One of the great qualifiers is not what we know but how we have handled the tough times.
There are many lists that we could quote. There are many character qualities that these lists
could demand of us. However, God qualifies those that He calls. The following principles are part
of the life experience that disciples are brought through to prepare them in God’s program of
becoming qualified for ministry.
Handling the Hard Times
How we handle the hard times will ultimately determine our qualification.
Can you think of some biblical examples where the preparation for ministry brought the prospective
leader through some hard times?
What do you see as the purpose for these difficulties?
What was the result?
Think about Joseph, Abraham and his time of testing by God, David, the journey of Israel from
Egypt to Canaan, the disciples in the storm and when they denied Jesus. Part of the reality of preparation
for any ministry is that we can know the doctrines, pass the tests, and satisfy the interviews, but the proof
is in the living it out. Until we have proven the doctrines of faith, purity, repentance and so forth, they
remain largely untested principles. The discipler is one who is called to not only teach truths, but he is
called to help people apply those truths through life experience.
There is perhaps a difference between qualifications for leadership in the Church and
qualifications to minister as disciplers. Some of the things brought out in the discussion above
about dealing with the hard times apply not only to leaders but to all Christians. The purpose here
is not so much for leadership as pastors and deacons but as disciplers working together.
II Peter 1:3-11 shows more than the mere understanding of grace through faith. It describes
how someone can progress to the place of love and to keep from falling by applying the elements
of Christian character.
Someone may then say, “How can you teach me to overcome alcoholism or drug addiction
if you have never been there to see how God would handle it?”
The reality is that we all have life controlling problems that we have had to deal with
beginning with the reality of sin. It is powerful, alluring, progressive, deceptive and destructive.
Every disciple who will minister to others must have learned much about how to overcome. Theory
is not enough.
What is faithfulness, and how is it developed?
Consistency is a prime quality in any who will minister to another. Can you think of some
of the consequences of being unfaithful in ministry?
Faithfulness as a quality for ministry needs to first be displayed in Christian workers through
their consistency in life, worship, and family. Consider the following verses and how they may apply
as a qualification for service.
Matt 24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his
household, to give them meat in due season?
1 Tim 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful,
putting me into the ministry;
Rev 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you
into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death,
and I will give thee a crown of life.
Rev 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord
of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
In Matthew Jesus speaks about faithfulness in watching and in being consistently occupied
with serving and ministering. It is a premium in the Kingdom of God and it needs to be a premium
in qualifications to minister to others.
Paul was called because he was seen as faithful in heart, not because he was perfect or had
less sin in his life than others. Neither was he called because he was gifted. Gifts are not
qualifications. Too many people accept or reject themselves or others because of the issue of talents,
abilities, gifts, and not because of character.
Paul was an ambassador for Christ, and as such, others would see the image of God in him.
If he was seen as unfaithful, others would assume that neither is God faithful.
In Rev. 2 we see that God is after a servant who has been proven through trials to be faithful.
Too many people today are anxious to minister but have not developed the quality of faithfulness
under fire. When things get difficult they quit. It must not be so with those who would be a fisher
Rev. 17 shows that those who will ride with Jesus in the final days of battle will be those who
are not only called and chosen, but those who were faithful with their calling. Many people today
say they will do something in the church, but when you turn around they have faded away from their
commitments. Problems come when we allow unfaithful people into positions of ministry. Some
will say that their life responsibilities have changed. The Bible indicates that a good worker will not
become so entangled in this world that he is not able to be faithful. Faithfulness is not defeated when
we can not answer the “bell.” It is defeated before the bell sounds when we say yes to things in the
world that will one day keep us from being faithful in ministry. Can you think of any exceptions?
After over 30 years, I can not.
There has been a debate over the years about what should come first, the family or the
ministry. Take some time to discuss this. Consider what Jesus said about leaving father and mother,
and who He said were His mother and His brothers.
Matt. 19:29; Mark 3:33f; Luke 14:25f
Some feel that to put the ministry first will cause the family never to be neglected, and that
proper ministry is proved out first in one’s family. Others feel that when it comes to choosing one
over the other when time conflicts arise teaches the family the proper priorities of life when ministry
comes first in obedience to these scriptures. Though there are varying opinions, the point of this is
that each person must have addressed this in their hearts and with their families. Too much harm
has been done because families have been put in second place because of hidden personal ambitions
and motives, and root problems. Then there are others who have hidden behind their families from
the call of God to minister.
It’s Who You Are
One day when I wanted to write a discipleship course I asked the Lord about it. He simply
said, “You have to be a disciple before you can make a disciple.” What we do in ministry must
come from who we are. If we are faking it, we will burn out before too long. In the qualifications
for ministry the consistent lesson here has been fidelity....being the genuine article. How can you
tell if you’re genuine? (Hint - How we respond to the hard times will tell a lot about what’s on the
Staying In The Word
Jesus said that to bear fruit we must abide in Him and His Word. John 15:1-8. Many people
are like Moses when he was first called. What was the basic lesson that Moses had to learn when
he was first called?
Too many people have a lot of self confidence, not knowing that they can accomplish
nothing for God with the confidence that comes from human abilities and gifts. A vital qualification
for ministry is living in and by the Word of God. It has been rightly said many times that the
number one thing that any minister needs is more of God’s Word. The moment we come to the place
where we can “minister” without time in His Word, we are on the road to failure in fanaticism,
philosophies, and the vulnerabilities that Satan knows about us very well. The person that spends
plenty of time in the Word, and in prayer, has learned that apart from God he can do nothing.
Everyone else still believes that they can do it on their own.
Staying The Course
“If you don’t know that I love you, you’re not going to make it.” This is a Word from
the Lord that one of our team members received when we were on the road. If ever there was a
qualification in ministry that would save someone’s own sanity, victory and peace it would be
knowing the implications of God’s love for them. It must not be a theory, an acknowledged truth,
or a doctrinal certainty alone. The place of ministry will be strongly contested by principalities
and powers. You know what Ephesians 6 says about what we are wrestling with. These weapons
of our warfare must become the tools of God’s love applied through our lives.
What are some of the real life lessons along with the Word of God that have “saved your
lives” in the trenches of Christian work? These lessons often form the qualifications that cause us
to finish well the race that we run.
I have said it many times to people who have wanted to be involved in more ministry - “If
there’s anything else you can do, do it, for then you probably aren’t called by God to do this
thing.” Many have gone ahead anyway and have failed, often with much heartache.
Two things stand out to me that I have learned, and that I feel mark the making or breaking
of many people who will take up a call to minister to others. The first is from Matthew 16 where
Jesus gave Peter his identity. Accompanied with the truths of Jesus temptation in the wilderness in
Luke 4, we see that having a definite, deep revelation of who we are in Christ is absolutely
essential. If course, this revelation is not seen as we look inward at ourselves, but upward as we see
who Jesus is. To truly know Him is to find an increasing revelation of who we are. What do you
see as some of the dangers involved in not being properly grounded in this?
The lack of revelation knowledge on this has done as much harm as anything through
insecure, defensive and manipulative attitudes. The so called “Jezebel spirit” of manipulation and
control works from this ill prepared foundation. Either we become controllers or controlled through
what the world calls insecurity. It seems that the biblical counterpart to this insecurity is false
humility, pride and fear.
To stay the course in ministry requires a godly strength that does not fear what man can do.
Too many are the bold claims that fail when the winds of opposition blow. Not only so, but a lack
of this revelation knowledge about who Christ is in us and who we are causes us to be far more
critical of ourselves than we ought to be. We become far too vulnerable to ourselves and then to
others. It becomes a miserable existence of trying to smooth everything out in the name of love and
mercy, when all along we are running from the “old man.”
The second real life lesson that stands out to me is the truth of I Peter 2 that I have shared
many times. It’s about finding God’s purpose in the things that don’t seem right.
1 Peter 2:19-24
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when
ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable (grace) with God.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that
ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed
himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should
live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
Whatever happens in ministry to you happens by the permission of God. Many of those
things are unpleasant at first, but can yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness if we are properly
exercised by them. Hard times do not necessarily or automatically produce the intended effect. It’s
our response that God is concerned about.
Can you describe a difficult time in your ministry, and more importantly what God showed
you about coming through it in His purpose?
Learning the lessons of the hard times produces a faithfulness in us. Being genuine is what
God is after. What He is making of us is more important than anything we can recite and is more
than any head knowledge or experience alone. If we will learn who we are by finding Christ’s
identify in us, and if we will stay strong through His Word we’ll be on the right road to finishing the
race well. Though we have not used all of the words we could about being qualified for ministry,
the skills of commitment, prayer, and relationship have all been discussed. One thing more that we
will leave you with here. No one person can accomplish the call of the Great Commission. It is the
work of the entire body of Christ, the Church working together. Perhaps we should be saying, “We
(not I) can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”
Knowing Your Goal
What is the goal of ministry?
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things
which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
To make disciples
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations,
beginning at Jerusalem.
1 Tim 1:3-5
3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge
some that they teach no other doctrine,
4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly
edifying which is in faith: so do.
5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of
1 Tim 2:1
2 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be
made for all men;
1 Tim 4:16
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both
save thyself, and them that hear thee.
2 Tim 2:1-2
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful
men, who shall be able to teach others also.
10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
(A heretic is one defined as having a factious spirit because of false doctrine.)
To be conformed to Christ’s image
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that
he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
To do good works
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before
ordained that we should walk in them.
To be His witnesses
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses
unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the
15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever
doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
The Sabbath rest was given as a principle of the people of God. It worked by faith that on
the sixth day of gathering double, it would not spoil. It also worked by faith in that on the first five
days they should not gather more than a day’s worth as it would bring judgement. They must believe
that God would supply for the next day on the next day.
Principally we see here that we are never more than a day away from being spiritually hungry
and in need. We can’t gather up enough for a week in one day. We further see that God developed
early on the seeking daily of His Kingdom in the faith that He would be the Master that was always
in the care of our welfare. Any running on in the power of human potential would indicate that we
had violated the plan of rest in our souls, and we would eventually pay the consequence of deep
emotional and spiritual distress, and ultimately even our bodies would wear down.
13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may
know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people.
14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
15 And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.
16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not
in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are
upon the face of the earth.
In the face of sin Moses asked for the rest of God through the granting of His ongoing
presence with them. By the presence of God granted there was the full assurance to quiet the soul
in rest that their sin had been covered and their full standing in the complete covenant of God was
assured. Without such divine assurances through His presence we still can not attain to the degree
of rest that our lives require.
2 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath
of rest to the Lord: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.
When we are in a place of unrest in our own souls through unbelief it can work death in us.
In fact it will also tend to minister death instead of life to those all about us.
32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks
upon the sabbath day.
33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the
34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
35 And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall
stone him with stones without the camp.
36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died;
as the Lord commanded Moses.
9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.
10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their
heart, and they have not known my ways:
11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they
have not known my ways.
11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
The principle of rest under the new covenant is not observed in a day, nor is it observed in
a geographic region such as Canaan. It is fulfilled in Jesus giving us the rest of faith in obedience.
Whenever we begin striving, moving in fleshly motives, ministering to attain some sense of personal
identity or satisfaction, we begin running on a pathway of unrest. Attempting to do more for God
than He is asking of us also accomplishes this. Moving out without resting our souls and our bodies
further causes a condition of unrest to settle in.
When we are not moving in faith and from regular rest we become like the old oil lamps that
would burn their wicks when the oil ran low. It’s light was dim, smelly, and it’s wick became burnt
out. That is what happens to our souls without the principles of rest. As a result, our ministries dry
up. We get out of joint, upset, impatient, and all of the works of the flesh begin to show up. We
start losing effectiveness, building up our stress levels, and nothing we learn can continue to fuel our
lamps. There is no revelation, no change of direction, and no counseling that will stop the stress.
What we simply need is to rest, and then we need to develop a pattern of rest.
Besides the regular Sabbath days that Jesus took off with His disciples, He led them in ten
extended periods of rest over the three years He ministered. We also need to realize from the
teaching of the Old testament patterns for the people and the land that resting by faith is vital. It may
not be so much a physical rest, but a change from our regular ministry and life situations.