The call is not the qualifying. What does that mean? At times you may hear someone say, “I’ve been called by God to …” or “God told me to …” Then the outcome of what they told you God “called” them to do ends up being a complete and total mess, a very wrong and bad outcome.
It is situations like that where you might think that the person is a kook or a charlatan, that they mistook God’s call, or maybe that God doesn’t speak or “call” at all.
Sometimes a person actually is a charlatan. Sometimes a person mistakes their own desires for God’s voice. But I think sometimes the person heard correctly and they were actually called, but they weren’t qualified.
“Are you saying God made a mistake?” You may ask.
No, I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying is that I think that too often we mistake the call for the qualifying. There is another saying, “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” This is absolutely true. This is not only a platitude: it is an encouragement, it is a guide, and it is also a warning.
God must qualify you in order for you to fulfill your call. God is a cultivator, not your fairy godmother. He doesn’t wave a wand and in a snap you’re all decked out and set. He leads you along the way, he prepares you for the “land,” or your call step by step, little by little. He builds you up and strengthens you to hold the weight of his glory that he has allotted to you. Think of Joseph, Daniel, and Job, the greater the glory, the greater blessing, the more intense the preparation. As Job remarked, “once he has tested me, I will be refined as gold.” That refining is the qualifying necessary for the call.
Mistaking the Call for Qualification
But too often, I think we mistake the call for qualification. We may get so wrapped up in hearing that call or being given a promise, that we think we are ready to handle all of what God has for us. If you are in this situation right now, I would be willing to bet that … no, you’re not ready. That you aren’t ready is the point of the way that God works. In a true work of God, he draws us beyond anything we could have dreamed or imagined that we would do so that we know that it is not ourselves that brought us to this place and also so that we know that the only way we can get through is if God brings us through it.
Solomon: the Unqualified
What was Solomon’s request of God when Solomon knew that he was not qualified for the position in which he had been placed? Solomon knew he had to have good judgment and to be able to “discern between good and evil” in order to rule the people well. Think about what Solomon’s life growing up, he had lived within the chaos of the royal family. It was step-family drama on steroids. Siblings raping siblings. Brother murdering brother. Sons trying to overthrow their father, and throughout all of this, different factions were attempting to gain the allegiance of.different tribes and ruling groups.
Solomon needed to judge motivations. He needed to execute justice so that the people wouldn’t jump ship to the next claimant to the throne that showed up. He was the son of a woman who did not have a powerful family behind her. Solomon was in a precarious position
Accepting the Calling But Not the Qualifying
As I said, I think that often a Christian does hear God’s call, but doesn’t realize that they need to be qualified. They think they are good as they are and already equipped. I can think of so many people in leadership positions that I am positive, that if I knew the backstory, that the person received a word about God’s plan for them. They see that plan start to happen, then something seems to go haywire in the way they think that plan should go, and they take matters into their own hands.
If you have a word from God and that plan seems to go off course from the track you think it should take, it doesn’t mean that you misheard or that it wasn’t God’s plan. It just means your plan is not God’s plan, and your ways are not his ways.
The Big Brother motto applies here, “expect the unexpected.”
The Jews didn’t expect a Messiah from Nazareth. Jesus was “unexpected.” That’s just the way God works, get used to it.
Don’t think you need to “fix” things by trying to bring about what God has promised in your own way. We have examples in Scripture of how that turns out. The kingship was taken from Saul. Saul taking things into his own hands to get an answer from God before Samuel arrived (1 Samuel 13) not only resulted in his early death, but the eventual loss of the kingdom and the tribes.
Our example should be Joseph. In each situation where he was mistreated and abused, he had been doing exactly what he was supposed to do. He was doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, for the right reasons, regardless of the actions of others and whether or not they deserved it. He trusted God for the outcome, and it was the very betrayals, the misfortune, that brought him to his high position in Egypt.
Not only were those misfortunes the path to God’s ultimate plan for him, but they were Joseph’s qualifying. We see from the account of Joseph’s life when he was young that he was a little prideful. He learned humility through the long years of imprisonment. When he finally came to the point in his life that he was second only to Pharoah in Egypt, he had a connection and compassion for the poor, the needy, the desperate, and the oppressed … because he had been there himself.
Because Joseph submitted to the qualifying, he was able to fulfill the call God had given him.
We always have a choice. Personally, I think it is better to refuse the call entirely than to accept the call and refuse the qualifying. The consequences will be greater and you will be held to account.
Walking in the Qualifying
Solomon knew he needed that judgment and discernment, but what was it that he asked for? Did he ask for those things? He needed those things, but he actually asked for something else. He asked for an “understanding heart.” That is how most English versions translate the verse. However, as the late Bible teacher Derek Prince has pointed out, the word there is “shama” which means “to hear.” The definition in Strongs is (H8085) “to hear, listen to, obey.”
Solomon asked for a “hearing heart,” a heart that could hear God’s voice. He knew that true discernment and sound judgment came from hearing God’s voice and following God’s instructions. Solomon knew that he wasn’t qualified, and so he asked for the capacity to hear God and his directions so he could walk in that guidance … the qualifying.
We know from Solomon’s story that he did not always walk in the qualifying. He allowed himself to be misdirected and that wrong focus had serious consequences not only for himself and his family, but for the entire nation.
Learn from the example of Solomon. Recognize that whatever it is that God has called you to, to fulfill that plan, you need to have a hearing heart. If you begin to think that you can do well enough on your own without that divine guidance, you will fare no better than Solomon.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by what is in front of you, thank God for placing you in a position where you have to rely on him and where he can show his power. Ask him to give you a hearing heart, one that allows you to see and discern clearly and make good judgments. And ask God to make you “willing to obey him.”
Listen. Hear. Do.