Theresa Harvard Johnson

childbeforeasunsetCopyright 2017 Theresa Harvard Johnson

“I do not ordain potential!”

This phrase rocked me as it roared from the mouth of Dr. Kluane Spake on the night of my apostolic commissioning service just over a month ago as she shared with the crowd concerning the call of an apostle. You could have heard a pin drop in the ballroom as everyone seemed to enter slow motion mode – at least for a few seconds – as they bit down on that one, profound statement and the explanation that would follow.

I believe some of us considered this truth: “Ministry callings are about the existing, mature operation of a calling – not simply the signs.” It is important to note, however, that the term ordain does not necessarily mean “ordination” as in a formal ceremony in which someone is bestowed the title of minister that is common among Christ-centered organizations. It is also the act of proclaiming, decreeing and affirming that something fully exists with surety. From this perspective, we can better understand what that aha moment may have been about.

Whether leaders who read this will admit it or not, many have placed people in positions or granted them licenses in ministry with the best intentions – only to discover weeks or months down the line that those people may not have been ready. In the worst-case scenario, they discover that they lack the qualifications, character and emotional stability to uphold that seat of authority. I was ordained into ministry as a prophet back in 2003. Knowing what I know now about myself, I was clearly not ready.

I am bold enough to say today that “my potential” was ordained. About all I had going for me was a seemingly strong gift of prophecy (word of knowledge/wisdom) and a whole bunch of boldness (probably arrogance upon closer inspection). While God was truly present in my life, at work in my heart and doing a super-quick work… I needed humility, compassion, ministry experience, growth and wisdom at a much greater level.

Listen, I have no doubt that the minister’s intentions were good in the midst of this. But I can’t help but think about how many people – just like I was – are walking around unprepared for the proclamations made over their lives. Now, I can see quite a few mistakes and missteps along my journey that could have been avoided had I had more time to grow, mature.

The Oxford Living Dictionaries online state that potential is defined as “having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future.”[1] In an additional entry, it reads: “Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.”[2] People of God! That is some very serious wording! It literally means that you might have the ability to develop a certain gifting or calling but we have to wait and see what develops and matures.

Potential is like HOPING OR GUESSING that something is there or might be in development. But it IS NOT evidence or proof of what is NOW!

In the New Covenant, potential was never released into ministry – only maturity was released! God changed his leadership development patterns from the Old Covenant in light of the New. Up until that moment, I have never really paid much attention to this truth. Nevertheless, just as I am writing this article right now, it is the truth.

Paul demonstrated this with the qualifications of deacons and elders that are outlined 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 . Hebrews 5:12 CJB says, “For although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the very first principles of God’s Word all over again! You need milk, not solid food!”

Although potential is critical to our hope for development, it will never qualify us for anything other than learning, being encouraged in our process and equipping. That potential puts us in a position to pursue being the ideal STUDENT. In other words, even if we desire to lead – we must remain in the posture of a learner, a disciple…. someone who never, ever stops growing no matter where you might perceive yourself be in your spiritual maturation process.

Potential gives us the assurance of Hebrews 20:21-23 which says: “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ…”

People of God, it is time to distinguish between potential and maturity. In that moment when Dr. Spake spoke, I think I realized for the first time that she was saying: “When I commission Theresa, I’m not commissioning potential. The apostolic gift is present.” This wrecked me! I’m just going to tell you the truth. But I also believe it was the first time that I really and truly felt spiritually settled in the calling to apostolic ministry. In that moment, my identity was sealed. I mean FOR REAL!

MY POINT: It should be that way for all of us when the time comes to be pushed into the deeper things of God. We shouldn't have any doubts or questions, and neither should those people in our circle of close accountability. We can’t enter a high place IN TRAINING. We must be TRAINED for the high place before entering. What hospital do you know of that would place a student with the potential to be a surgeon in the operating room with a patient’s life in the balance? Shouldn’t that surgeon be qualified and trained first?

If this is true in the natural then how much more valuable is it in the Spirit… standing in the presence of the God of the Universe?

Listen, I understand now that we were being admonished to understand that: “GOD DOES NOT ORDAIN POTENTIAL IN LEADERSHIP OR AUTHORITY.” He places potential inside us... but training and development is REQUIRED. In other words, GOD sets those equipped to lead and who have established authority in place in His Kingdom. Our role in the Father’s process is to remain a student until the time comes for Him to properly align and position us.

Let's not move too fast or be in such a hurry to grow up! The road is much harder when you are SENT TOO SOON.  Let the evidence of maturation be witnessed in your life! Allow God to present your authority to others. Don't self appoint -- this is arrogance. It is okay -- Father HAS NOT forgotten you. He will come for you just as He came for me... and all those who have gone before us.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 a
(NIV) says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”


[1] “Potential,” Oxford Living Dictionaries, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/potential

[2] Ibid.

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