God’s test for any leader is obedience to authority within the three institutions God established on earth. To discover whether a person is qualified or not to lead in godly authority is determined by how this person follows God’s institutional authority. First, did this prospective leader display respect and obedience toward parental authority, and does this candidate show esteem and respect for their parents today (Exodus 20:12)?
Second, was this prospective leader ever rebellious against civil authority? Is there a history of breaking the law with this individual? Does this person show humility and respect toward civil authorities, or are they defiant trouble-makers?
Finally, what is the attitude of the prospective leader toward church authority? Do they bristle when being asked to display certain decorum of unity in their relationship to the leaders of the church? Do they constantly resist or go against what the lead shepherd and church leaders desire to do as a unified church body? Is there evidence of “heart” submission (internal) or merely outward submission (external) with a passive-rebellious heart? Is there an attitude of arrogance and pride in the candidate that comes out in their activity or behavior towards the lead shepherd of the church? Do they undermine church authority through public or secret opinions and disagreements with the church leaders? Are they peacemakers or dissenters (see Psalm 140:1-3; Proverbs 3:29; 6:12-14, 16, 18-19; Romans 16:17-18; Titus 3:9-11 and James 3:13-18).
These types of behaviors and attitudes towards authority in the church is the sign of a rebellious spirit and, therefore, cannot be sanctioned as a person to carry any role of leadership in the church. Why? Because they march to the beat of their own drum and are not team players. Instead, they become dissenters, gossipers and slanderers, creating disunity rather than promoting unity in the church. They remain unteachable and, therefore, are disqualified to teach others.
All good leaders—successful leaders—were first and foremost, teachable. They were good followers, demonstrating attitudes of respect and reverence toward God’s ordained authority. Rebellion is pride and arrogance in action. It’s the opposite of humility and in league with Satan’s nature, who, himself, rebelled against the Most High God. His rebellion against God led others astray, too. This is why God hates the sin of rebellion. It begins in a person’s heart and manifests itself in an attitude of disrespect and arrogance toward all authority. It is unteachable, and a leader must be and always remain to be—teachable.
Understanding authority, having a submissive spirit, and remaining teachable under authority are the only three ways a potential leader can be promoted by God to be in authority. God always opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 5:5-6). He has not delegated authority as a “right;” it can only be received as a privilege. It is earned by humility, through a teachable spirit, and a willingness to be yoked to spiritual leaders who have been sanctioned and ordained by God. God has called all church leaders to groom discipleship candidates into leadership as a calling and destiny. The only thing that can stand in the way of that is an unteachable, rebellious spirit toward the authority God has placed in your life who, by the way, should desire nothing more from you than to assist you in your journey towards the role of a godly leader.