[The examples I use in this blog are not of people who live in my current home town or are part of my current ministry leadership. Of course, they may resemble some people that are, so I say this up front – they are not. The stories represent hundreds like them. I’m referring to patterns of behavior or examples I’ve seen several times.]
Leadership begins with personal leadership and extends outward from intimate to international in terms of influence and impact. What influences you will release through your influence. The strategic functions of leadership in your personal life, domestic life, financial life, spiritual life, and local ministry leadership will mark the strategic functions of every level of your leadership. Mark your home base as the source of international influence.
Leaders function according to God’s design, and God’s design includes strategic order. That is, God has a designed order for leadership at every level beginning with personal leadership in your life. God designed leadership roles and order for the family. God designed order for government and nations. God designed order for leadership at the international level. God’s order certainly defines functions in the Ecclesia. And, God’s order provides protocols for the kingdom.
Order doesn’t describe limitation or imprisonment. Order describes the flow of a river, the pattern of art, the infrastructure of a city, the support system of a family. Order speaks to protocols of a kingdom that allow the design to function properly, for priorities to be pursued, and for purpose to be fulfilled.
God created order into His universe marking time with movement, differentiating between life forms and species, making what He started sustainable. In this, Jesus most specifically “holds it all together.” God remains fully involved in His Creation: and where He is involved He is working according to His own order.
In personal leadership, for example, you should live SpiritFirst, not body first or soul first. The proper order is produced through your spirit, living by spiritual priorities, power, and authority. In your intimate relationships, marriage, family, friendships, you should live by God’s designed order for function: roles define relationships define responsibilities.
Tragically, I have seen people attempt to lead at an international level with personal and intimate disorder. I say, “tragically” because that is the outcome of attempting to establish order at an international level with disorder at the personal or intimate level of your life.
Someone who has an assignment to nations should look carefully at the order of their own lives as a home base for that outreach. They should examine the order of their own heart. They should be accountable for the order of their own home. They should experience the order of ministry at a local level. They should have a microcosm of the greater influence as a working model of their greater influence.
Of course, many avoid this very thing for a number of reasons. Perhaps they mistakenly see what they do far away or to many people or in a different culture as insignificant or unrelated, but that very assumption is an open door to a leaven of deception! Testing the limits of the order of your marriage five thousands miles away is treacherous! Testing the limits of your SpiritFirst living in front of ten thousand strangers is nearly always dangerous to you and the kingdom. Testing your message and methods with people you can walk away from, no matter how impacting your ministry and anointing, will open your life to the work of hell at a personal level – hell thrives on disorder.
Personal leadership speaks to the Father’s consistent involvement in your discipline, maturity, endurance, submission, and righteousness.
I worked with a couple whose marriage is out of order. In this case, the woman seems to see herself in international ministry while her husband’s role is to stay home, make money to pay for her tickets and expenses, and provide her a domestic setting to return to. She dominates his life spiritually by saying in his hearing that she is more mature, understand the Word more, has a calling he does not share, and “cannot be tied down by wifey things.” When she is home, she neglects him, her house, children, domestic responsibilities, and occasionally makes herself available to him as his partner, lover, and equal. All the while, she touts herself as an international minister. My advice to get her personal heart and domestic responsibilities in order were met with disdain and discussions about having “a different anointing” or “controlling leaders.”
I worked with a man whose personal thought life and intimacy was marred by shame who felt that his ministry to China was not affected by his inability to live in personal victory. He abused himself, his wife and daughters, and turned vicious and carnal with anyone who sought to do anything but give him money to travel to China. He spent most of his time moving around from ministry to ministry hoping to legitimize his calling when no one really had a big question about the legitimacy of his calling or ministry as much as they did with his complete inability to function within any ministry or be a responsible husband and father.
I worked with another man who seemed to have some authority in the spirit with regard to setting people free and bringing relief to their torments. He wouldn’t work, however, and support his own wife, using all the money she made to pay for airline tickets to travel to other nations while she worked and lived with another family member. He said aloud that she wasn’t spiritual enough for him and his calling, that he must obey God and go, that when he was overseas the miracles and deliverances were thousands upon thousands. (They were not.)
The Bible doesn’t describe anyone’s calling in a way that legitimizes personal or domestic disorder. To the contrary, Scripture asks that leaders exhibit personal leadership and domestic order to function as leaders.
“I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you’re unmarried, you’re free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I’m trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.” [The Message]
When taken in context of all Paul’s comments about marriage and ministry, nothing could be more obvious than Paul’s insistence that married people in ministry and leadership should be focused upon the order God designed for marriage and family. Breaches in these areas of life do not negate calling but they do limit function. Breaches in personal and domestic order should bring correction through accountability, so measurable improvement produces cause for trust. Breaches can be forgiven instantly but trust must be rebuilt over time in accountable ways.
Domestic disorder produces personal disorder, and the leader will minister and lead from the dysfunction. The entire ministry will be marked by the dysfunction of marriage and family, especially when family and ministry are blended in marked ways. When more than one member of a family is involved in ministry leadership, and the family suffers dysfunction, the entire ministry will feel the effects of that dysfunction. The disorder will produce dysfunction.,
I worked with a ministry that suffered for decades from family dysfunction, and the leader’s marriage and family dysfunction became a norm for his leadership. Making room for disorder became such a mark of the ministry that leaders who attempted to work with the family became “problems” or “enemies” because they could not suffer the disorder without experiencing the dysfunction. Confusion at home became confusion in the ministry, so to speak.
Not Perfect, But Orderly
Instead of order, the modern church tends to demand perfection. They tend to demand appearances over substance. They tend to ignore the need for leadership accountability in terms of order as long as they experience what they want from ministry.
We shouldn’t demand perfection nor burden ministry leaders with false expectations, but we should make room for a return to order and set a kingdom norm for personal and domestic order so that the kingdom will experience Divine order. God’s designed order provides the basis for healthy leadership.
I was sitting at the lunch table with a couple who have experienced a long history of turmoil in ministry leaving a trail of damaged relationships, wreckage at every stop along the way. Ruthanne and I made ourselves available to help, but it wasn’t five minutes into the meeting before I realized that we were witnessing disorder. Unable to communicate with one another, they were certainly unable to communicate with leaders or function as leaders. Five minutes into the meeting, she had her husband sitting back in his chair smiling at her discussion, passively allowing her to dominate the table with her wounds and misunderstandings, while he took the role of follower to her internal issues. When he’d sit up to say something, he didn’t get a whole out of his mouth before being interrupted, sitting back to grin passively at her expressing her feelings.
She had personal disorder that their relationship tolerated. Her husband had assumed a role of living with the disorder she brought into their marriage. At the same time, she is telling me that they are called to nations, been in ministry for decades, and the church has never understood them for their powerful anointing, wisdom, and leadership!
No one demands perfection for leadership. God chooses some really imperfect people to represent Him, and delights in transforming really inadequate people into kingdom leaders. God doesn’t ignore disorder, however, and sets these leaders in place to bring and maintain order! Understanding the difference between expectations and order is key to getting leadership in order. While we live by grace that enables us to fulfill the expectations God expressed in the law, we aren’t living by law as much as we are living by protocol.
Law is for evil doers. Protocol is for kingdom leaders.