What Does it Mean to be Qualified?

What Does it Mean to be Qualified?
Tony Cooke

Qualified Tony CookeThe following article is excerpted from the upcoming book, “Qualified: Serving God with Integrity and Finishing Your Course with Honor.” It will be released no later than July, but you can order your copy today!

It has been said that “God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called.” God calls us and desires to work in our lives to qualify us for godly service, but we need to participate in an on-going process of growth, obedience, and development. I’ve often pondered the words of the Lord Jesus when He said (Matthew 22:14, NKJV), “For many are called, but few are chosen.” What is the difference between those who are called and those who go on to be chosen? Is it possible that those who are chosen are those who have cooperated more fully with their Caller and their calling?

We can respond or not respond.
We can obey or not obey.
We can cooperate or not cooperate.
We can follow completely, partially, or not at all.

Oswald Sanders said, “Our Lord made clear to James and John that high position in the Kingdom of God is reserved for those whose hearts – even the secret places where no one else probes – are qualified.

Those that were selected to help Moses (Exodus 18:21) were to meet certain qualifications:

• They were to be capable and competent
• They were to be God-fearing
• They were to be people of honesty and integrity
• They were to be incorruptible, hating covetousness and immune to bribery

Those selected to serve in the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:3) also had to exhibit certain characteristics:

• They were to be well respected, trusted, and have a good reputation
• They were to full of the Holy Spirit
• They were to be full of wisdom

The Apostle Paul recognized that the journey of spiritual leadership is challenging and that great diligence is required to finish well. Likening the Christian journey to a track race, he said:

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT)
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Notice that Paul wasn’t just concerned about “preaching to others.” He was diligent to discipline his own body and, as the NKJV says, “bring it into subjection.Paul realized before he could lead others, he first had to lead himself. Before he could effectively influence others, he first had to influence himself to stay on-course. It is terribly unfortunate when ministers seek to excel in their “public performance” but deteriorate in their character and integrity. Patsy Cameneti once remarked, “In the process of becoming great preachers, some become lousy Christians.

Diego Mesa is a friend who pastors in southern California. He used to run marathons and participate in triathlons. In the early ’80’s he felt great as he finished third in a very competitive event. He had done well in the swimming, cycling, and running, and he went happily to collect his prize of $250 (that was a lot of money to him back then). Instead, he received a check for $175 and was informed that he had neglected to wear his helmet during the cycling portion of the event. As a result, $75 had been deducted from his award. I wonder how many believers, including preachers, will stand before the Lord, thinking they’d done wonderful things for him, only to find out their reward has been affected by wrong motives, attitudes, or methods.

Paul advised Timothy, a young pastor, “…athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5, NLT). In trying to avoid legalism, many have downplayed the idea of “rules,” but there are definite guidelines involved in carrying out fruitful and effective ministerial service, and likewise, ignoring or violating such precepts can greatly diminish one’s productivity and effectiveness, and ultimately affect their reward.

In speaking to one group of believers, Paul said, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6).

In order to become disqualified, it seems that a person would have to become qualified in the first place. Speaking of his own ministry, Paul said, “God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message” (1 Thessalonians 2:3 MSG).

Our task is to pursue whole-heartedly those characteristics that qualify us for effective service, and eradicate those traits from our lives that would disqualify us. Paul’s analogy and admonition in 2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NLT) supports this entirely.

In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.

Men and women don’t become great by accident. They are carried into greatness by great values, great decisions, great convictions, great principles, and great actions. One person said, “Make your decisions, and your decisions will make you.

• Make it your determined effort not to grow lax or sloppy in your morals, values, and convictions, even if others around you seem to be.
• Don’t let yourself simply “go with the crowd” when their values or morals are lacking.
• Embrace the highest and the best that God has for you.
• Don’t let His Word be a book of ideals to you from which you can selectively and occasionally live, but let them be your commandments—orders given by one in authority about which there is no choice and from which there is no retreat!

Daniel didn’t stumble into integrity; the excellency of his character was deliberate and intentional. Daniel 1:8 (NKJV) says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…

Paul advised the believers to “…take thought for what is honest and proper and noble [aiming to be above reproach] in the sight of everyone” (Romans 12:17, AMP).

In November of 1948, shortly before his ministry was launched into major national prominence, Billy Graham met with three of his top associates (Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea, and Grady Wilson) to discuss ways to lead their ministry with integrity and avoid scandalous, shameful practices which had brought reproach on many in evangelistic-type ministries. In what became known as the “Modesto Manifesto,” Graham and his team identified four areas of concern and resolved to conduct themselves with the upmost integrity in these matters.

The four areas that were identified included:

• The shady handling of money
• Sexual immorality
• Badmouthing others doing similar work
• Exaggerated accomplishments

Billy spoke of these guidelines, saying, “In reality, it did not mark a radical departure for us; we had always held these principles. It did, however, settle in our hearts and minds once and for all, the determination that integrity would be the hallmark of both our lives and our ministry.”

Here are some of decisions principled leaders have already made.

• To be 100% honest in all of one’s dealings.
• To stay completely submitted to the principles of honor and integrity in God’s Word.
• To be a good steward of one’s body, mind, finances, and gifts.
• If wrong is done, to make it right.
• To be completely faithful to one’s spouse and to maintain moral purity in every way.
• To take the “high road” in all dealings in life.
• To treat all people with dignity and respect.
• To never try to get ahead or make oneself look good by tearing down others.
• To be the best possible example of Christlikeness.
• To never exploit or take advantage of anyone, especially the weak and vulnerable.
• To be an authentic person, not living behind a front or facade.
• To do what is in the best interests of others; seeking their edification and avoiding what will bring harm to others.

It’s important to keep in mind that if God had to wait until we were flawlessly perfect to use us, no one would ever be used by God. All of us are a work in progress. It’s not where we’ve been that matters; it’s where we’re headed now that counts. Your past is no excuse to keep you from the future that God has for you. God has a work for you to do, and He wants you to fulfill it with integrity and honor. God help us all to become and remain qualified!

Order your copy of “Qualified: Serving God with Integrity and Finishing Your Course with Honor” today!