A kingdom always functions on principles and protocols. The principles of God’s kingdom rest upon an agreement or covenant, or I would say, “a covenant agreement.” The terms of the covenant speak to the way the covenant operates. Kingdom leaders respond to the covenant agreement, and the covenant agreement provides a context in which the kingdom functions, a rationale for what we do and why we do it. The covenant agreement produces the psychology of the kingdom, the mind and motivations of Christ. The covenant agreement describes the roles, relationships, and responsibilities of the kingdom.
Understanding Covenant Agreements
Marriage is God’s most basic human covenant agreements. He designed it. He produces the covenant agreement by which marriage becomes what He created it to be. The question cannot be, “Is God in this marriage?” The question can only be, “How well does this marriage function according to its designed covenant agreement?” To this question Jesus says, “Because of the hardness of your hearts, Moses gave you a way to avoid the fullness of the covenant agreement. However, from the beginning of the Creation, God had something more than that in mind.”
Marriage sets new relationships, roles, and responsibilities. The relationship between parents and the children entering into kingdom marriage covenant changes, so the roles and responsibilities of that previous relationship shift as well. The relationship between the covenant partners changes so that they begin to relate to one another in a way that changes every other relationship in their lives in order to live out their roles and fulfill their responsibilities.
There is not mystical mistake in the fact that Paul says that marriage oneness is a “huge mystery” understood, as he explains in the surrounding context, by how Christ responds to His Ecclesia. The relationships, roles, and responsibilities of Christ and the Ecclesia respond to covenant agreement between jesus and the kingdom Ecclesia. In this way, Paul says we can understand the marriage covenant.
Covenant principles and protocols operate through alignment. The covenant agreement provide for the flow of authority and authorization. The alignment is set in place by the culture of the kingdom, so the King remains Lord of His realm. Family has alignment. Cultures have alignment. Ecclesia has alignment. The roles, relationships, and responsibilities of leaders are delineated through alignments. Some people call this “covering.” Others called this “under authority.” Other say, “Chain of command.” No matter how the concept is titled or explained, the end result remains that alignment nullifies autonomy. The covenant agreement provides a means through which authority flows to every person within the kingdom.
Alignment provides for representation. Aligning with Jesus provides the flow of His authority. Jesus aligns with Father to accomplish His assignment, to fulfill His Father’s will. Jesus sets a chain of command, covering, under authority set of protocols and principles that make kingdom leadership available to every citizen of the kingdom through the roles, relationships, and responsibilities of marriage, culture, and Ecclesia. Many alignments occur over which we have little control or decision making that we either alignment with or suffer deficiencies in life.
We do not chose our parents. We did not choose Adam as the first man or Eve as the first woman. We do not choose our kingdom leadership as much as we agree with the positioning Jesus provides us to carry out our callings. We are represented in culture by many leaders we do not directly choose. The alignment remains our safest position, greatest opportunity for success, and most empowering authorization. Aligning with God’s representatives is essential for us as representatives of God.
Kingdom alignment operates through honor. While all citizens have eternal value, the kingdom value or worthiness of kingdom leaders flows through alignments. We defer to God’s alignment by honoring the leaders He sends to represent Him in the roles, relationships, and responsibilities He assigns them. The covenant agreement assumes this alignment, and with the alignment certain principles and protocols apply.
Obedience flows toward the King through allegiance to His representatives. Submission flows toward the King through agreement and alliance with His representatives. To step out of the order of protocol is to expose yourself to disorder, to short circuit the safety of good counsel, and to destabilize the structures through God’s blueprints build kingdom, expanding and establishing His rule.
Understanding Covenantal “Covering”
I stopped using the term “covering” when the term took on meanings distant from the kingdom leadership dynamics of Jesus. It is not a Bible word although used properly by many good and wholesome leaders to describe how alignment with leaders provides protection through accountability. The concept certainly comes through in parenting and marriage rather easily. The concept comes through in how kingdom leaders “watch for your souls” because they are position for oversight. The concept certainly comes through with regard to governments that God sets in place to be a terror to them that do evil. The concept has, unfortunately, been used to subvert people to dysfunctional leadership, and the difference between healthy and unhealthy leadership can be complicated.
First, let us make it clear that no human leadership is perfect, and some dysfunction taints everyone’s leadership. However, within the kingdom, the King is always at work in these situations, and a clear voice within kingdom leaders operating in the principles and protocols of the kingdom will resolve most the damages, even turn them toward greater strength and unity. The principles and protocols of the kingdom designed to provide leadership are based upon mutual love and honor. Of course, dysfunctional people often exhibit dysfunctional behaviors because of dysfunctional love and honor.
Second, Leadership provides boundaries, counsel, and discipline that builds personal leadership into life. Not control or subjection. Leadership. Each of the institutions God designed to provide leadership for your life are designed to produce greater personal leadership. None were designed to run your life for you. Lack of personal leadership will result in diminished kingdom leadership: leaders with greater personal leadership will enjoy greater kingdom leadership function; those with little or diminished personal leadership will enjoy little or diminished kingdom leadership. Kingdom leadership flows into your life so kingdom leadership can flow through your life. The greater your personal leadership, the greater flow of kingdom leadership runs through your life. Your personal dysfunction in home, Ecclesia, and culture will directly affect your kingdom leadership.
Third, leadership grows more functional through experience and expertise, and the level at which kingdom leadership “covers” your life depends upon the flow of experienced expertise into your personal leadership. That is why alignment provides increased kingdom leadership: leaders at the international level speaking into leaders at the national and regional levels, so leaders speaking through the local and personal levels have access to the greatest kingdom leadership dynamics!
The first principle of kingdom is love. So, putting our understanding of “covering” to work, let us examine how love matures. Love disciplines so that greater experiences and expertise in love becomes available. Love God with All. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemies. Love disciplines our personal leadership so that we respond to with God’s love in our roles, relationships, and responsibilities. Love and discipline are kingdom principles and protocols.
The second principle of kingdom is honor. So. putting our understanding of “covering” to work, let us examine how honor matures. Honor values others so higher levels of leadership God sends with greater experience and expertise become available. Then, honor releases these experience and expertise at the local and personal levels. In this way, honor places appropriate value upon God’s provisions and protections and makes leadership a part of every citizen’s life.
The end result is personal leadership. Your experience and expertise grows and matures. The entire kingdom is enhanced by this process.
Love, Honor, and Discipline
I had a wonderful discussion recently in which I hammered out an understanding of how love matures through discipline. The question was, “Don’t you think we should cut back on discipline and be more loving?” I immediately said, “No, we need more discipline than ever.” The discussion reveals the fundamental principle and protocol of the kingdom that applies directly to kingdom leadership dynamics. Love disciplines so that people mature enough to receive more love.
The dearth of love can be better understood as a dearth of discipline. Everything God designs makes love and discipline the centerpiece of maturity and growth. Many people cannot receive love because they lack the discipline to experience love at deeper, personal levels. They lack trust. They lack faith. They lack submission.
Note the working parts of love and discipline Hebrews 12 explains and the outcomes for people without them. A root of bitterness from a loss of inheritance, a sprouting and spreading of this bitterness that poisons others, an Esau spirit, comes from and through people with inadequately matured souls who cannot receive love at a personal level. The working parts that produce the opposite, healthy spirit come through leadership:
- the Father and earthly fathers provide discipline, to which we submit, enduring the process in order to experience the end result produced by discipline;
- the process requires submission, and leaders provide strength to those experiencing it so they will continue in it, enduring or sustaining their process until they mature;
- the fruit of right behavior produced by discipline flows to true children, inheritors prepared and positioned to inherit
- the response to discipline is “honor,” as Hebrews 12:5 says we must avoid disposing or belittling discipline
As kingdom leaders, we encounter people abused, poorly discipline, punished, rejected, and immature emotionally and mentally who are citizens of the kingdom. When we begin to carry out our roles, relationships, and responsibilities to these kingdom citizens, we run into an inadequacy within them for love and receiving love. Likewise, we encounter them at some level of deficiency with regard to honor and receiving proper honor. They have been devalued and lack a context of experience through which to properly value our leadership. In order for them to become fully functional kingdom citizens, embrace the principles and protocols of the kingdom, and become true disciples – and this is our assignment – we must provide them with a disciplined process of personal leadership development. Our leadership provides them strength to sustain this process as they submit to it, and our experience and expertise matures their level of love and honor progressively so they can mature enough to receive and release greater love and honor.
Any system or approach to love and honor that ignores this aspect of discipline produces dysfunctional leaders with fatal flaws. The trust issue, the level of obedience and submission people are willing to embrace and sustain measures the pace of their maturity. They can only mature as quickly as they can sustain a discipline process that strengths and matures their ability to love and honor and receive love and honor.
Love and honor operates through choices, and strength of will fundamentally affects their maturity. We love because we choose. We honor by choice. Necessity does not govern love or honor. So the key to greater love and honor is strength of will. Love and honor demand risk, so the enemy of these fundamentals works to limit strength of will. Moving through the institutions God designed, from home to Ecclesia to culture, the greater opportunities for love and honor come from the roles, relationship, and responsibilities available at the more personal level.
Expect that the discipling of cultures will require a transformation of love and honor since culture comes from shared beliefs and values. Love of country can be a strong motivator. Honor can produce great risk-taking behavior. There is love and honor in culture but the influence of love and honor arrive personally from home and Ecclesia.
God gives no one the responsibility to love and honor who lacks the authority to discipline.