Testing leaders mirrors God’s strategy for advancing leaders. God tests leaders. Leaders test leaders the leaders they father. Discipling tests measure progress in ways appearances cannot. Paul certainly engaged in this practice with his emerging leaders, learning from Jesus the practice of testing disciples on their leadership maturity.
First, set a baseline of behavior and production. At what level does the leader produce kingdom fruit and harvest? Kingdom fruit and harvest flow along together but they are not the same thing. Beware the confusing concept that fruit can be measured in numbers or that fruit represents ministry success statistics. Such measurements have little to do with discipling leaders.
Fruit is behavior, including ministry behavior and anointing behavior. Harvest certainly includes souls being saved but harvest is much more. The shallow and limited definition of church as “the accumulation of believers” asked you to measure leaders by what they can do to accumulate instead of who they are as inheritors of kingdom purposes. Discipling leaders mature enough to inherit kingdom purpose must be measured differently from other limited “success” measurements.
With leaders, you will hear what they have to share about their ideas, dreams, and experience but you won’t know the baselines without testing them with real-time behavior. It is what they can sustain that measures their maturity, not performance. Any leadership process that measures only highlights of people on their best days probably considers potential more telling than purpose.
Second, gain God’s strategy for their destiny. This strategy will be a mixture of the framework of their created disposition, calling, charismata, and character blended with God’s revelation for their assigned leaders.
For example, Proverbs says, “Train up a child in his way he should go.” The principle is that parents should train children to fulfill the blueprint of God who created them, not empower children to do whatever they think in their immature state, or exhaust children with vain attempts to shape them into a mold of human design. God creates, and what He creates rightfully belongs to Him. Parents and all leaders God designed to produce purpose function in a relationship of stewardship, representing God so their leadership can prepare leaders to produce purpose.
If a believer resists strategic leadership, they will flounder in futile pursuit of some aspect of potential, a vast ocean of “could be” that separates them from “should be.”
Interestingly Paul tells Timothy to focus on what he received through revelation and authority as a basis for reaching greater fulfillment of personal purpose. Paul says, “I am what I am by God’s grace.” Jesus ignores potential as He obeys and submits to purpose. The lesson is that tests measure the fulfillment of purpose, never the exploration of potential.
I am certainly contrasting kingdom discipling principles with humanistic potential fulfillment dynamics. A flood of these “success” concepts have poured into kingdom leadership protocols. Humanism cannot produce a renewed mind; therefore, it cannot reveal the good, acceptable, and complete what-God-wants. [See Romans 12:2.]
Avoid the more obvious missteps that come from frivolous assumptions. Avoid giving leadership responsibility merely because they are called. Everyone is called. The point of the calling is to identify them with a purpose. The wood is full of called people, but the kingdom advances when fathering leaders prepare and position those who are called. Avoid the conclusion that ekklesia, based upon the word kaleo that means “called” somehow teaches us that a collection of called people defines “church.”
The term “called” does mean “invited” in some instances, but the majority of the time, the word “kaleo” means chosen, ordained, and positioned.” The ekklesia isn’t called out of the world but called together from the kingdom. The ekklesia properly functions only when the called are prepared and positioned to produce a purpose, not merely because a bunch of invited people accumulate in a group.
The test of leadership is the production of purpose. Can you give a leader responsibility without that leader turning it into something else? You aren’t perpetuating yourself. They are perpetuating themselves. You are both inheriting a purpose for which you are prepared and position, so you can fulfill the purpose. You have an assignment, so the favor isn’t on you as much as it is given to fulfill the assignment. You can’t appropriate God’s grace to do what you dream or you operate in witchcraft.
Read this in Jesus’ words: “Many shall say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not…but I shall say, ‘Who are you? How’d you get in here?’ Deep darkness is your home. I am interested in the ones who have fulfilled Father’s will.'”