Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.
— 1 Timothy 5:22
No car manufacturer would release a new model car to the public without first testing the weaknesses and strengths of that automobile. To test the new model, the manufacturer will order it to be driven as fast as it can be driven. It will be crashed into a wall. It will be driven on nails to test the strength of the tires. It will be driven over every conceivable kind of pavement and in all kinds of temperatures. Only after the car passes the final inspection will it be deemed “fit” for public usage.
To release a car without these kinds of tests would be considered irresponsible. If the manufacturer doesn’t test a new model, how can he know whether or not it will perform well? How can he know whether or not it has fatal mistakes in its structure? How can he know for sure that it won’t kill someone? The manufacturer is well aware that if he releases the car to the public and it falls apart or kills someone, he is the one who will be held responsible for that failure.
New automobiles are tested to protect people from being physically hurt in automobile accidents. But what about testing potential leaders before giving them highly visible places of power and authority in a church, business, or organization?
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People are precious to God, and they should be precious to us as well. But before we give people great power and authority in a church or an organization, they first need to be tested and proven. It is essential that those of us who are in leadership positions know who these individuals really are and how they will perform in various situations.
The apostle Paul referred to this testing process when he wrote, “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). The word “suddenly” is the Greek word tachus, and in this verse it carries the idea of doing something quickly or hastily. The words “lay hands” are from the Greek word epitithimi, which means to place hands upon. In both Old Testament and New Testament times, a “laying on of hands” ceremony was the equivalent of stamping that individual with one’s personal seal of approval. When those in leadership positions laid hands on a person, they were signifying that they believed in him, supported him, and desired to empower him to perform some task or duty. Hence, the laying on of hands was an act that was carried out very cautiously, since it gave the recipient such a high status in the eyes of the beholders.
Paul tells us, “Lay hands suddenly on no man….” A better translation would be, “Don’t give your seal of approval to people too hastily….” You see, it’s very possible to lay hands on people too quickly — to give them the seal of our approval before we really know them and to impart authority to them before they are ready. This is a foolish mistake that produces painful consequences.
If you feel God has chosen you, don’t get frustrated if you are held back for a while by those who are in authority over you. It is wise and right for them to know you, to test you, and to be sure you are the right candidate for the job. If God has really chosen you, it won’t hurt you or the call He has placed on your life to wait just a little longer. If anything, your divine call will be confirmed and reconfirmed again and again as you patiently wait for God’s timing to be manifested.
When I was a young man, I had desire; I had ambition; and I had the necessary “get up and go” to do what God had placed in my heart. But there were characteristics in me that needed to be corrected before God could use me. If I’d gotten started before God uprooted those undesirable traits, they would have later overgrown my ministry and destroyed any fruitfulness God wanted to produce through me. This is why it is an aspect of immaturity to want to do everything right now.
If you are the one who chooses the leadership for your church, ministry, or organization, don’t move hastily! Nothing is more important in your organization than the people you choose for its leadership. If you choose people who share your heart and are submitted to you and your vision, they will be a blessing. But if you choose people who have a different vision and are not in agreement with what God has put in your heart, you have invited a spiritual hurricane into your midst that has the power to destroy everything you have built. So take the time to be sure you’re making the right decision!
We all have glitches and flaws in our character. Not one of us is perfect. Fortunately, small flaws are correctable as long we have receptive and teachable hearts. But if a person refuses to see his need for change and is closed-hearted to suggestions made by those who love him, this is evidence of the most serious character flaw. From the outside, this person may look like he’s just what we’re looking for, but we must not forget to consider the deeper issues of the heart.
Pastors and leaders of ministries and organizations can attest to the dreadful mistake of “laying hands on” people before they were ready. Most leaders could tell you about people they promoted into leadership too quickly — before they really knew them. These are the people who often betrayed their leaders, split their churches, divided their organizations, and wounded those leaders’ spirits so deeply that it took a long time for them to recuperate and return to a state of normalcy again in their lives and ministries.
Often the hurt a person causes in such a case is unintentional. He or she was simply not ready for that much power and authority. And to think that the whole mess could have been avoided if more time had been taken before the person was elevated to a leadership position!
Many dreadful mistakes have been made through two thousand years of Church history simply because people were placed into leadership positions too quickly. Had time been taken and had those people really been tested, it would have been clear that they were not spiritually prepared to lead. But as a result of hasty decisions and quick actions, multitudes of people have been mishandled and hurt by immature leadership.
Don’t make that same mistake! Before someone is invited to be a permanent part of any leadership team, it is right to make sure that there is nothing in his character, attitude, or actions that could spiritually hurt others or the organization along the way. Remember, you are putting this potential leader over people, and nothing in the world is more valuable or precious than the people of God. You don’t want to make a hasty decision that reaps terrible consequences for your church, ministry, or organization.
Paul told Timothy that by not laying hands on people too quickly, he could avoid being a “…partaker of other men’s sins….” The word “partaker” is the Greek word koinonia, which conveys the ideas of fellowship, interaction, or mutual participation.
You see, when those in leadership discover that a person has a serious character flaw after they have put that person into a high position too quickly, they are now involved in a mess, whether they like it or not! They have someone on their team who isn’t a right “fit” for them, who has a different standard of excellence, or who has some problem. But because they moved too quickly and publicly promoted that person, they are stuck with having to make a difficult decision. They have become locked in a mess that they could have avoided simply by moving a little slower!
So if you are in a leadership position, take the time to know someone before you give that person new power and authority. And if you are wanting to be chosen for a higher position yourself, be patient with those who are waiting and watching you. They have a God-given responsibility to know you and to feel confident about you before they lay their hands on you!
Finally, pray for your pastor or employer to make right decisions about people they promote into leadership positions in their church, business, or organization. They need your prayer support, so get behind them with your prayers today!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, You know me better than anyone in the world, so I trust You to know exactly when I am ready for the next big promotion that You have designed for my life. Help me to quit being frustrated with my superiors for not promoting me more quickly, and help me instead to take a look at the deeper issues of my life that hold me back from being elevated. Holy Spirit, help me use this time in my life to clean up my act and to get my heart ready for the next upward step that Jesus has waiting for me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that my character, attitude, and actions are being refined by the fire of God in my life. The Holy Spirit is helping me discover any serious character flaws that would negatively affect my future. God is changing me, teaching me, and preparing me for greater responsibility. I am serious about my walk with God and about being greatly used by Him in this life. Therefore, I want Him to identify every part of my life that is out of order or that needs to be fixed. So today I yield to the Holy Spirit so He can delve deep into my soul and extract those traits that would keep me from the blessings and positions God would love to give me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you think of someone who was promoted too hastily into a position of leadership and, as a result, caused damage to a church, business, or organization?
2. Have there been times when your desire to be promoted was delayed? In retrospect, can you now see that you wouldn’t have been ready for the job if you had been promoted at that exact time? Does it make you thankful that you were put “on hold” just a little bit longer?
3. What do you need to be dealing with in your personal character right now to better prepare you for the next promotion that God has designed for your life?