Are Some People DISQUALIFIED From Ministry?

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Not everyone is qualified to serve and lead in the Lord’s church.

“Now, I urge you brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them”  (Romans 16:17).

Not everyone is qualified to serve and lead in the Lord’s church.

Don’t miss that — “to serve and to lead.”

In the Lord’s work, serving and leading often consist of the same activities, performed by the same people. The Lord’s best servants are the congregation’s best leaders. Those who lead best are humble servants willing to stoop and wash the feet or rise and lead the charge, whatever the situation requires.

The one unwilling to serve is unqualified to lead.

Recently, a pastor told me about a staff member his church had been considering bringing on board. When she balked at a background check, refusing to let the leadership look into her history, all the red flags went up and they called a halt to the proceedings. Something in her background apparently worked against her usefulness to that church. Finding this out before she came on board may have helped the church avoid a major problem.

The list of factors which disqualify people from serving and leading in the Lord’s church is endless, as it would include unbelief, a carnal lifestyle, moral problems, criminal records, a history of violence and so on.

However, there is a more selective list of conditions which disqualify otherwise good and respectable church members from serving and leading:

1. You are not qualified to serve/lead if you are unwilling to work in the background without recognition.

If you require recognition and appreciation, we will continue in our search for workers, thank you.

It’s not that you might be required to work in the unseen background, but your unwillingness to do so says volumes about your spiritual condition. A couple of verses come to mind …

“If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Galatians 6:3). “Through the grace given to me, I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment … ” (Romans 12:3).

2. You are unqualified to lead if you do not like change.

If you get saved, you change. If you grow, you change. If you go to Heaven, you change big time.

To restate, all growth is change. Growth into Christlikeness is major change. Eventually, the ultimate change comes when we see the Lord and become like Him (called “glorification” in Scripture; see I John 3:2). Speaking of that moment when we see the Lord and become like Him, the Apostle Paul said, “We shall all be changed” (I Corinthians 15:51,52).

To repent is to recognize the need for change in your life. No one satisfied with how things are repents.

The leader wed to the status quo is no leader, but a dead weight on the Lord’s program.

Joe McKeever Joe McKeever has been a believer over 60 years, has been preaching the Gospel over 50 years, and has been writing and cartooning for Christian Publications over 40 years. He lives in New Orleans.

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  • Jac

    While I don’t love conflict at all….I do see it as a good indicator that people in the church care about what is going on. So I agree with your point that we should not be looking for it, but I would add that if you avoid it completely or cannot navigate through it then you should not be a leader.

  • Pastor Misa

    Hi Jo! I like the article yet what if people are called to be leaders and God is processing them to that final destination…….I mean that no one is perfect and we are all still been moulded into what the Potter wants us to be. Thanks.

  • Melody

    Fantastic collumn!!

  • Joe McKeever

    Early in the article, I may have misstated something. I said criminal records disqualify a person from serving. A brother with just such a record, who was later saved and called into the ministry, challenged me on it. He’s right, of course. His background should not keep him from obeying the Lord’s call. I suppose what I intended to say was that if the leader is continually in trouble with the law, he/she should quit embarrassing the cause of Christ and leave the ministry. But I am all for the grace of God which can redeem the worst among us. I may have no criminal record, but I feel that I am (like a certain apostle) the chief of sinners.

    • brianmaddox

      Thank you for that correction. I’m a recovering drug addict with a criminal record. I’m also a full time staff leader at a church. So I can attest first hand to the grace of God in a person’s life and how God can use people regardless of where they came from. That being said, I would never hesitate to share any of my history to a church that was looking to hire me. It is neither a source of shame, nor a source of pride. It’s simply my story; a story of redemption no greater or lesser than anyone else’s. In my experience, anyone trying to hide their past is still in some way living in it. I prefer living on this side of my redemptive story.

  • rodney

    That little group constantly upset does NOT need to monopolize the Pastor’s attention or time. There are difficult people and there are difficult issues. Difficult issues can be resolved. Difficult people can never be satisfied and CANNOT be allowed to dominate the ministry of the Church. Anyone or group that is “constantly upset” is most likely driven by the carnal need to be in control. It is probably about feeding their own ego. #5 applies here.

  • Mark Davis

    I would venture to add to this list, people who avoid conflict are also disqualified. With that who really is “Qualified?” Sometimes we tend to think we merit our titles, and positions but really, as the Bible agrees, all authority is established by God. If we focus more on being kingdom minded instead of Church minded, maybe the “qualification list” could be broadened. I agree with some of the things listed, however the real question again is; Who really “is” qualified? The answer: Nobody. When that sinks in, I think we will be better leaders, as well as better delegators. I would venture to say, for the sake of the article, the only people who are not qualified, would be those who see ministry leading as a job/chore, or don’t really want to do it in the first place. Thoughts?

  • Lisa

    Thank you for the clear and thought-provoking article and re-statement. As it is stated in the first sentence, “to serve and to lead”. I agree with others that have commented to the effect that nobody is perfect on this earth, but if they have a servant’s heart and remain humble and teachable, they would more likely be better ‘qualified’ for ministering to the glory of God as representatives of Christ. If they want to serve and to lead, but are not humble or teachable, it would probably be best to first pray and then confront by speaking the truth in love to prevent any misunderstandings or possible harm, trusting the LORD to ultimately direct them.