Ask Permission Before You Nominate…an effective rule to eliminate some of the best potential leaders

It’s time to select additional elders. What are our rules?

  • Will leaders select leaders or will the group select leaders
  • Will we encourage legalized gossip during the vetting phase (a later blog post)?
  • Should we ask people before we nominate them?

It’s important to think, discuss, decide, and communicate our rules. Our rules (the way we do things) determine our outcome.

A popular rule in leadership nomination (copied from a church nomination process):

Approach the person(s) you want to nominate. Explain why you want to nominate them and ask permission to do so. If they consent, fill out the form with their name and give it to someone on the search committee.

My observation: this rule may help us overlook some of the best leaders in the church.

How do I know? The Bible tells me so.

Some of the best leaders didn’t have the desire to lead.

  • The Lord told Moses He was sending him to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. Moses replied, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:11, NKJV)? The Lord said, “I will certainly be with you” (Exodus 3:11). Moses didn’t have the desire to be a leader.
  • The Angel of the Lord spoke to Gideon, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:11). Gideon doubted the Lord’s effectiveness and saw himself as the least person in the weakest family in his tribe in Israel (Judges 6:15). And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you” (Judges 6:16). Gideon didn’t have the desire to be a leader.
  • The Lord said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). Jeremiah answered, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth” (Jeremiah 1:6). The Lord assured him, “For I am with you to deliver you” (Jeremiah 1:8). Jeremiah didn’t have the desire to be a prophet.

What if the Lord had approached each of these by saying, “I think you might make a good leader. Is it OK if I nominate you?”

We would have lost Moses, Gideon, and Jeremiah. I wonder how many elders and deacons we’ve lost with the rule you have to ask permission before you nominate.

How about nominating those in whom we see the qualities of Jesus as people who will serve with excellence? Those who decline the first time might reconsider if they’re nominated by several people several times.

Some people are slow learners. After several approaches, it might occur to them: perhaps I should cultivate the desire to serve if many of my brothers and sisters are seeing ability in me.

Here is a process that would permit an approach to men each time there’s a selection because several people see in them the qualities of a servant leader: Elder Selection Procedures

The question is, does this person believe the Lord will be with him in this work? Do I believe the last part of the Great Commission, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)? Can Jesus really help? Do I think I need His help?

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Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

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