This is the big question, isn’t it? Correction involves someone leading and someone following. In our church we try to maintain the mantra: Everyone disciple someone, and everyone needs to be discipled by someone. In this axiom, there is a balance, that sustains and maintains healthy relationships. Even the greatest of leaders still need to be discipled by someone. Even the least in the beloved should disciple someone.
This means that SUBMISSION is a Kingdom absolute for everyone. We must all learn to humble ourselves. Humility should be evident in the greatest of leaders!
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. (1 Pet 5:5-6)
True leaders listen to their subjects. They seek constant feedback and welcome critique. Contrastly, leaders cannot be leaders if they do not also make the difficult not-so-popular decisions for the benefit of the greater good. True leaders have gained the trust of their followers to make those difficult decisions without opposition. On the other hand, practically one should recognise that leadership is sometimes flued, the one with the best plan and knowledge to execute it becomes the leader for that moment. Think of Winston Churchill as being the best leader for winning a war, but was sidetracked when it came to rebuilding a nation. Learning Spherical Organisations (As opposed to Hierarchical Pyramid type Organisations) know how to do that, and work together as a team to achieve the best results.
Christian Leaders should never lord over our people! “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. (Mark 10:42-43)
A household is a perfect example of that. The husband and wife are both leaders and work reciprocally together taking turns in leading an aspect of the household. The father is ultimately the one who will be held accountable for how he mentored and taught his whole family into maturity in Christ. (Eph 5:27) I, therefore, believe that true leaders are enablers! Jesus’ servant-leadership model did exactly that: Enabling 12 young men to become the 12 apostles of the church. His SHOW and NOW-YOU-DO-IT model is still considered the best way to truly transfer knowledge and skills.
What then should our conduct be regarding leadership?
Sadly many people have been hurt by leaders. Leaders do not always get it right. Leaders are not perfect, and as a result, many people begin to resist any form of authority. No one wants to be told to do something anymore. The current leadership model is: We need people’s buy-in, we first need to convince people and rally their vote. Modern leaders have become social psychologists to trap people into doing something. The struggle is how to achieve a balance between individualism and united participation.
How then should we react to leadership and mentorship, without opening ourselves up to further hurt? We cannot protect ourselves against hurt, he who tries to save his life will lose it (Mat 16:25). We can only trust and believe in God, doing it His way that He will bring healing in all of us. When leadership does fail, we should not focus on man, but look to God who will work together everything for good, for those who are called according to His purposes (Rom 8:29). He is Lord of Lord of His Church.
In my experience, when one matures even through bad leadership, your maturity brings the release and breakthrough.
The word of God gives us clear guidelines on what our conduct should be regarding leadership. Firstly, we need to understand why this is so important in the times we live in. God cannot judge the earth before He has judged His church first. Before God can judge the lawlessness in the earth, He has to judge it in the church. (2 Pet 4:17)
1. Remember them. Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct (Hebrews 13:7). The church does not exist for the believer but the believer for the church. Remember the famous speech of J. F. Kennedy “Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country!” Too often we become so need orientated in the church, the pastor should always take care of my need, pray for me, help me, teach me, and we almost never think of them. Are they coping? Are their needs met? How regularly do you pray for your leadership? Do not forget that they are just people like you. They will be judged and asked to give account of that which was entrusted to them.
2. Obey and submit to leaders. Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:17). Being a leader myself I know that I only want the best for my people, that they should grow and mature in the Lord. I cannot understand why people question leadership, murmur and grumble so easily, when leaders have our best interest at heart. It is almost like children’s hostility toward their parents at times as well. I remember going on my first big hike with a few friends. When we started off, I set a very fast pace. My friend who was an experienced hiker and mountaineer, suggested a much slower, almost tortoise like kind of pace. At first, I grumbled saying if we start like this, we will never make it. Until I realised, he knew more than me and was an authority on the matter, therefor it would be better to submit. Although it felt awkward at first, I did reach the summit with reasonable ease. The reason we question leadership is because of our own negative experiences of the past. (Egypt) We have lost our faith and trust in the leaders. This is understandable, but without faith we cannot please God. Therefor it is important to ask God to open our spiritual eyes regarding the leaders God has appointed over us. Do not judge them according to your or their past, believe what you have been shown in the Spirit by God concerning them.
3. Pray for them. for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour. (1 Timothy 2:2-3) Praying for leadership is the best thing you can do for yourself. Not accusing them before the Lord but asking God to reveal to you who they are in the spirit, then to pray that into existence. Pray about your role, and how you can help and assist them.
4. Submitting will save you and protect you. Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgement on themselves.3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.5 Therefore, you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. (Romans 13:1-5) Leaders are there for our protection.
Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme,14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.17 Honour all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. (1 Peter 2:13-17)
Who is like a wise man? 1 And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom makes his face shine, And the sternest of his face is changed.2 I say, “Keep the king’s commandment for the sake of your oath to God.3 “Do not be hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand for an evil thing, for he does whatever pleases him.” 4 Where the word of a king is, there is power; And who may say to him, “What are you doing?”5 He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful; And a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgement. (Ecclesiastes 8:1-5)
To fully understand this, you have to close your eyes to your own experiences, training and thoughts about leadership, and align yourself according to the Word of God first. The flesh wants to take a different route. The world says, if the leader does not cut it, they should be removed. We are very quick to give our opinions on how the country should be led, how the coach should coach our national team and how our boss should have done this or that. The problem is that it is not our authority, we have not been assigned to that position, so mind your own business, and pray for the leaders. This is not as easy as it seems. You can only change the thing that is in your power to change. You can only fix the car when you have the necessary power, knowledge and resources. When you do not have the power to change or influence someone, do not whine, gossip, complain and murmur about it. You do the right thing, rather than worry about the right thing some other person should have done. That is out of your league. that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you. (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
There is tremendous safety in submitting, for you are obeying God. He will personally protect you because of your act of faith and humility. I have so often seen people leave a church out of rebellion or strive, to end up being out of the ministry, divorced, and spiritually emotionally and physically bankrupt. Where those who choose to submit were not only saved but also exalted in their time. Beware of speaking evil of a God’s anointed, you’ll end up fighting with God Himself. Don’t you think God can take care of His own business? He has hired and is capable of firing also.
What should our conduct be when leaders are in error?
In the light of recent public scandals of prominent spiritual leaders, we have to take time and prayerfully discover the ancient paths of righteousness, both leaders and members!
It is one thing to challenge a friend, coworker or peer, but when confrontation involves a boss, parent, teacher or religious leader, we often have second thoughts about speaking up.
LEARN TO ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE:
The First key is to ask questions without any hidden offence, accusation, pre-conceived notion, and judgement.
“why do you speak in parables?” Mat 13:10
“explain to us the parable of the tares?” Mat 13:36
MAKE A GODLY APPEAL
Abraham approached God to change His mind about destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen 18:22) This is man disagreeing with God!! Abraham did not question God’s authority or sovereignty to do as He chooses. His plight was not personal, and he had nothing to gain, but reason the decision with God.
Moses al pleaded with God on behalf of the rebellious murmuring Israelites. (Exo 32:11-12, 14) Moses is clearly on God’s side, and not in any rebellion, he acts as an advocate.
START WITH HONOR
Nicodemus came with first giving honour. “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (Joh 3:16) Both Abraham and Moses affirmed God’s position of supremacy and even used it as a basis for their pleas. “Far be it from You!” said Abraham. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” And Moses reminded God of His great power and mighty hand in bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. Would God now set Himself up for ridicule by destroying His own people.
Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ” (Luk 18:3-5)
GAIN INFLUENCE AND TRUST FIRST
Nehemiah had influence with the King, because of his attitude and truthfulness. “Now I had never been sad in his presence before.” (Neh 2:1) Joseph gain favour with the Prison guard, who appointed him over all the other prisoners. (Gen 39:21-22) Daniel is the best example of exemplary work ethic and total loyalty even to a narcissistic, self-absorbed, totalitarian inhumane pagan king. “My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!” (Dan 4:19)
We do not have to accept manipulation, then we are as guilty as the one who manipulates us into doing unrighteousness. There is therefore a place where one simply disobey and walks away. Neither Jesus nor the apostles obeyed the Sanhedrin’s command to not testify and spread the good news of the gospel. It was not a rebellion, but a passive resistance to partake in evil.
BEWARE OF ANY FORM OF REBELLION
Rebellion against God’s appointed authority is rebellion against God. What then do we do when we see leadership err and fail the Christ-like standards of holiness and righteousness? Sometimes we feel like taking matters into our own hands, not understanding the leadership structure, resulting in a spiritual Court Marshall. There is perfect order in heaven. It is our task to let that order become reality here on earth as it is in heaven.
The Bible gives precise instructions and protocol on how not to deal with spiritual Leadership’s perceived failure.
Do not stretch out your hand against God’s anointed. Then the men of David said to him, “This is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will deliver your enemy into your hand, that you may do to him as it seems good to you.’ ” And David arose and secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.5 Now it happened afterward that David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe.6 And he said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.”9 And David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and be guiltless?”10 David said furthermore, “As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. (1 Samuel 24:4-6; 26:9-10)
Who will judge another’s servant? Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4)
Who will bring charge against God’s elect? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33)
Dissension of Aaron & Miriam. The judgement against Miriam, for standing up in rebellion against God’s appointed one, was severe. (Numbers 12) Korah’s rebellion against Moses and Aaron Numbers 16 resulted in their death. These influential men thought they had a case, and they probably had a one, but they saw in the natural not the spirit. When looking in the spirit, the purpose God had with Moses was much greater than Moses himself. God was seeing the future of His people, Christ, the church etc. Here is another lesson we can learn. So often successful men in the world think they can bring the knowledge they have gained into the church to come help the church. God does not need man’s help, only our obedience. Note the balance, ambition is not wrong, there is always a part that man has to fulfil, but only after God gave the command. Selfish ambition – I want to do great things for God. Destiny – God is doing great things through you. The point is, who is taking the initiative, God or man?
The people’s rebellion against Moses resulted in 14700 people killed. They had a reason to rebel too! 250 leaders and their families were just killed! What they missed though was that there were much greater things at stake. God was preparing a nation that was to produce the Saviour of the world. The vision Moses had received was not given to all, disobeying him would result in never seeing the vision realised themselves. Moses was seeing the Promised Land in the Spirit. He was seeing them conquering the land.
The error of Moses (Numbers 20) is the key of understanding the operations of God. He saw the Promised Land, but from afar, because of His disobedience. Remember Moses was but a sent one, someone who was willing to obey, none of the miracles that he performed was because of himself, or initiated by himself, nor accomplished by himself. He would go to God, who gave a command, Moses obeyed it, and God would move. When he consulted God, God again gave a command, which, because of his anger, he did not do. He took the people’s rebellion personally, and Moses missed it. This was such an important time; the new generation was about to enter the land after the short-sightedness disloyalty of their ancestors. It was imperative that they understand true obedience to God. They needed to see and comprehend within themselves the sequence of God’s operation with them. They had to understand the code of this army in order to win the battle. God had to deal harshly with Moses, but Moses understood that, and peacefully gave the reign over to Joshua. This obedience and code were what made them see great miracles and wonders. This story also shows that God prevented the greatest leader of all time, second to Jesus, to not enter the promised land. Remember that leaders will receive a stricter judgement.
We have to understand and allow God to open our spiritual eyes, that we may not think too highly of ourselves, and see the parameters (Metron) of our authority. That is why so many churches and people have become powerless, for they are not operating under the authority and grace of God. For instance, I cannot correct your children in your house, for their wrong behaviour, if you have not given me the authority to do so.
You cannot stand up against God’s anointed and rebel because you are seeing a mistake in their lives. That is what happened to Korah and God destroyed him and his family. In Jude we read in verse 8. “Those rejecting authority and speak evil of dignitaries.” These are the men and woman Jude warn the church against! He explains in the next verse that not even Gabriel the archangel, dare to bring a reviling accusation against the devil.
Then in verse 12 He says “Woe to them” people like that, they are like Cain who murdered his brother, because He was not happy with God accepting Abel’s offering and not his.
Toxic leaders unfortunately also use these very scriptures to defend their positions, status and privileges. People feel afraid to address perceived wrongdoing, and eventually do nothing, unconsciously condoning the error. Truth is paradoxical. The abovementioned scriptures are 100% truth. Another opposite 100% truth is the fact that we are all first children of God. No positions, titles and special privileges. We will all face judgement and will be rewarded according to our works and fruit. We all received the same power, grace and means to fulfil righteousness!
When we deal with another in righteousness, treat each other as royalty, and remain thankful for His divine enablement we cannot falter. Do we misunderstand, miscommunicate, misappropriate and get it wrong at times? Certainly, all of us!
I hope the steps and protocol outlined in the small book will help us to remain family, stay engaged, work through our differences and grow up mature representation of the sons of God in the earth.
Some traits of Maturity as per a recent Facebook post where different people contributed, are their understanding of spiritual maturity.
- The ability to self-correct
- Humble confidence
- Servant leadership
- Can postpone pleasure/wanting
- Strength under control
- Responsible self-management
- Childlike wonder & gratitude
- Rigid in foundational truths, yet flexible in approach
- Integrity and a Kingdom standard of righteousness
- Yielded to the voice of the good shepherd.
- Not controlling but authoritative.
- Considers others higher than self.
- Has a healthy view of self.
- Great commission and command as a lifestyle rather than event.
- Body orientated
- Resurrected Surrendered life
- Willing to yield
- Repent and die daily
- Keep your peace and joy in difficult circumstances
Eventually this is the final outcome, the ultimate end-result of all we do and become. To be reformed into the image of Christ Jesus our Lord.
May every person God has given us to be part of this part of the family of Christ grow in maturity and Christlike fruit. May our testimony among people who know us be that we are loving, gentle, spontaneous people. People who have spiritual depth and are steadfast in their faith. People who consistently bear the fruit of the Spirit. Instruments of mighty miracles signs and wonders and all the gifts of the Spirit. Trustworthy, faithful and sincere people you can rely on. Pillars in the community who use their influence for the benefit of those who are oppressed and underprivileged. People whose character, words and actions are one straight line. People who not only bless you with their words but who actively help and support you until you are back on your feet. People whose business operations bear witness to godliness: being on time, virtue, cleanliness, creativity, quality work and accuracy. People full of grace, faith and freedom!
The ultimate fruit that God is looking for when He examines the Church is – Christ is being formed in all of us! Amen!!
What should our conduct be re Doctrinal Error? Ap Dr Andre Pelser
During my years in apostolic ministry in many nations I have often come across church splits and had to assist pastors in regaining confidence after setting things in order. I also pastored two churches after they went through church splits. The rebuilding process is long and arduous. Through experience I have learned that church splits, if detected early enough, can be prevented. Once the ‘rebellion’ has reached a certain stage it is better to let it go. Irreparable damage can be done by ‘rebels’.
But apostasy is quite another kettle of fish.
Very little material is available on handling an apostasy. By definition, an apostasy is a falling away from a doctrine learned. This lines up with the kyrugma or preaching of an apostle. Once he has introduced apostolic values and perspective to the lives of the saints, they have a choice whether or not they would like to adhere to what they have been taught.
In apostle Paul’s case he had a battle with two major opponents during his troubled career as an apostle: the legalists and the Gnostics, or the ones who lift the law above the work of the Holy Spirit and stifle any steady progress for the sake of upholding their religious traditions in which they have prominence. The Gnostics, on the other hand, have an inadvertent love for knowledge for knowledge’s sake and would not be concerned about the application of the knowledge to change lives but rather to further their teachings and grow in popularity and influence. These two major forces still oppose the present-day apostolic ministry just as they did in the time of Paul.
Whenever a church embraces present day truths concerning apostolic ministry there is a great possibility of an eventual apostasy due to the fact that the initial mental excitement will not be sufficient to carry enthusiastic ‘hangers-on’ through the times of tribulation and persecution once the reality of the entire apostolic spectrum becomes apparent in a church community. There is a price to pay to harbour apostolic fellowship in a church. Yet the glory always outweighs the sufferings and for those who have the will to go through the storms, reaching the destination of having a church that is fully fledged five-fold in its ministry operation is a blessing far beyond words can describe!
According to Ephesians 4 the saints cannot be perfected ultimately if apostles or prophets are absent.
Armed with prior knowledge about the danger of an apostasy and how to overcome it if it should transpire, a church leader could enter the apostolic dimension fearlessly knowing what trials await and how to counteract the wiles of the enemy that wants to keep apostolic ministry as a fossilized historic event with no relevance for the church of today.
In the scriptures mentioned in the section on disciplinary code of conduct, it is obviously clear that most of the prescribed disciplinary measures was against those who err in doctrinal beliefs.
The bible categorises false doctrine as:
- various descriptions of precepts of men: Mat 15:9
- misleading doctrine: Eph 4:14
- strange doctrines: 1 Tim 1:3
- doctrines of demons: 1 Tim 4:1
- different doctrine: 1 Tim 6:3; 2 Joh 9–10
- myths: 2 Tim 4:4:
- the teaching of Balaam: Rev 2:14 (cf. 2:20):
- the teaching of the Nicolaitans: Rev 2:15:
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. (1 Tim 6:3-5)
It goes then to reason that; doctrinal unity is vital to the qualitive growth of the church into the likeness of Jesus Christ. One should expect resistance; a paradigm shift in one’s thinking takes time, and sometimes it takes a calamity. It is human tendency to default to old thinking processes, particularly when facing resistance and suffering. This is why the truth has to be applied, then tested, to secure its roots. (Mat 13:21)
Resigning from a particular church, group or individual because of their doctrinal inaccuracy is then justified in the Bible, but when people resign because of their resistance, or apathy to remain in the newly acquired truth it is called an apostasy.
In the light of increasing deception, and post-modern liberalism the church awaits the difficult task to have apostolic doctrinal master-builders who can disseminate and defend the Truth in simple, practical, understandable, indefeasible instructions and perspective in the light of the person of Christ. Towards the end: till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ! (Eph 4:13-15)