So, I’ve taken two leadership class this year, one in the school of ministry and one at UMKC, and there are a lot of things that overlap. But if there’s one takeaway that can change my life (and your life) for years, it’s that who you are right now is often a reflection of who you will be. In other words, the choices you’re making right now are shaping who you’ll be in the future.

The problem isn’t that we’ve never heard that before, but in our everyday lives, we often forget. Eating cheesecake one day probably won’t affect you a year from now, but eating cheesecake everyday for the next year will have a negative impact on your health. The same truth about the physical holds true for the emotional and spiritual: long-term changes happen gradually. Our choices create habits that are either harmful or helpful.

What does this have to do with leadership? Don’t expect to be given the position of a leader if you haven’t created the habits and lifestyle of a leader. I can’t expect people to treat me like a mature adult if I don’t act or make choices like one. Others will take you seriously when you prove that you take yourself seriously.

The truth is, I have a lot of peers who have great potential to be effective leaders, but I wouldn’t follow them right now or anytime soon because I see the way they live their lives. And they’re not doing anything bad; they’re just not living to the standard that their calling requires. If you know you’re called to be a pastor, then start holding yourself to that standard now. Live the way a pastor would live, and people will begin to see you as one. (Yes, appearances actually do matter sometimes.)

God can use anyone and anything He wants, but there’s something about being a living sacrifice that’s set apart and living at a high standard that’s appealing to Him. You can choose right now you’ll be in five years. Choose wisely.