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Everyone in the body of Christ is called to some level of leadership; however, just because we are called to be leaders does not mean we should seek leadership positions. God does the calling as well as the separating. He places the desire in your heart and the call on your life. You might have the desire to serve Him for years before the call is completely fulfilled, but in His timetable, He will see to it that doors open for you.

Are you wondering how to know when you should step into a leadership position? Here is the key to His separation to leadership: He will bring across your path an opportunity to accept responsibility, to accomplish a task which will invariably involve others' working in a support role. It might be a small task at first, or it may be bigger than you think you are ready to tackle. In any event, you will have the opportunity to accept it and move into a leadership role or to reject it and stay a career private. The choice will be yours. God provides an opportunity to step into a position of responsibility. But, ultimately, the choice is yours.

Authority and Responsibility
There are a lot of folks who are authority seekers. They want to be able to say, "You do this," or "You do that," or "Brother, I have a word for you." But you cannot rightfully assume authority without first being given responsibility.

Let me give you an example. As a parent, you have been given the responsibility for your children. So you have the authority to administer discipline to them. Do you have the authority to run over and apply the rod to your neighbor's children? Of course not! (Although you might wish you did!) But, the fact of the matter is that you have no responsibility for their lives. Your neighbor has been given the responsibility for raising those children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). You cannot run over there and exercise authority over them. No responsibility means no authority.

It works the same in the Kingdom of God. Responsibility always precedes authority. Yet, we have people trying to exercise authority when God has not given them the responsibility. Really what they are doing is usurping authority that belongs to someone else. That creates problems in any group or organization or body. The apostle John says an authority seeker loveth to have the preeminence among men (3 John 9).

These people are prone to strife and malicious words. They are never content with what another leader does. They seek authority over people; control is the bottom line. Stay away from this kind of person. Nothing good will come of an association with them.

The Key to Leadership
The key to exercising appropriate leadership authority is being faithful in the areas in which God has given you responsibility. For most of us that begins in the family unit. Just be patient and allow Him to promote you from there. Luke 16:12 sets forth a principle regarding responsibility and promotion in the Kingdom of God. And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?

Maybe you are an employee in another man's business. The profitability of that business is his responsibility. If you are faithful to function to the point that you contribute to that profitability, you are proving your faithfulness to him and his area of responsibility. Eventually you are going to be given that which is your own: your own department, your own division, maybe even your own business. But you must first be faithful to someone else's responsibility; then God will promote you.

This is a principle seen throughout the Word of God. You must first serve in order to qualify for leadership. We know Jesus was the greatest leader the world has ever known. Yet, didn't He also wash His disciples' feet? Didn't He also say He was a servant? This world-changer told His followers He came to serve, not to be served, and then He washed their feet.

Paul's Qualifications
Let's move forward into the Church age and see how Paul qualified his leaders. In Philippians 2, Paul prepared the church at Philippi for a visit from Timothy. As an emissary from Paul, Timothy had a lot of responsibility, as well as authority. Paul told the church of Timothy's qualifications for leadership, beginning in verse 20: For I have no one like him - no one of so kindred a spirit - who will be so genuinely interested in your welfare and devoted to your interests. For the others all seek [to advance] their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. But Timothy's tested worth you know, how as a son with his father he has toiled with me zealously [serving and helping to advance] the good news (the Gospel)" (Phil. 2:20-22).

Make note of this. Being a servant and taking a genuine interest in those over whom God makes you responsible is how you qualify for authority in the Kingdom of God.

Do you have a business? Are you genuinely interested in the welfare of your employees? Or are you basically motivated to generate a profit only for yourself? Are you in ministry? I could ask the same questions. Do you have a genuine interest in the people who are called to be a part of your work for God, or should you ask the Lord for more compassion?

What about your family? Do you have a genuine interest in your kids and in what they do? Do you have your spouse's best interests at heart? Are you willing to serve them in such a way that they will become what God wants, rather than what you want? If your church had a foot-washing service, could you wash the feet of your children? Your spouse?

According to the Word of God, these are the basic qualifications for advancement and promotion in the Kingdom of God.

God's leaders will never force, intimidate, coerce or push anyone into doing anything. Have you heard the saying, "You don't drive sheep; you drive cattle. You lead sheep"? Shepherds lead, and the sheep follow. That means you must be out in front, setting the example, in whatever arena you are a leader. First Peter 5:3 says, Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples [examples] to the flock. You must lead by example.

If, as a pastor, I have no desire to see people born again, or if I have the desire but will not translate that desire into action through witnessing and praying with people, how can I expect my church to be a soul-winning church? How can I expect my flock to do what I, as their shepherd, will not do?

There are occasions when I have to get on my face and repent. Say, for example, that I go home one day as "the big pastor," having just saved a failing marriage with my wonderful counseling. If then one of my kids does something wrong and I lose my temper and shout at them, how can I tell them not to lose their temper? It simply doesn't work. Thank God the blood of Jesus cleanses me from my sin, and I can ask my children for forgiveness and start over with them as well. But what is important is that we gain the wisdom of an old proverb my grandfather used to quote, "Sometimes what you do speaks so loudly that others cannot hear what you are saying."

Remember, God separates you unto leadership; He gives you the opportunities to prove yourself faithful.

Copyright © Mac Hammond Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Minute, which is seen locally in the Minneapolis area and can also be viewed at He is also the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.

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