There’s a popular church leadership meme being bandied around social media platforms making the following claim: “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”
People love these biblically incorrect memes because they sound good and on first reading, seem to make sense. After all, what man is perfectly qualified, fully equipped, and resounding in wisdom to immediately step into a church leadership position and be perfect at it? God needs to “qualify” all He calls by enabling and empowering them to accomplish what He has called them to.
At the same time, that popular meme is biblically incorrect because we do find that God has provided in the New Testament some qualifications for anyone being considered for a pastoral, elder, or deacon position in His church. In that sense, God does call those who meet His qualifications.
Could it be a major contributing factor to the high turnover of pastors quitting ministry, especially within the first five years of “responding to the call,” is that we’re ordaining and putting into church leadership positions many men who do not meet the qualifications recorded in the New Testament for church office? The idea that there aren’t biblical qualifications which a man MUST meet in order to be ordained into ministry is not a biblical one, and is a dangerous path to seeing biblically unqualified men filling leadership roles in the church. Even business leaders see the need for some kind of standard for leadership, as illustrated in this story shared by pastor Davon Huss:
“Gene Getz was leading some Bible studies on the qualifications of church leaders. Two men were there who were new Christians and had little knowledge of the Bible. After a few sessions these two men said, “You know this is the first time we’ve heard this list of qualifications from the Bible. But we’ve learned from experience in hiring people for management positions that this is the kind of men we’re looking for. We want men who have a good reputation. We don’t want a man who is cheating on his wife or sleeping around, because chances are, he’ll cheat the company. We certainly don’t want a man who has all kinds of domestic problems. If he can’t handle his own family, how in the world is he going to handle people in a steel mill?”
So if you’re looking for someone to fill a position of pastor, or elder, or deacon, don’t sit back and accept just anyone applying for the position, thinking, “It’s okay, God will qualify them!” Instead, start by looking to the Bible to see the qualifications God has established for those He does call. Two “lists of qualifications” can be found in 1 Timothy 3: 1-7 (also verses 8-12 for the position of deacon) and Titus 1:5-9. Candidates for the position of pastor, elder, or deacon should be examined in light of these biblical qualifications for the positions.
Yes, God does “qualify the called” because they cannot even meet His qualifications without His transforming work in their lives, but He also calls those who are qualified according to the standards He has set.
This article originally appeared here.