Continued from last week’s blog post: Love Series: Mentorship over Envy 1
PATTERNS OF LEADERS FOUND IN THE BIBLE
I preface this whole next section by saying I’m not personally picking on leaders. The leaders I’ve had in my personal history have been a mixture of both good and bad, but mostly good. I only refer to certain types of leaders we may encounter in our lives, due to the types, patterns and paradigms of leaders I’ve seen in the Bible.
BIBLE STUDY TOOL: BIBLE CHARACTERS SERVE AS TYPES, PATTERNS AND PARADIGMS
I honestly see this Biblical principle as one of the most important in Bible study. If you can understand this principle and apply it, you’ll see more how the prophetic revelation of the Bible applies to us today. God also included godly examples in the Bible, so we can pattern our lives after them.
For example, the prophet Daniel lived and worked in a Babylonian system. Likewise, we all live in a Babylonian system to one degree or another, which will grow more obvious as time goes on. Though Daniel existed as a real person, he still serves as a type or pattern of a godly person living in an evil pagan society. God would encourage us to study and to follow his example.
Achan in Joshua 7 serves as another example of a type or pattern, this time of a man whose hidden sin destroys his family and weakens and brings trouble to his community. God would encourage us to study and avoid his example.
The Bible clearly states how God intended these Bible characters to be models for us to learn from. They also serve as prototypes of different kinds of people we’ll encounter throughout our lives. Where did I get this Biblical principle?
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. If you really want to get this principle, please read the whole passage. The Apostle Paul writes down various things that happened in the history of Israel. Here he gives negative examples, but the same Biblical principle can apply to positive, godly examples.
Paul uses the same Greek word for “example” in both verses 6 and 11: Strong’s # G5179, tupos or typos.
Now these things occurred as EXAMPLES to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. –1 Corinthians 10:6 (CAPS mine)
These things happened to them as EXAMPLES and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. –1 Corinthians 10:11 (CAPS mine)
Definitions of tupos or typos: pattern, model, example, type, a visual form to be copied, such as in crafting an idol; by extension: a pattern of behavior to be emulated https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/typos
When I looked at the usage and word study for G5179, tupos or typos, I also found “a type prefiguring something or somebody” and “the correct paradigm, based on reliable precedent for others to… follow.” https://biblehub.com/greek/5179.htm
So, when I share how envy kills from the Bible, I base that premise on how various Biblical characters acting out of envy actually tried to kill the person who threatened them. (Once again, we can try to “kill” and “get rid of people” in various ways that don’t resort to physical death.) Those Bible characters serve as a precedent or preceding pattern of human behavior in the Earth. In other words, there will be people who act out in these ways, when put in similar situations, motivated by similar things. God clearly reveals this dynamic through the 1 Corinthians 10 passage. Plus, the Bible tells us explicitly how when we, as fallen human beings, want something another person has, we’ll kill and covet to get it. (James 4:1-2)
PORTRAIT OF AN ENVIOUS LEADER IN THE MAKING
King Saul, before God appointed him king, was small in his own eyes. From his perception, he came from an insignificant tribe and family. Since he was physically head and shoulders taller than the rest of the Israelites, they saw him as a fitting image of their first king, when he was first presented. If given a vote, the people would’ve chose him. Of course, they based this choice not on Saul’s character, but on his outward appearance. God transformed King Saul in a matter of a day. When the Spirit came on him, he began to prophesy and immediately “became another person.” You can say in today’s language, people laid hands on him and he was anointed to be their leader. But, King Saul serves as a pattern of a leader who has not been trained or tested for leadership.
Since he was chosen by the favor of the people, he had to maintain that favor at all costs. At one point, under an imminent threat from the Philistines, the people began to scatter from him. The prophet Samuel had not come yet to give a sacrifice to God, presumably needed to call forth a divine blessing on their battle. Instead of having the people scatter, Saul did what he shouldn’t have: he gave the sacrifice. At this point, Saul serves as a pattern of a leader who fears man more than he fears God and who’s willing to disobey God to keep the favor of man. (You see, the Bible includes many patterns of behavior that can be seen even through the lens of one person’s life.) [Read the account in 1 Samuel 13:1-13]
SAUL’S RIVAL SLOWLY COMES ON THE SCENE
Even though Saul had only reigned two years, his destiny turned at this point. Samuel shares how another leader will take his place in verses 13 and 14.
And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” (Bold mine)
Later, God gives Saul the task of killing the Amalekites and dedicating all of what they had to God as a sacrifice. Saul disobeys by keeping the best of what they had of the animals and sparing the life of the king. Yet, again, Saul proves less than what God had wanted for the “King of Israel.” Saul gave his excuses and tried to plead forgiveness for his disobedience. But, it was too late.
As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.” –1 Samuel 15:27-29 (Bold mine)
You can see in the passage above the circumstances that led to Saul’s murderous envy. He had the threat of somebody replacing him. Also, Samuel prophesied that this person would be better than Saul.
As time went on, the prophetic word manifested. David kills Goliath and begins to serve in Saul’s army. Wherever he goes, whatever he puts his hand to, David behaves himself wisely and wins victory after victory. At first, David’s success probably didn’t bother Saul, since David only helped Saul’s kingdom become more powerful and prosperous.
But, the one thing that “broke the camel’s back,” so to speak, was the simple refrain to one song.
When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”
Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?”And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David. –1 Samuel 18:6-9 (Bold mine)
As a result, of this jealousy and envy, Saul tries to sabotage David in various ways. He tries to put David in a situation where the Philistines would kill him. When Saul’s less obvious efforts fail to work, he starts hunting down David himself.
SAUL’S ENVY WENT FROM A SIMMER TO A BOIL
In last week’s blog post, we discovered that the root word for “envy” is like unto causing water to boil. In this particular situation, Saul’s envy went from a simmer to a boil, exploding in murderous rage.
David was more gifted, favored and anointed than Saul. God chose him to be king in Saul’s place. Under those circumstances, envy consumed Saul’s heart.
Can we all agree that envy is not rational and, therefore, can seem to be beyond our control? We need the cross of Christ to kill envy at its roots!
When envy can grab a hold of us in this way, what shall we do then, especially as leaders?
PROFESSOR X IS MY FAVORITE SUPERHERO
I’m not crazy about the massive explosion of superhero movies. It seems as though everyone can be a superhero these days, a reflection of our egalitarian society that wants to make everyone equal. You, too, can be bitten by a radioactive spider, fall into a vat of green sludge or be zapped by an alien and… of course, become a superhero in your own right.
One message I do resonate with, however, can be found in the X-Men movies. Gifted people need mentors to learn how to operate in their gifts and become the people they need to be for the highest good of both themselves and humanity. This theme can best be seen in how Professor X mentors the X-Men under his leadership.
[IMPORTANT NOTE: I qualify this statement by saying I only refer to and endorse Professor X’s positive examples of mentorship. The X-Men movies have so many other messages that I don’t agree with and endorse. I also read that towards the later movies made, regardless of where they fit in the timeline, Professor X turns into a darker figure. How very sad. What?! Our society can’t have one positive example of mentorship given in a clean way for the benefit of the people served. Unfortunately, our fallen world tends to want to corrupt people and things for dramatic purposes. All that to say, I’m only taking a snapshot of Professor X as a positive mentor!]
Professor Charles Xavier (or Professor X) runs a school for gifted youngsters by dappears to beay and is the leader of the X-Men by night. Though he has incredible telepathic abilities, his greatest superpower just may be his ability to mentor other gifted people. He helps them to harness and refine their gifts in the best possible way. He gives them the perspective to understand themselves and their value in a world that sees them as not only weird, but dangerous. Without Professor X, these “gifted youngsters” would be more destructive than helpful to mankind.
WHERE ARE THE SPIRITUAL FATHERS AND MOTHERS
Professor X’s school for the gifted parallels our desperate need in both the Church and the world today to mentor people in their gifts, instead of giving into jealousy and envy. We need more people like him helping others to become all they were created to be. He’s my favorite superhero for that reason!
In a similar way, my friend got the help she needed to understand both herself and her gifts. For a long time, she didn’t tell anybody what God was showing her and doing in her life. Others would see her as strange, so she didn’t even risk it. At times, she felt crazy for knowing what she knew and hearing God’s voice so clearly about people’s lives and various situations. The pastors who helped her could’ve thought, Forget it, it’s too much trouble. What if she makes another mistake, she calls us out on stuff, people don’t get what she’s about, etc., etc. (Keep in mind, she didn’t make a “mistake” in accurately receiving revelation from God, only in how she delivered it.)
Well, you know what, because of their help, she’s well-adjusted today: she defers to the leadership over her, she’s helped groups of people all over the world, she’s developed her gifts even further and she mentors others in similar areas. I’d call that a win-win situation for both her and the Body of Christ! Thank God her leaders were sensitive enough to honor God, get involved in her life and to offer what she needed. When things were tough, they took the time and trouble to work with her. Mentorship involves getting your hands dirty, especially when it comes to people that come not only with challenging gifts, but challenging personalities, characteristics and backgrounds. Think Wolverine. Think countless others not as extreme as comic book characters, but also have challenging personalities and characteristics.
Here’s a list of gifted characteristics in the youth, some of which can be potentially off-putting to teachers and leaders. Many of these same traits carry over into gifted adulthood. https://www.us.mensa.org/learn/gifted-youth/insights-into-gifted-youth/gifted-characteristics/
THE PRIMARY GOAL OF CHURCH LEADERSHIP IS MENTORSHIP
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; –Ephesians 4:11-13 (Bold mine)
God specifically put leaders into the church body to equip the saints. This Greek word (G2677) for equip only occurs in this passage. It means to completely furnish and to perfect. This word comes from another Greek word (G2675) with the following meanings:
- to render, i.e. to fit, sound, complete
- to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair
- to fit out, equip, put in order, arrange, adjust
- ethically: to strengthen, perfect, complete, make one what he ought to be. http://blueletterbible.org
All those definitions kind of sound like mentorship and spiritual parenting to me. God placed leaders in the church to make others what they ought to be in Christ. Sometimes, it’s a journey of a thousand miles to walk with someone through their issues and hurts. We must depend on God to have the patience to work through and contend for their healing. This faithfulness and perseverance apply especially to the gifted, who being highly sensitive, can carry deep wounds of rejection. Thus, leaders help mend and repair what has been broken. Through life’s circumstances and broken interactions with people, certain behaviors and ways of relating can get out of whack in a person’s life. God works through leaders to help rearrange how people live their lives to put things back into order.
Conversely, we can’t help each other be all that we can be if we envy one another. More accurately, we won’t help each other.
BAD SHEPHERDS SCATTER THE FLOCK
We have it backwards in this day and age. When apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers care more about their image and ministries more than the people under their care, they aren’t fulfilling the mandate of equipping the saints. Just like Saul with David and the religious leaders with Jesus, when a person’s position becomes all-important, he or she will protect it “tooth and nail,” especially from those who have the potential to replace him or her.
Even people with outstanding gifts need the help of a shepherd. Without one, they tend to wander aimlessly without being fitly joined to the body of Christ.
God describes the characteristics of the bad shepherd who lets the sheep scatter in Ezekiel 34:1-6:
- They eat the fat and clothe themselves with the wool.
- They slaughter the fatlings (the young who have been readied for slaughter).
- They don’t strengthen the weak.
- They don’t heal the sick nor bind up the broken.
- They don’t bring back whas was driven away nor search for the lost.
- The left the sheep to be scattered, to wander through hills and mountains and to become prey for wild animals.
God exposes these shepherds as ones who feed on the flock. Instead of feeding the flock and giving them what they need to grow to maturity (a.k.a equipping the saints), these shepherds feed on the flock and use the people and their gifts to benefit themselves. This passage tells me you can be part of a church or a ministry and still feel weak, sick, broken, lost and scattered. As the day approaches and darkness increases, we need to be careful who we allow to have leadership over our lives.
Can it be said that true ministry, mentorship and shepherding has taken place, if people are left in this condition?
A GOOD SHEPHERD WHO LACKS ENVY CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE
In contrast to the bad shepherds, Professor X searched the world for the gifted in hiding. He went after those feeling out of place, misunderstood, scared and alienated. He invited them into a fellowship and a home. He got involved in their lives. He actively taught and trained them how to use their gifts. When the past rejection, exploitation and alienation came to haunt them and they ran away, he went after them again. He sought to understand them and help them work through their issues, so they could experience peace and wholeness. After Professor X found these lost gifted ones, they no longer felt aimless and scattered, but were given a special purpose and destiny, where they could fully utilize their gifts. I know this is only comic book fiction, but how powerful!
Why should mentorship and spiritual parenting be any less dramatically powerful for the Church?
Here’s a video of Professor X’s school for the gifted and why it’s so important. Wolverine meets Professor X.
In this way, Professor X is like Jesus, who seeks us out and desires to mend us and equip us to become all He created us to be. He chooses to work through leaders who have his heart and vision for the Body of Christ. The leaders who don’t operate with His heart will someday be removed. We need to have holy fear surrounding these statements about leaders. I don’t want to write them flippantly and they are fully Biblical. Like David, we need to be shepherds and leaders after God’s own heart!
WE ARE ALL LEADERS IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER
This message for leaders applies to all of us. No matter who we are or where we’re at in our journey, whether we hold a position in the church organization chart or not, we will always be further along than someone else. Whether you realize it or not, people may look to you as a leader and follow your example and influence.
Also, it doesn’t matter how much experience we have or how gifted we may be in our particular area of expertise, there will always be someone who has the potential to be more talented and anointed than we are. It can happen in any area: speaking, intercession, moving in the prophetic, leading worship, leading teams, teaching Bible studies, etc.
What will we do when we encounter these gifted ones? Will we give into our insecurity and try to block their opportunities or hold them back somehow? Will we seek to sabotage them or talk badly about them behind their backs? Will we grudgingly do the “right thing,” but secretly resent them and hope they’ll fail in some way?
OR will we trust God and help them become everything they can be and rejoice when they do well? Will we receive them and give them the praise and promotion they deserve? If we’re in leadership, will we nurture and develop both their personhood and their gifts and give them opportunities to shine even more, especially when they’re capable of outshining us?
The Spirit of Elijah in the End Times will release true spiritual fathers and mothers all over the Earth to nurture, raise up, and promote the younger generation. A heart of envy will likely war against this spiritual revolution to keep people down instead of pushing them forward into the fullness of God.
Let’s continually let our ceiling be another person’s floor, and, thereby, fulfill God’s mission for us in these dark days, ever building up the Body of Christ.
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.” –Malachi 4:5-6
ANOTHER BLOG POST ABOUT HOW TO COMBAT ENVY IS ON ITS WAY
I planned to make this post more general, but as I wrote it I felt inspired to focus more specifically on how leaders who don’t envy can mentor and build up the Body of Christ.
REFLECTION AND APPLICATION QUESTIONS
- The goal of spiritual leadership is to equip the saints for the work of ministry, not to grow their own platform. As you look around your church or ministry, are the leaders training, equipping and raising up the saints? Why or why not? If so, how? If not, then what makes you think so?
- Pray for the leaders in your Church and Christian organization to get the revelation of spiritual parenting. 1 Corinthians 4:15– “For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. This kind of mentorship is different from being a great Bible teacher and giving a challenging sermon on Sundays. It means getting involved in people’s lives, helping them to walk through things and empowering them to become more of who they’re meant to be.
- Do you recognize yourself in any of Saul’s journey? If so, what can you do to stop the progression of envy in your life? Like mentioned in an earlier post, envy is a fatal disease that needs to be dealt with ruthlessly. As a leader and one who influences, would you be willing to pray for and help the person or people you envy to become their best and highest? Whether you believe it or not, they need you. They need what you have to offer.
- We talked about how we can be in a church that seems to function and be healthy, but the people still felt weak, sick, broken, lost and scattered. The Bible tells us this dynamic occurs when the shepherds don’t feed the sheep, but actually use the sheep for their own benefit. Have you ever been in this situation? Maybe, you “fell through the cracks” and didn’t get the help you needed. Reflect on how the Church or ministry could’ve done better to meet your needs. Reflect also on ways you could’ve helped the process along by getting more involved and expressing your needs. Pray for and forgive those leaders who may have hurt you. This could be a long process, so be patient with yourself and continue to work through any bitterness and unforgiveness, as needed.
- In your words, describe what it means to be a good shepherd and what it means to be a bad shepherd. There are many passages that describe each. Do a Bible study on the difference between the two. In your study, also reflect on the passages in Ephesians 4 about equipping the saints and Ezekiel 34 on the bad shepherds God had to rebuke.
- Do you believe that the gifted also need shepherding? Why or why not? Some people may think they can make it on their own, but why is this an inaccurate assumption? Reflect on the ways my gifted friend was helped by caring spiritual leaders. What might her life have been like if she didn’t have the help of these mentors?
- No matter how gifted, intelligent and capable somebody appears to be, we are all just sheep, who need a shepherd. Of course, we need Jesus, but we also need the shepherds He’s gifted to take care of the flock. Do a study on shepherds and sheep throughout the Bible. Study the subject of sheep and how they need constant guidance, nurture, help and monitoring. One of the best books I’ve read on the subject is A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller.
- Pray and seek out the right mentors for your life. God knows who these people are.
- Be a mentor for someone else. Be the kind of mentor you had or wish you had. Be the kind of mentor God wants you to be. Take the time, effort and trouble for somebody else, so they can grow up into wholeness and fullness in Christ and be all they were created to be.