A sweet lady handed me a little slip of paper after church one Sunday to encourage me. I unfolded it and it read: “God doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies the called.” At first, I wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or a criticism.

While it is uncertain who originally said it, this quote is widely used by Bible teachers, writers and speakers, primarily as an exhortation from characters in scripture like Moses, Gideon, and others who told God they made a mistake in asking them to do something extraordinary for Him.

I am often drawn to a book we read in the Timothy Institute for encouragement when I don’t feel up to the tasks of vision and leadership by J. Oswald Sanders: Spiritual Leadership. This quote encouraged me this week: “Often truly authoritative leadership falls on someone who years earlier dedicated themselves to practice the discipline of seeking first the kingdom of God. Then, as that person matures, God confers a leadership role, and the Spirit of God goes to work through him. When God’s searching eye finds a person qualified to lead, God anoints that person with the Holy Spirit and calls him or her to a special ministry.”

“I think the distinction we sometimes miss is that God welcomes everyone into his family, entirely by grace and on the basis of the blood of his Son, Jesus, without respect to any qualification in us. We’re all welcome – every last broken one of us. But when it comes to leadership, God bestows influence and authority on those who have proven to be faithful stewards of smaller responsibilities.”

In other words, leaders must be prepared. But what does that mean? What kind of preparation is pre-requisite to being used mightily by God?

• It’s not simply a matter of education – plenty of men and women with no formal education have changed the world.

• It’s not simply a matter of time – the Apostle Paul preached days after his conversion (though he did then go to Arabia for 3 years).

• It’s not simply a matter of position – leadership is influence, with or without a title.

So, what’s the bottom line? It’s a matter of having a heart fully surrendered to God. What does Sanders point to as the sign of a person ready for God’s full leadership anointing– “someone who years earlier dedicated themselves to practice the discipline of seeking first the kingdom of God.” God raises up and blesses those for great impact on the world who have sought the Kingdom of God first and foremost in their lives.

I’ve been guilty, at times, of building my own little kingdom. Without realizing it, a few steps in the wrong direction spiritually places us at the center of our own universe. There, our objective becomes building a life all about our comfort and accomplishments.

When we realize and acknowledge that King Jesus alone belongs on the throne, our prime objective must be to seek more of Jesus. And seek more for Jesus – more people in need of him and more glory for him.