Why Do Some Qualified People Not Want to Serve?

It’s time to select more elders or deacons. We need more teachers. I see people who have all the qualities to serve well. When I approach some of them, they reply, “I don’t want to,” or to make it sound more scriptural they say, “I don’t have the desire.”

Why do people I think need to be serving not want to serve — not “have the desire”?

  1. They may not be qualified. A person may know themselves better than others know them. There may be something in their lives that would prevent them from serving well.
  2. It could be misplaced priorities. They may not have applied what Jesus said about seeking first the kingdom of God. Matthew 6:33
  3. Some people think everything should be fun and comfortable. Jesus said following Him demanded denial of self and taking up my cross daily. Cross-carrying isn’t for recreation. Luke 9:23
  4. It could be a misunderstanding of the work being considered. Many may think all elders have to have hours of free time and be retired. How many elders in the first century retired at fifty or sixty-five to have time for shepherding? My guess is the working men and slaves didn’t have two days off each week, national holidays off, and a two-week vacation each year. Yet they had elders and deacons. Some may hesitate to preach because they think they don’t know everything about the Bible, failing to realize, “I don’t know. Let’s study together and see what we can learn” is an excellent answer to some questions. Prospective teachers may think they have to get over stage fright before they can teach.
  5. Inadequate role models may have discouraged some. They may have grown up in a church where they never knew excellent elders, dedicated deacons, powerful preachers, or top-notch teachers. They may not want to be like the examples they’ve seen.
  6. Painful experiences with church dynamics have affected others in a negative way. I’ve heard both children of preachers and children of elders who had a negative view of both because of the way their fathers have been treated.

Solutions to lack of desire to lead by qualified people

  1. Explore, be open to how God has gifted you and is preparing you for what He wants you to be and do. Travis Irwin’s new book, We Are God’s Masterpiece, is a good source for this process: #ad We Are God’s Masterpiece
  2. We need recruiters — mothers, fathers, friends, teachers, elders, deacons, preachers — who see in others what they don’t see in themselves. They can be models, cast a vision, and relate the joys and pains of faithful service.
  3. I think the desire of 1 Timothy 3:1 is an observation — not a qualification. If a man desires the function of an overseer, he wants something that is good and it is work — not a reward for good attendance. The next verse begins the list of qualities for the person: “A bishop then must be blameless…” My thinking: many people can serve well and grow in their leadership who haven’t recognized those qualities in themselves. Thoughts related to this in a previous blog post: Ask Permission Before You Nominate…an effective rule to eliminate some of the best potential leaders

What have you observed about qualified people who resist serving?

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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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