Popular discussions of covering, leadership, and ministry models say that God always sets a man in place. Everything in that move of God eventually rises to that set man’s leadership. Is this a Bible model? Does it prove itself successful in real life and history? Or, does the Bible send a representative with a blueprint whose role in leadership provides oversight authority to build what that blueprint reveals of God’s will?
The problem with “set man” ministry is that the ministry is set in the man. Personality-centric ministry rises and falls upon a perception instead of power. Set up the set man and you can gut the entire ministry.
It happens often.
The temptation to feed the momentum of a personality’s popularity overwhelms the good sense of kingdom leadership dynamics. “If it is growing and blowing, keep feeding the momentum. The growth is a revelation of God’s favor.”
No, it is not. It is a revelation of the people’s fickle embrace of perception. The faith that should be in God is a faith in the personality cult.
Church-growthism taught us to assume God wants big and bigger, on the way to biggest. The Bible teaches that God wants mature, more mature, on the approach to ultimate preparation for personal and corporate purpose production.
1. Personality cult ministry minimizes the gifts of others in comparison to the spotlighted gifts of the anointed one. If a person’s gifts cannot be challenged because doing so might diminish the ministry’s “set man,” the ministry is not based upon faith in God but hope in the man. This fact is immediately evident by what happens when the set man gets set up.
The people are no longer assigned or aligned. They leave. They stop giving money. They wander about until they find another set man. The kingdom is no greater in its influence by this pattern. People are in love with spotlighted heroes.
2. The set man is only as good as his latest miracle performed, sermon preached, program championed, and building project funded. If he does not show well, the house of cards falls. One card out of place is all it takes. One hint or burp of scandal and the shaking touches everything.
This fact proves his personality is the basis for the ministry. So does the insurance policy required by the lender that financed the building project. Everyone knows that all it will take to wreck people’s faith and the ministry’s influence is a scandal.
3. The ministry is temporary because the set man has a shelf life of effectiveness. After that, the ministry moves into a memorial. It memorializes the good ole days for a few years, fading out like a spotlight running out of battery power.
The lasting kingdom effect is measured in memories or measurements of misremembered high points. “When we will God send us another set man with this level of anointing?”
Missing the Purpose of Kingdom Leadership Position
In the long run, Paul was as good at leadership as the elders he prepared and positioned to expand what he established. He was excited about Timothy because he had one son who sought the things of Christ instead of the things of himself.
In the eternal sense, Jesus was at good at leadership as the originating apostles He prepared and positioned. Not that Jesus is diminished or increased personally by what happens or does not happen. He is All, in All, and sustains All. I cannot correctly say that He is personally affected by human failure or success except in the narrowest analysis of His life and ministry as it pertains to the continuity of purpose.
The kingdom leadership He designed and defined is just as pertinent today as it was then. That is, He was perfect in His leadership and the preparation and positioning mode He established is the one we must follow to continue what He started.
No move of God can perpetuate in a personality. The success of any move of God cannot be measured in the constant and continuous display of a set man’s operational anointing or leadership voice.
Wesley changed the course of history because he never made the move of God about Wesley. “Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven on Earth.”
(Notice that Wesley thought setting up the kingdom of Heaven on Earth was the goal.)
That revival gave birth to the greatest Awakenings of history, more significant than the Reformation, but celebrated so little because of the exaggerations of sanctification (so perceived by others) he taught.
Wesley was not the set man of the movement. He is known because he was a prolific writer. His marriage was dismal. His leadership style was not particularly spectacular. His personal preaching was carried out more in houses and small venues. He had no social media or television time.
Wesley produced leaders. The leaders did what he did, but they did more. From that simple understanding, we see that the move of God so named for him was not about him. It was about the preparation and positioning of leaders who could expand the momentum when it was available.
Wesley produced leaders who would not quit. We have filled the Earth with quitters. They build what appeals to crowds and call it growth. The accumulation of believers is not the goal of any positioned leader. We do not find successors to our set man leadership – and this is seldom a thriving aspect of set man history – we prepare and position inheritors of the purpose we were assigned to explore and expand.
Our “greatest” are really not so great when we measure them by the metron of kingdom leadership.
Misreading Fathering Leadership
A set man ministry misreads fathering leadership. If we look at Paul and say, “Set man,” we misread fathering leadership. Paul has none of the characteristics of set man leadership. Neither does Simon Peter, James, John, or any other Bible leader recognized as an example of kingdom leadership.
If we look at Jesus and say, “Set Man,” we do err badly in our reading of fathering leadership.
Origination is not a “set man” scenario. Origination without leadership preparation and positioning with oversight and reporting principles, processes, and protocols will not last more than two spiritual generations with each subsequent generation suffering obvious depletions of the originating purpose, power, and principles.
The point I make is that having a strong, historic, evident leader whose name is known and remains attached to the move of God he originates and “set man” leadership models are not the same, but opposite in terms of what they produce.
Again, most set men die without anything left to show but a memorial. Fathers leave an expanded estate producing the original purpose through several inheritors.