By Katie Pearson
“And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.” 1 Timothy 3:10
Life tests servant leaders perhaps more than anyone else, both in our personal lives and ministry roles. These trials can come in the form of temptations, illness, fear, loneliness, or criticism, to name a few. It’s safe to say that ministry guarantees exposure to any number of threats that challenge our faith and cut down our confidence. Many leaders eventually quit because they feel abandoned by God, or they try to fight back with their own ideas and strength. This only leads to further defeat and even shame. Satan loves shame because it strikes a powerful blow to a leader's identity in Christ.
Paul, of all people, demonstrates the vulnerability associated with a higher calling, although most of us will never experience anything like the dangers he faced to body and soul. He had the wisdom to understand that long seasons of testing can refine a leader to become spiritually fit to oversee a church. He is kind to prepare Timothy to face trials by telling his own stories of defeat and victory. A good mentor never leaves out sharing the rewards for persevering—for God is always on our side, even when we can’t see or feel him in the moment.
Tests press us to choose either ourselves or God. Over time, with practice, consistent obedience results in responding in faith versus fear or self-protection (which often go hand-in-hand). Courage becomes part of our character because we have trained ourselves to draw from supernatural faith. At this point, we can “count it all joy” when we are tested, because God uses our trials to make us steadfast in our faith (James 1:2).
So, don’t give up when you are under fire. Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first. Take every thought captive to maintain the mind of Christ. Recall how Jesus faced every trial, temptation, and test with his heavenly Father. You can too. Trust that trials will accompany your calling to lead and forge ahead. He is refining you for a higher purpose and will never, ever forsake you.
Reflection: When do you find it most challenging to put on the character of Christ? How do you compromise? Whatever role you are assigned in any given season of life or leadership, you are called to fulfill with excellence to the glory of God. Whether you are eventually called to become an “overseer” in the church or not, putting on the character of Christ should be your highest priority in season and out. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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