The Editor’s Desk by Shawn McMullen
Joseph didn’t desire to rule over his family, but the dreams God gave him indicated he would. Relating his dreams to his father and brothers only stirred up resentment. As a result, he was sold to slave traders (Genesis 37:28) and later purchased by an Egyptian official (v. 36). Through no fault of his own he was cast into prison (39:1-20) and forgotten—until God raised him up and placed Joseph “in charge of the whole land of Egypt” (41:41).
As the youngest son of his father Jesse, David saw little more than shepherding in his future. Passed over in the first round draft of king candidates (1 Samuel 16:10-13) and derided by his older brother on the battlefront (17:28), David eventually became king of Judah (2 Samuel 2:4) and later “king over all Israel” (5:3).
Daniel was deported to Babylon when King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem (Daniel 1:3-6). Although he belonged to a noble family, Daniel’s pedigree meant little in a strange country. The king and his officials did their best to indoctrinate Daniel and his companions with Babylonian religion and culture, but Daniel stood his ground and remained faithful to God. In most instances Daniel’s behavior would have denied him any future influence in this foreign country. But God blessed Daniel’s obedience and Nebuchadnezzar made Daniel “ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men” (2:48).
None of these men sought fame, influence, or political clout. They didn’t set out to lead. They didn’t plan their ascendency to greatness. But God blessed them with honor and authority and set them up to rule nations. What did they share in common? Qualities like faithfulness, integrity, and devotion to God.
God works that way often, searching out the humble servant in a sea of self-promoters and elevating him to a position of influence.
A.W. Tozer described it like this:
A true and safe leader is likely to be one who has no desire to lead, but is forced into a position by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and the press of [circumstances]. . . . There was hardly a great leader from Paul to the present day but was drafted by the Holy Spirit for the task, and commissioned by the Lord to fill a position he had little heart for. . . . The man who is ambitious to lead is disqualified as a leader. The true leader will have no desire to lord it over God’s heritage, but will be humble, gentle, self-sacrificing and altogether ready to follow when the Spirit chooses another to lead.
God is looking for leaders today—in the home, in the church, and in society. He continues to “test the heart and [is] pleased with integrity” (1 Chronicles 29:17). And when he finds the rare follower who demonstrates leadership potential, a servant’s heart, and a willingness to follow him no matter the cost, he uses him to the fullest.
As the maxim suggests, “If you tend to the depth of your ministry, God will tend the breadth of your ministry.”