Each of the 7 Churches of the Revelation had a problem or challenge to resolve. Jesus measured each of them by their response to that problem or challenge. Ephesus was commended – “You don’t tolerate evil people; you identify false apostles,” for example; both Pergamum and Thyatira were rebuked for “tolerance,” one for tolerating Balaam and the other, Jezebel. Spiritual tolerance stands in opposition to problem-solving.
Kingdom leaders make decisions and solves problems. We are not responsible for everything and everybody, but we are responsible for our assignments. Within the sphere or scope of our assignment, we have authority and power to make decisions consistent with the strategy and vision of our assignment. We delegate authority and responsibility delegated to us. Those to whom we delegate have authority and responsibility equal to the scope of their assignments. We cannot make decisions and ignore problems if we are to fulfill our assignments. We cannot raise leaders who make decisions and ignore problems.
When someone else makes the decisions, they are leading. This principle is obvious to most leaders. However, it is just as true that whoever is solving problems is the leader. To over-simplify: churches can be led by hell when leaders allow hell to do the problem-solving and decision making. Jesus refers to this as “tolerance.”
Making decisions is fun for many leaders who refuse to clean up messes, even messes made by their decisions. Some send problem-solvers, or hatchmen, to resolve issues as if making decisions is for leaders and solving problems is for lackeys. This is pure politcal spirit arrogance. It says, “I can’t get my hands dirty solving problems. That is beneath me. My time is too valuable making decisions. I don’t do ‘clean up.’ Not my department. That’s why I pay you…” This leadership style stands in opposition to Jesus’ “serving leaders” model. The point of serving is dealing with dirty feet.
Leaders who ignore problem-solving fail to understand that leadership dynamics function inseparably. Leaders can delegate problem-solving, but only those with authority to make decisions and only to the same extent they can make decision. Delegation of authority must flow forward; a leader’s scope of authority and responsibility includes both decision-making and problem-solving. If you have the authority to make decisions, you have the accompanying authority to solve problems. To the extent you have authority to decide, you have responsibility to resolve.
The point is that whoever is solving problems is leading in the same way and to the same extent that whoever is making decision is leading. If you make decisions and step back for someone else to solve problems, you are no longer the leader. The problem-solver is now the leader. It is one thing to work with difficult people to find ways to fulfill the assignment, working in unity and oneness of mind. It the opposite to tolerate a change of assignment or vision to accomodate rebellious, stubborn, immature people in a “go-along-to-get-along’ approach to leadership. Suddenly, the person making decisions and solving problems has no delegated authority.
I have worked in teams where the top-down decision making broke apart as quickly as the edicts were handed down because the leaders responsible to problem-solve saw immediately that the decision wouldn’t work, couldn’t work, at the implementation level. They had authority and responsibility to solve problems, but none to make decisions. I have also worked in teams where edicts were given with no followup consideration for whether it would even work at all, when the leader’s arrogance and pride was so great they thought things shoudl and would “just happen” because they said so. Then, when the outcome didn’t match the vision cast, the blame game began.
This kind of leadership model will end with the figurehead leaders proclaiming stuff like, “We make good decisions but we can’t seem to get anybody who can function at our level of excellence!” Arrogant silliness. Part of your job is to create leaders who can execute at your level of excellence. If you don’t plan to dirty your hands with implementation problem-solving, don’t make strategic decisions at all. Every time you get pregnant with purpose, vision will abort. You will mark the road of leadership with a series of train wrecks. Give the people implementing your assignment the authority to make decisions and solve problems in equal doses, or just try to maintain status quo until God gets a real leader to take your place.
When you tolerate a spiritual problem, it will take on a life of its own. Jesus appoints leaders so He can remain in charge of His Body. When those leaders delegate, they must maintain the assignment, strategy, and purpose of Jesus. If hell cannot keep a kingdom strategy from being communicated, it will work to limit the strategy’s implementation through distraction, persecution, oppression, and confusion. If the leaders don’t problem-solve, hell will become the leader of Jesus’ strategies.
You ask, “Are you sure?” Well, let’s think together one moment. It is Jesus’ Churches He is talking to in the Revelation. He certainly wants the leaders He has delegated to solve the problems! He says, If you don’t solve them as assigned, I’ll come do it Myself. In other words, Jesus has a leadership strategy of delegated authority and responsibility. The Church is imperfect because of this prefect strategy. Yet, the perfect strategy is necessary or there is no kingdom at all. The strategy of the kingdom is delegation to strategic leaders. Jesus intends for us to make decisions and solve problems consistent with His eternal purpose, our ministry assignments, and the strategy of the season in which we live.
Ask yourself how Pergamum and Thyatira became strongholds of Balaam and Jezebel. They are Jesus Churches with appointed leaders preaching kingdom Gospel, yet major spiritual conditions are controlling and influencing the behavior of the Body. Toleration means decision-making without problem-solving: “if we keep preaching the right Gospel, things will turn out alright.” Not if Balaam and Jezebel are now part of the leadership team! Sardis is the Church of appearances and reputation; but it is dead, dead, dead because it tolerated deadness. Sardis ends up hollow plastic-surgery appearance unwilling to solve problems. How? Because the kingdom leaders ignored problems while majoring on making decisions.
Many church leaders are so removed from both decision-making and problem-solving they aren’t even in the game. Much church leadership function is simply amateur hour around the campfire. People who couldn’t lead a Sunday School class are trying to lead kingdom strategies, out of place, out of touch, and out of balance. Jesus assigns leaders who arrive with authority and responsibility to make things happen! The Kingdom Reset produces a reset of leadership sent to right the ship, set the rudder to the assignment, and hold course correction until things get headed in the right direction.