Faith has consequences. Our behavior and beliefs answer to one another. If we fail to act out the consequences of what we believe, we must ultimately deny or redefine our faith.
Faithfulness speaks of our “fulfillment-of-faith,” of behavior and lifestyle that prioritizing life by arranging the highest and lowest and everything else in between. We are faithful to what we really believe because we act out the consequences of our faith.
Faithful has the sense of “believer” as condition based upon the decision to believe. I believe, therefore, I am a believer. Believers can be faithful to what they believe. Being “believable” aids people’s faith in you as a leader. Believing that what you are and say, your assignment and call, is believable is fundamental to being faithful to your leadership.
When you are not faithful yourself, you deepen the enemy’s ability to create doubt in people’s minds about being faithful to your leadership, or being faithful to you. When the enemy is able to undermine someone’s trust in you, belief in you, the enemy has that person poised to betray you. Believable speaks to trust. People will not follow someone they don’t trust.
The phrases “to whom much is given, much is required” and “faithful in little, given much” speak directly to faith and faithfulness. Faithfulness is based upon belief, not upon quantities.
We often substitute “preference” for conviction and call it “belief.” Preference, when tested by fire, reveals where we lack full-faith to be faithful. The test reveals that we actually prefer a certain consequence consistent with our faith, not that we would suffer or even die before we would deny our faith by failing to act out its consequences.
Leadership and Faithfulness
Faithfulness also measures good leadership. Jesus and Paul, among others, used this test to measure their own ministry leadership, and the leadership of others. Both identified faithfulness to conviction as fundamental to good leadership, for leader who cannot maintain behavior and priority of his assignment, cannot be trusted with greater authority and leadership.
Paul speaks about faithfulness with reference to his spiritual sons and reveals this as a measurement test clearly with specific reference to Timothy. “That’s why I sent Timothy, my beloved son, faithful to the Lord, to you [the Corinthian ecclesia]; he will rehearse and remind you of what I taught you and every ecclesia everywhere.”
Apostles cannot send unfaithful leaders who have not been tested and measured by faithfulness because apostles answer for their assignments. They have assignments to their spiritual children as well as shared assignments with their spiritual children. Sending is one important aspect of apostolic assignment: if they were to send leaders who were unfaithful to the assignment, they would jeopardize the entire assignment, risk losing what they had invested in the places and people of their assignments.
Unfaithful sons change the assignment instead of expanding or inheriting the assignment.
Timothy’s faithfulness was first “to the Lord,” of course, but his faithfulness to the Lord was measured by his faithfulness to Paul’s teaching and leadership. His faithfulness to the Lord involved the Lord’s assignment with Timothy’s spiritual father. Being “faithful to the Lord” would have applied to tens of thousands of people touched by Paul’s ministry. Yet these “faithful to the Lord” people did not share Paul’s assignment in the same way Timothy did. In this sense they were faithful to the Lord, but they were people that Paul would never send.
This is, in fact, one vital function of leadership and apostolic fathering. First, apostolic leaders must be weighed and proven to be leaders of full weight, not just polished appearance. Then, they are responsible to weigh leaders who they commend to the Body of Christ and maintain such accountability to ensure that these leaders do not shave off some of the weight and become counterfeit in purity and purpose.
We have responsibility to maintain the integrity of our kingdom currency. The term “fraud” speaks of appearance that is used to gain advantage over someone else, at the other person’s expense. This measurement isn’t done by Jesus or going to wait until the end of times. The measurement of Jesus is the ultimate; the measurement of leaders here and now is the measurement of function.
Being faithful to the Lord and Paul’s leadership made Timothy a good choice for being sent on assignment to the Corinthians. Paul knew Timothy by walking with his spiritual son, proving that Timothy was faithful.
Having faith is different than having tested faith; full of faith is different from being proven faithful. That is why the Bible makes it clear that leaders must be proven at each level of their leadership, so no sending occurs without testing.
There are no instant leaders in the kingdom because the kingdom functions on faith and faithfulness.
To this note, let me say that there have been periods of spiritual history that produced international leaders in a relatively short time in the sense of leaders moving around internationally, but no period of history has produced instant leaders at an international level of leadership who have been given assignments to provide fathering leadership to regions. These leaders are tested and proven. There is a direct correlation between the standard of testing faithfulness and the scope of leadership assignment. Faithful in little qualifies for authority in much.
Leadership faithfulness reveals the meaning of “many are called but few are chosen.” The chosen are found faithful. The called would obviously be “many” because God wants everybody. But He never starts with everybody. He uses the faithful to instill faithfulness in others.
I have a greater understanding of this truth today than ever before! The present testing of our faith more clearly reveals our convictions by measuring our faithfulness, and the many-called are failing tests of faith is startling numbers when what they believe doesn’t pass the present test of faithfulness. Their slogans slur. Their preferences start showing. Their refrigerator-magnet-faith hits the floor. Big talk about big things hits harsh reality when they face a Gethsemane of finishing the work Father gave them to do.
Starting is easy. Finishing is hard. Being gifted, talented, and anointed is easy since you didn’t do anything to get what was freely provided. Not quitting is hard.
Running around receiving impartation is understandable, I applaud it, will do it myself on a regular basis because I love to see God’s gifts, anointing, and personal talents activated. I am not cynical about that, but I am wise enough to know the many-called people receive these gifts as easily as the faithful who are chosen.
Gifts, anointing, personal talents are given, not earned. Authority is earned. Like Timothy. Yes, but not without testing experiences. Chosen because he was found faithful. I refuse to give people a platform to display gifts and anointing; I give leaders opportunity to display faithfulness. So, some are surprised when they display great anointing and I say, wait. Judas was anointed. Saul was anointed like David.
You don’t have authority because you are sweet, kind, loving, nice, pleasant, or cute. You have authority because you are faithful, because you don’t quit when it is tough or you don’t get what you demand, because you didn’t justify your own drop-out behavior, because you remain faithful to your assignment.
Singular thought: that Jesus and Paul operate their ministries with this fathering leadership, with the core values of discipling and kingdom. Paul knows that being “faithful to the Lord” isn’t enough to represent, to function in authority, to become a tested leader, because faithful to the Lord means faithful in your assignment.
Philippians 2:22 says of Timothy, “But you know he has been proven, that as a son with his father, he has served with me in the Gospel.” Do not miss the references in this verse to the tests of faithfulness. Faithfulness is tested in the assignments.
The term for “proven” in this sentence is “dokimos.” It speaks of proven weight as a measure of acceptance. Without paper money to represent things of real worth like gold and silver, all money was made from soft metal. When the coins cooled from the forging, uneven and sharp edges were trimmed. Of course, this became a source of temptation, the temptation to shave a bit too much from coins and collect these shaving to add to one’s wealth. The concept of shaving off worth and passing around coins that were lighter than they should be created a great problem, their form of counterfeiting coins. Greeks passed many laws to stop the practice of shaving down the coins, but money-changers of integrity would accept no counterfeit money. They proved the coins and became men of honour who put only genuine full-weighted money into circulation. This word was used to describe such men. were called “” or “approved.”
Paul says Timothy has been proven acceptable and is a man of integrity who does not shave off the real to present a counterfeit for his own advantage.
A man or woman faithful to their spouse is experiencing the tests of faith in their faithfulness. In a greater sense, faithful to their spouses is one measurement test of their faithfulness to the Lord. For certain, unfaithfulness in marriage is unfaithfulness to the Lord. To say, “faithful to the Lord” while being unfaithful to your spouse requires a redefinition of your basic beliefs, your covenant relationships, your vows before God who joined together.
Paul tells both the Corinthians and Philippians to trust Timothy’s leadership because Paul has tested the younger man’s faithfulness. Timothy passed the tests. The boy didn’t quit on his assignments, didn’t betray his faith because it didn’t suit his own vision or destiny, cost too much, or didn’t fit his personal timeline for greatness and potential. Timothy didn’t sit around crying “when will it be my time?”
Timothy didn’t betray his spiritual father with justifications for using his father to get what he wanted, the father-as-santa-clause syndrome. Timothy stepped into his role as the apostolic leader of his generation, at the center of the Ephesus ecclesia, because he was faithful to an apostolic leader in his generation.
Authority isn’t based upon gifts, natural grace, miracles, anointing, fire, and high-fives at the signs and wonders workout, authority expands in people who earn authority by not quitting in their assignments.
You have the authority of your assignment.
No matter how many gifts you have, they do not properly function within a vacuum, nor do they properly function just because they function. That is, running around healing people isn’t kingdom come like a masked-man, spiritual Zoro. The kingdom of God isn’t you alone. It is kingdom. Healing people is kingdom come when you are properly functioning within the kingdom.
Yes, you can and should say, ‘I am revival! I am a ministry!” But remember that the leaders who first taught these principles would gasp in shock at the idea that this means you are a lone ranger for Jesus. hell will celebrate your miracles and gifts when it sees that you avoid accountability because hell will have eventually have opportunity to discredit Jesus when your weaknesses or fatal flaws are revealed.
You are failing the tests of faith and leadership if you aren’t walking in faithfulness to assignment, living contrary to kingdom norms.
Faithfulness Values Accountability
Good customer service doesn’t mean a restaurant never has a problem. This imperfect world and people will always produce problems. The test of good customer service is what a restaurant does about solving the problems.
Move that thought into kingdom leadership. God knows that problems will abound. He isn’t looking to gift and anoint perfect people. He has a strategy for kingdom that includes fathering leadership. He has a plan for the problems. The plan reveals a level of redemptive restoration available in the power of the Cross! He has designed kingdom to grow and mature spiritual children by their accountability to kingdom leaders who function in a fathering spirit.
Human infants may be the most helpless in Creation. God designed parents to nurture nearly helpless infants on purpose! In the same way, God assumes that spiritual people will grow up with spiritual parents.
Move that idea into the kingdom. God designed discipling to occur in fathering relationships so kingdom infants would have immediate spiritual leadership. Keeping them helpless would be a betrayal of His design, and this dysfunction has plagued the modern American church for several spiritual generations. Fathering matures children into ministering leaders.
Then, fathering continues throughout our spiritual lives. Faithfulness expands authority because authority is earned. Getting people into anointing, activating spiritual gifts, identifying their calling is very easy compared to getting them to live the life that leaders with such gifts and anointing live! Don’t think that generations of the church have faltered because they ignored the gifts and the anointing when the reality is they ignored the discipling assignment of creating faithful leaders with gifts and anointing.
The Body will not function better because it is more gifted. We learned this at Corinth. The Body will not function better because it remains tied to tradition. We learned this at Jerusalem. The Body will not function better because it experiences regional transformation. We learned this in the churches of the Revelation.
The Body will function better because it has good leadership, when it has “leaders who make leaders.” We learn this from Jesus and Paul who both imparted gifts and anointing, broke the back of religion, and walked in regional transformational authority but prepared inheritors of purpose who lifted the ecclesia to another level after they were gone.
Experiencing Father’s Passion for Purpose
God’s way of teaching people the love of the Father is by providing them fathers. Beware the concept that the Father wants you to experience His love because He wants you to feel loved. Oh, He does! But that is a long way from the what-Father-wants in the kingdom. He wants more than a kingdom of people who feel loved. He wants a kingdom of loved people who can father with His heart.
The “see how they love one another” does not assume that everyone feels loved but that everyone is equipped to experience and release the passion of the Father. God puts His love in you so He can release His love through you. The “I feel loved” part depends upon the person; the passion of the Father focuses our lives on His priorities, and we live faithful to what-Father-wants.
Father will cause you to experience His heart so you can learn to faithfulness through kingdom fathers He sets in place to produce leadership in your life. In this way, you can become a spiritual father. The fathering spirit is an atmosphere in which faith and faithfulness grow and mature.
The “turning of hearts” anointing is vital because the ecclesia is dysfunctional without fathering leadership.
We learn to lead by following. We learn to love by being loved. We learn to be faithful when someone is faithful to us. We learn to father when we are fathered.
When people run from correction and confrontation, they freeze-frame their personal leadership development. They kid themselves into thinking they will be better without a father or with the father of their own choosing, someone who fits their own definition of a father’s function, but the reality is that they will not function one smidgeon more in leadership than the level they were at when they ran off. It isn’t a “leader who gives you what you demand” that matures you, but a leader who tests your faithfulness.
God already knows what you will do in a given situation, so the tests aren’t for His information. The tests are there to reveal what is in our hearts. That is why father’s hearts are turned toward children, why children’s hearts are turned toward fathers.
Tests reveal the heart, so those God has set in place to deal with our hearts are the most valuable leaders in our lives.
Don’t think of the revival-that’s-here in terms of people saved, although millions will be born again. Don’t think of the revival-that’s-here in terms of gifts, miracles, signs and wonders, although the increase of these valid kingdom realities will occur. Don’t think of the revival-that’s-here in terms of big buildings and the trapping of mega-this and that although it will be massive! Think of this revival as revolutionary because the function of spiritual parents will be more fully restored.
Remember that God said He would send anointing to turn hearts of fathers and children before Messiah was revealed. To God, faithfulness is more basic than revival, miracles, evangelism, and gifts because faith without faithfulness will not expand authority. The kingdom isn’t Neverland or Disney. the accumulation and entertainment of babies and adolescents isn’t kingdom come. The kingdom produces spiritual adults who can function who can father more spiritual adults.
Faithfulness expands authority. It produces leaders. It produces more leaders through leaders who have learn faithfulness.