The First Requirement of a Leader
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. — 1 Timothy 3:1
One time many years ago, Denise and I were driving down the street, discussing our concern for certain church members who reflected no desire for excellence in the way they lived. As we discussed our desire to see the people in our church display a greater desire for excellence in their lives, we happened to look out the car window. There we saw one of our church members, an older woman, walking down the sidewalk. This elderly lady was extremely poor and had suffered miserable hardships in her life; yet every time we saw her, she always wore a beautiful smile on her face. My wife and I had commented to each other on many occasions about this woman’s “never-give-up” attitude.
Like millions of other people living in the wreckage of the former Soviet Union, this woman had lost her money, her job, and even her national identity when the Soviet Union collapsed. As a pensioner, she existed on a salary so low that we didn’t know how she even survived from day to day. Her monthly pension was barely enough to buy bread and milk. (This sad situation has happened to many people in the former Soviet Union. It’s heartbreaking to see so many who live in despair, having lost all hope and sense of purpose in life.)
But on this particular day, this elderly lady’s hair was beautifully combed and her face was prepared for the day. She had put on her best dress jacket, and she was holding her head high as she walked down the street. She looked as if she were a queen!
Then we noticed that the woman wobbled as she walked. Looking at her feet, we saw that her shoes were almost completely worn out and were surely causing her great pain as she slowly strolled along. When I saw how this little old woman hobbled along in old, worn-out shoes with her head held so high, it both blessed and saddened me. I felt sorry that her financial situation was so bleak and that she had to walk in such a decrepit pair of shoes. But her spirit and her mental attitude were so strong that she refused to let life get her down — and that blessed me!
I thought of all the people we knew who faced much less challenging situations, yet who sat around griping and complaining about everything. Because they didn’t have the same desire this woman had to keep pressing toward excellence regardless of the obstacles, they were much more prone to give up and quit. But this little woman put on the best she had in an effort to look as excellent as possible in the midst of her very difficult circumstances.
It is sadly true that many believers live low-level lives simply because they have no ambition, passion, or desire to do anything to improve themselves. Their complacent attitude prevents them from ever doing anything better with their lives.
Considering the fact that the Spirit of God lives in believers and wants to take them higher, it is hard to understand any believer who:
- has the ability to improve himself but doesn’t.
- has the money to buy better clothes but doesn’t.
- has an iron to press his clothes but doesn’t use it.
- has a comb to comb his hair but doesn’t care how his hair looks.
- has the opportunity to study and increase his knowledge and skills but never cares enough to do it.
- has been reared in a good home with godly parental examples but allows his living quarters to look like a pigpen.
It is very important for you to understand that God doesn’t choose passionless people to do mighty works. He carefully observes a person’s attitude and desire before He lays His hand upon him and calls him to do something historic and monumental. Attitude and desire are very important to God; in fact, Paul wrote, “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”
As noted earlier (see May 25), the word “desire” is the Greek word orego. This word pictures a person who wants something so badly that he stretches forward to obtain what he wants. It literally means to be outstretched or to stretch forward. The idea is of a fierce, unyielding desire to have or to be something. It refers to a person’s inward attitude and determination to always do the best he can with what he is and to become the best he can be.
You see, when a person has loads of talent and potential but never combs his hair, irons his clothes, makes his bed, washes his car, or cleans his pigpen of a home, it should deeply disturb us. It should especially concern us if that person has money to improve himself but never does it because he doesn’t care.
A person who never attempts to make improvements in his living conditions is not someone I want to serve alongside me in my ministry. I know from the way he lives that he isn’t a person with high standards of excellence. Likewise, an individual who is content to remain at his current level of proficiency at work, never striving for greater results, demonstrates a low level of desire to attain excellence.
This is probably not the kind of person God can trust to do great things for His Kingdom! A person’s “take-it-easy, don’t-rock-the-boat, never-achieve-anything-special” attitude reveals a lack of the passion and desire needed to be a mover and a shaker in life. This person could be developing his mind. He could be striving for excellence in his work. He could be reading books and developing skills of professionalism in his chosen field. Instead, he sits around in a puddle of mediocrity, satisfied with the status quo.
If you know someone who is called of God and loaded with gifts and talents but who is lazy in his approach to life, let me encourage you to speak correction to this person in love. God will never select that person to do anything great until he becomes willing to change. Why would God trust this kind of person with an important task when he can’t even make his bed or comb his hair? Regardless of the talent or gifts this person possesses, he is eliminated by his own lack of desire.
This issue of desire is not a second-rate issue. It is right at the top of the list of requirements for excellence! It’s so critical to advancement in life that when the apostle Paul gave Timothy his list of character requirements for Christian leaders, the first thing he put on the list was desire (1 Timothy 3:1).
When God observes your life, does He see the kind of desire that is essential for leaders? If not, what are you going to do to change this in your life — starting today?
My Prayer for Today
Lord, please help me stir up my desire to make significant changes in my life. I am so sorry for the times I’ve allowed complacency to keep me stuck in the same ol’ place for such a long time. I want to change. I want to grow. I want to be different. I am asking You to supernaturally fill me with so much desire that no power on earth and no force in hell can stop me from becoming everything You want me to be!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am filled with enough desire to make significant leaps forward in my life. I am not going to stay the same as I have been in the past. I am getting up and moving forward. I’m stretched out toward the goal and completely committed to achieving the dream God has for me. I will not stop, nor will I allow anything to distract me from reaching out to become ALL that God has planned for me to be!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. If you were to gauge the level of your desire for excellence, how would you rate yourself (with #1 designating the least desire and #10 the greatest desire)?
2. If you were to ask people who know you well to gauge your level of desire, how do you think they would rate you? Why don’t you go ahead and ask them this question so you can find out what others see in you? You might learn something very valuable by allowing a dear friend to speak so honestly into your life.
3. In your opinion, what is the number-one area of your life that needs to change?