a church leader is of utmost importance
- Character should be of the highest caliber.
- It is character and not competence that determines capacity as a leader.
Think of gifted cyclists, golfers, football players, preachers and politicians who all lost careers and the future God was giving them.
- How many stumbled because of competency issues?
- How many stumbled because of character?
- What snared them wasn’t related to skill or ability, but to character: cheating, embezzlement, corruption, sex, greed or ego (or a combination of the above) did them in.
All the competency in the world does not compensate for a lack of character.
3.1.2. When you look for character in a potential leader, what do you
Honesty Heart Kindness
Faithfulness Trustworthiness Humility
Compassion Courage Faithfulness
Patience Perseverance Self-control
It’s much easier to go on a course on “How to be a better communicator” than it is to work on a bad temper or selfishness and unkindness.
It’s much easier to study a book on how to be a better manager, than it is to figure out why you lie.
Your competency leaves the first impression, but your character leaves the lasting impression.
The crowd is intrigued by your competency, but your family is impacted by your character.
3.1.3. How do you measure character development?
It would be great if you could get a simple reading like you would for your cholesterol or blood pressure. Then you’d know.
A simple Test that can be done in about 1 minute
- Think about the last crisis situation you faced - at home, at work, in your family—or any situation in which you had to respond quickly to conflict or challenging circumstances.
- Your kids started a huge fight while you were trying to study
- Your came up with a great idea to do something with your spouse and he/she thought it was a really bad idea
- Nobody agreed with or liked your ideas at the meeting
- A key part of the service was missing on Sunday because someone else messed up
- You got stuck in the longest line at the bank and it made you late for your next meeting?
- You received a letter or an email criticizing your leadership?
How did you respond to the crisis.
Try to isolate how you felt and how you behaved.
Your answer will tell you exactly where your character is.
- Be honest.
- What did you think?
- What did you say?
- What did you do?
- What did you learn after your last crisis?
That is the true state of your character.
3.1.4. Crisis reveals character.
- Nothing reveals the true state of your character better than how you handled your last crisis.
3.2.1.Competency is a direct expression of gifting.
- Often, the church ignores it for the sake of finding someone who is “called.”
As a result, in the church:
- We hire nice people over truly gifted people.
- We hire people in need of work rather than people who can fulfill a mission.
- Those with the gift of leadership pursue careers in the market place because they are gifted but don’t feel “called” to ministry.
- The marketplace claims some of the best Christian leaders.
- Yet those are the kinds of leaders the church needs.
Today’s church demands today’s best leadership
The simplest way to tell if a person is gifted as a leader?
- Look to see who is following them.
- If high capacity people are following the person you’re looking at, they’re definitely a leader.
- If nobody’s following them, or the type of people following them are questionable, that should tell you a story, no matter how called they are.
3.3.1. There should be conviction that the church is worth the full
investment of their best time, best energy and even entire life.
- What if there are numbers of leaders who would go into full time ministry if they knew that character, competency and conviction were enough?
- What if there are numbers of leaders who are convicted that the church is supremely important, but they’ve just never thought their gifts could be put to use in it, because they did not experience a subjective sense of calling?
I know of leaders who are leading major ministries who never experience a subjective ‘call’.
- They would all say they simply volunteered.
- God has used them powerfully – because their character, competency and conviction are second to none.
- If they had waited for a subjective call, they might still be waiting.
3.4.1. Always remember that you are not only filling a position, you are
also building a team.
- Some people are just not team players
- Some people disrupt the unity and harmony of a team
3.4.2. Do they get along with the other members on the team?
3.4.3. Do they bring out the best in those around them?
3.4.4. Do they respect, affirm, and energize you?
3.4.5. Do their personal values correspond with the values of the
God has not created us all with the same temperaments, personalities and gifts, but it is important that a team honors each other’s differences and utilizes each other’s differences and strengths.
But what if that’s not required?
- If there’s a recognized leaderwho has the character, competency and conviction and chemistry, maybe you should just ask them.
- If there’s a studentor young leader or entrepreneur who has never thought about leadership in the church, but has the character, competency, conviction, and chemistry, think about getting them on your team.
- When you appoint people to the leadership team in your church, maybe ask candidates if they experienced and sense of calling, but don’t let the lack of calling be fatal. Look for character, competency and conviction.
Maybe that’s enough.
- Maybe ask them to volunteer somewhere so you can check out the chemistry.
The local church is the hope of the world and it’s future rests primarily in the hands of its leaders.
The legacy of a leader is not in how many followers he gathers, but in how many leaders he produces.