The Journey of Everyday Leadership


October 2016

Called vs. Qualified

Are leaders born or made?

People have debated the question for centuries. The “Great Man” theory of leadership supported the “born” argument. The “Skills Theory” later suggested that leadership principles can be learned.

Are the most effective leaders naturally outgoing, decisive or visionary? Provocative research both supports and disputes these claims. Regardless of one’s bias, many will agree that human nature still tends to emulate the cry of the Jews in Old Testament times: Give us a King!

Yet, instead of appointing candidates matching Israel’s job description, it seems God was always trying to convince people of one key truth:

“God doesn’t call the QUALIFIED, He qualifies the CALLED.”

I first heard these words in a Master’s class on Leadership as Mentoring. As I pondered this principle, I couldn’t deny that it represented the nature of God.

God called Moses, a stutterer, to go before the most powerful political leader of his day. He chose David, the runt of Jesse’s litter, to anoint as king. He chose Esther, a woman without a voice, to save His chosen people. Most of Jesus’ disciples were blue-collar, ragamuffin commoners! Why did God choose these types—those who misrepresented Him, denied Him, and even betrayed Him to death?

And why does God choose you and me?

If the purpose of humankind is to worship and glorify God, as author John Piper suggests, then herein lies a key clue. God chooses the “weak things of this world to shame the strong.” He chooses the “foolish things of the world to shame the wise” (1 Cor. 1:27). He gets more GLORY when unsuspected leaders influence using His authority!

So, what might this mean for everyday leadership?  I suggest a few key things. First, our identity should be defined by our calling, not our credentials. Second, we should seek to call out divine potential in other less obvious leaders. And third, we should regularly deflect any glory and power back to the One who called us.

Take a moment and consider how you might practice this today.

Daniel Gluck

Lead Faculty, B.A. in Christian Leadership

Leadership Development

“Leadership doesn’t have a systematic theology, but if it did, one article of faith would be: It’s a sin to put changed people back into an unchanged organization.” (Bennis & Thomas, Leading for a Lifetime: p.175)

If we are serious about leadership development, are we positioning our organizations (churches, NPOs, or marketplace) for change or positioning ourselves to lose a developing leader?


“In the crucible, to paraphrase former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, iron enters the soul and turns to steel.” (Bennis & Thomas, Leading for a Lifetime: 108)

crucibleCrucibles are those events in our lives that stretch our capacity, our confidence, our character, and perhaps even our faith. A job loss, a divorce, a death, a serious failure, a chronic illness, persistent conflict….

It looks different for each of us, but one thing remains constant: We all face such times. We all face tests that make or break us. At some point we all feel “iron entering the soul.”

The issue is not whether we can survive such moments. We usually do. But how do such experiences (or seasons) shape us as leaders?

The crucible may take the form of a new baby arriving in the family, or unexpected job responsibilities, or an epiphany about social justice. Whatever it looks like, how do we navigate such seasons?

Growing leaders don’t merely survive the crucibles, they frequently emerge from them with courage and clarity. Crucibles don’t destroy us; they transform us. The iron becomes steel. We discover that, by God’s grace, hardship becomes opportunity.

Twenty centuries ago, the Apostle Paul put it this way: “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen….” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Affliction (the crucible) becomes our uninvited and unexpected friend. It exposes our weaknesses and burns off the cliches and simplisms.

We all encounter trials. While some people buckle beneath them, leaders gently and intentionally transform such trials into opportunities.

Maggie Thatcher got it right. Iron becomes steel, but not without great heat. Let’s not flee from the challenge, but experience in it the transforming grace of God.

David Timms
Dean, William Jessup University

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