The rebel seldom defines their posture as “rebellious.” Few are proud of being rebels. Rebels functions in a delusion warp of personal justification. Rebels offer any authority ultimatums.
A spiritual father should avoid the relational death that comes with ultimatums by anticipating them and heading them off before they arrive. Rebuke the rebellion before it makes the ultimatum.
The step just before the ultimatum is a direct, personal attack upon your character in the form of an insult relating to your intentions or heart toward the rebel. The rebel accuses you of having bad motives in your leadership, being selfish, and not having their best interests in mind.
The rebel accuses you of being “a controlling leader.” They demand to be in control. “Being in control” is the definition of rebellion.
If a father is in control, he is rebelling against the Father. If the inheritor is rebelling against the father, he is rebelling about the Father. That is why the spirit and power of Elijah turns the heart toward the Father to turn the hearts of fathers to inheritors.
(Notice that John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah but didn’t have a conference on fathering as a means of turning the hearts.)
God is the Only Source of Ultimatums
Nothing brings things to the point of judgment decisions like ultimatums. So, only God has the authority to create these showdowns. When He does, the leader should respond with meekness.
When a prodigal calls you to set up a meeting to negotiate, the prodigal is not ready to come home. The prodigal is extending the ultimatum that led to leaving in the first place.
Father never negotiate with prodigals. Rebels always demand negotiation because they demand to be equal in authority with God’s leaders.
I remember sitting in front of the prodigals during meetings. The prodigals who set a meeting to negotiate intend to extend and expand the accusations they have against you. They use them to justify their rebellion in the first place, expand and exalt them during the time they maintain a relationship with strangers, and use them against you when they have not “come to themselves.”
During these meetings, a father will feel God’s heart in the matter.
I have experienced unusual responses to negotiation setups. Sometimes, I feel what the rebel interprets as anger that is a trembling in my hands and body like Moses felt when he fell on his face at the confrontation with Korah.
Sometimes I feel Father’s disgust with rebellion. That is a healthy feeling. Sometimes I feel Father’s sense of disappointment with illegitimate children that leads me to grieve the loss of a kingdom inheritor personally.
What I first feel of Father’s heart becomes a point of reference and response in my own heart. The rebels misinterpret these responses, of course, but rebels arrive with delusional misconceptions of their points of leverage.
Ultimatums Reveal Pride
Since only God offers ultimatums and fathers only provide the Father’s bottom line to inheritors, rebels hope to one-up fathers to justify the rebellion in their hearts.
Fathering leaders who offer ultimatums from their pride reveal the scope of controlling operating within them. Rebels who offer ultimatums from their pride always set the bar at the point that gives them control.
Any father that gives in to an ultimatum turns their leadership over to a rebel. Father in Heaven will bust that father upside the head for that!
Any rebel that accepts Father in Heaven’s ultimatum will stop negotiating and say, “I will be your servant if that is the only way I can get back to where I belong” (back on the kingdom estate they are assigned to inherit).
Ultimatums are warnings, but they require immediate answers. Never put off that response. Arrive at any meeting at which an ultimatum is offered by Father or the rebel with the answer already in hand.
I sat down with a prodigal prepared to take me to court, stacks of papers, and prepared conclusions sitting before us on the table between us. I had my computer sitting beside me. She opened the meeting with her negotiation position, just like Korah did with Moses. She quoted God.
Korah said, “God made us all equally as His people.” She did the same in the inference that she had a right to the justified position of rebellion: “I have the right to do whatever I think God told me to do. I heard God.”
Just like Moses, I repeated what I said during the initial point of rebellion. I told her what she should do, not what she had to do. I even offered to help with her investment in delusion. “Let’s allow God to reveal what He said since you and I have very different messages from Him.”
She pointed to her pile of papers. I pointed to my computer. Then, I said, “I am not going to rehearse previous evidence to which we have already reached very different conclusions. I am not going to negotiate.”
I told her what would happen if she proceeded with her venture into delusion. She was experiencing that outcome but blaming me for it. I knew that she had not “come to herself” with God as yet, so the meeting was the last we would have until or unless God wished to restore her to my leadership.
Offering God’s Ultimatums
Most fathers avoid offering any ultimatums, so they end up receiving ultimatums from rebels. The mercy of fathering leaders is intense. The meekness of fathering leaders is great.
In 90% of the incidents I oversee, the fathering leader was guilty of meekness and mercy, not control. The issue was not that the fathering leader was silent or less involved than he should have been. The problem arose because of a hesitancy upon the fathering leader’s part to offer God’s ultimatum.
It takes little revelation wisdom to see how a rebel’s pathway will lead to loss. Fathers who offer this insight will hear the rebel say that the fathering leader cursed them and caused their failure by curse. They will openly and loudly declare that any insight on the destination toward which their rebellion leads was a shipwrecked caused by the witchcraft of the father who warned them.
(Superstition is part of rebellion because rebellion is witchcraft. When God offers an ultimatum, He operates in righteousness. When a rebel offers an ultimatum, he operates in witchcraft. When a father provides an ultimatum other than one he receives from the Father, he operates in his own sorcery, the misappropriation of kingdom authority and power. Witchcraft is the use of spiritual power to get what I want instead of what God wants.)
So, you can see that the showdown with rebels always comes down to an issue of “who is hearing the voice of God.”
With Korah, Moses fell upon his face because he saw where this rebellion was headed. Then, Moses offered God’s ultimatum. Once that ultimatum was in place, Moses carried out the judgment decision until the camp was cleansed of that rebellion.
All spiritual fathers require accountability to spiritual fathers who are fathers of fathers. The people being fathered cannot serve this role. The issue is always about the Father in Heaven and His purposes for the people being fathered.
Do we have controlling leaders? Yes! Do we have controlling fathers? Only a few, if we are functioning correctly as fathers.
Since the Bible reveals the reality of authentic fathering is intense, painful, and testing in the extreme, all authentic inheritors will face the moment of ultimatum. If any inheritor faces no moment in which he submits to do something he does not want to do, even something he feels is inconsistent with what God has told him, the inheritor is not properly tested as an inheritor.
Hebrews 5 and 12 fathering point to these moments of Fathering ultimatums. Hebrews 12 says fathering leaders should rid the kingdom culture of Esau because they are shoots from a living root system of rebellion. The metaphoric presupposition is that the root of rebellion is what Father is testing with His painful discipline.
The real issue isn’t obedience, and the Bible doesn’t say it is. The real question is submission, and the test is severe. Only those that endure are authentic. The others are Esau in spirit because they have a submission limitation. They have the wrong heart about the inheritance, the same condition that causes prodigal waste.
We identify Esau by the fact that he quits. When he leaves, he justifies quitting, and his justifications trouble many other people in the testing process. Esau is a rebel providing an ultimatum about the discipline. He refuses to complete the process of fathering. He has intentions for his inheritance inconsistent with those of the Father in Heaven and the fathering leaders representing the Father.
Submission limitation is the reason prodigals quit.
They offer the Father ultimatums: “I want my inheritance without this painful process. I will decide when and how I receive the inheritance, and I will decide what I do with inheritance. I am going to get away from this father who tested me because I refused to pass the test.”
The land is overrun with Esau-hearted vagabonds, and this is the reason we must turn the hearts of fathers and inheritors to one another. Father must trust vagabonds again, but fathers cannot do so until rebellious inheritors return with transformed hearts.
No negotiated settlements should be offered because the “turning of the hearts of fathers” means the father puts a ring on the repentant inheritor’s hand.
To be clear: the fathering hearts are turned toward returning sons because the sons do not return with ultimatums in their hearts.