As the Lord continues to mature His Church, she must be willing to make changes concerning the existence and the roles of leaders in His Body. There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit spoke clearly in the last decade about the unnatural and unscriptural use of the pastor gift in the human institutional system. The landscape today is still littered with hurt saints who still have not recovered from the control and the manipulation that so naturally festers and breeds in the religious systems of men.
Our problem today is with words and their definitions, not with the will of the Lord. So, by example, the minute you use the word leader in an organic/simple church mindset all the brethren break out in spiritual hives. The simple truth is the organic/simple church body of Christ has responded in reaction to past leadership abuse and thrown the baby out with the bathwater.
For the record, the same misuse of leaders can be found in the two responses of the organic/simple church. Where leaders are rejected completely, the Body doesn’t get the edification it needs, meetings become boring, and leaders feel stymied and unsatisfied. Groups start well but soon die out for lack of desire. Where leaders are accepted but bring the same institutional paradigm to the small group, needy and codependent disciples with arrogant prideful leaders will be the result. Hurt saints and broken, burned-out leaders are just around the corner.
Good news is His Body has healed and matured and now finds herself ready to listen to a clearer, more defined understanding of what the Holy Spirit is saying to His Body. Our Lord left leaders for the good of His Body. Our purpose today it to help define and redefine the Lord’s intention as the Holy Spirit has given and is giving wisdom in this area.
Let’s look at the main argument against what the Holy Spirit is saying today.
- Christ doesn’t change. No, He doesn’t change, but our understanding of Him does as we mature in Him.
The prophetic gift is pointing the Body to see these changes. The apostolic gift is drawing the Lord’s design and blueprint for His Body. If there is anything I have learned since I left the institution 22 years ago is that Father doesn’t use a nonerasable marker “Sharpie” because He is progressive in His revelation to His people. He doesn’t give us what we can’t handle, and he understands the pains of our past.
2 Peter 1:19 And we have the prophetic word RHEMA [made] firmer still. You will do well to pay close attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place, until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star CHRIST rises ([a]comes into being) in your hearts. AMPC
One of our greatest problems today for understanding the role of leaders in the Body is our fascination with House meetings. This idea that we are only living the life of Christ when we are in a house meeting is the flesh crying out for a location for His gifts and presence to operate. He is in us and wherever two or three are gathered there He is! We need to understand that the moment we get out of bed and our feet touch the ground, we are His church. What part of :Daily: de we not understand? When you are washing the dirty dishes for your tired wife, you are living the Christ life. There is nothing in Ephesians 4:9-13 about the gifts operating only within four walls whether that be a church building or a house.
Another problem is our human concepts of success that we drag like baggage into our spiritual life. For the record, God’s real leaders are not visible and front stage all the time. Their gifts don’t function out loud as much as they live before us as an example and express their maturity by their servanthood to the Body. Yes, apostles sweep floors and move tables and chairs. In fact, if they don’t serve in what we consider to be menial tasks, and instead are looking to be served, they are impostors and they are not really God’s leaders.
Real leaders are naturally relational. They love and minister to the Body of Christ in His name. When I say in His name, I mean with His nature and humility incarnated in their life. They also don’t feel that they must use their gifts to prove their spirituality. Because you say you have a word for someone doesn’t prove you are mature and can be trusted to minister to His people. In the Body of Christ, leaders are known for their love, godliness and consistent lifestyle. It takes time to become a real leader and their selfless relationship with you will win your trust.
Real leaders know how to hear the voice of the Lord. They don’t share everything they hear like a sprinkler system watering the lawn. They also don’t walk around with a Bible under their arm like it’s an appendage of their body. A real leader moves only at the Voice of the Lord which they receive by direction from the Holy Spirit. They serve no new programs or strategies from those who believe themselves to be the “higher ups”. They love and welcome other leaders to judge what they believe to be hearing from the Lord because they understand its not their church or their flock. They also understand that the full truth is in Christ, and it can be discerned by His whole Body.
Real leaders are genuinely and authentically humble. They will not let the Body of Christ put them on a pedestal because of their gifts. God’s leaders know who the Head of the Church is. They walk in Holy reverence about taking the Lord’s glory unto themselves. Life has ground down their youthful pride and they only live now to please the Lord. When they are in a group you will not know who they are unless you look into their eyes or hear them speak. They don’t seek titles or human renumeration for the gifts which they are privileged to use for His Glory. Real leaders don’t have a business card or a Facebook account with a title in front of their name and expect you to submit untested to their “position” in the Body. A real leader will never call himself “Reverend” since the only reverend in the Body is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Real leaders are teachable. They don’t babble on and on about what they learned in the seminary. They instead can tell you what the Lord taught them yesterday. These leaders are constantly learning because there hearts a pliable in the Lord’s hands. They don’t go to another city or region and declare their way of doing things as the last word. They understand that Christ is raising up native leaders for His Body who can better serve His people that any missionary from another culture in another context. They understand Father can choose to use anyone from anywhere to minister to them. Finally, you will always be welcomed into their life.
I could quote you a litany of Bible verses to prove the things I have shared with you, but I am not after the reasonings of your mind. I refuse to enter into a bible verse duel with the reader with all its subsequent bantering back and forth. Especially if you still believe what you were taught about the bible to be the final authority for all things Christian. Instead I choose to appeal to the hearing of Christ in your Spirit and His confirmation to your heart.
God help us to make room in our own context for His true leaders. May the Church be edified and may His Body be healed!
Jose L Bosque
For a complete understanding see Jon Zens article on the importance of all the voices in His Body
Our success in life is determined by one primary objective: how functionally transformed into Christ’s likeness have we become? If He sees that we were forgiving even when wounded; if He sees in us a heart that holds fast its faith even in times of adversity; if He finds us to be truly repentant and genuinely humble, even when we could boast; and if He sees we are… committed to a life of love, we will have fulfilled the purpose of God. We will receive a great reward.
Very solid article and true in my first hand experience. Leaders are with the body no matter what they are called or not called. I would say the intention in the body is that leadership rests in Jesus’ leading by the Spirit and not in one person until they vacate the position. While some are natural leaders who have experience and maturity, the Lord may speak through any of his vessels and the body should be quick to listen and very slow to dismiss input from anyone in the body.
Thanks Mark for the affirmation
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