>For all of those who have been hurt by spiritual abuses:
I want to turn the concept of spiritual leadership on its head: what we can see accomplished in others through leadership is great, but what is accomplished in our own lives and families makes all else pale in comparison! Personal repentance, Spirit-leading, holiness, discipline, dedication to spiritual health and salvation of self and family, integrity, trustworthiness, all must be demonstrated by a would-be leader in the kingdom. It is the actualization of Christ’s absurd maxim: the first shall be the last and the last first (Mt. 20:16). Paul accounted apostles as clowns, and warned the Corinthians not to set one up above another (1 Cor. 4:6-10).
Spiritual authority is authority with the Spirit of God, not authority over people, through unity with Him. It is submission to others, a heavy weight of responsibility, the burden of lifting others above self (Eph. 4:3). It is like David, who was anointed of God long before he ever became king, but spent years giving Saul into God’s hand and waiting for the respect and anointing of the people. Power is surrendering people to God when we want to restrain them by guilt, manipulation, or force of will, things that formerly were used as justification for fleshly power under the name of God, but wrecked the lives of people who, to this day, ache from the injuries of years and decades past.
Those who are called to spiritual leadership and authority are as the angels of heaven. Apostle and angel come from the same Greek word- messenger. But God created angels, and then He created humans. Humans are the inheritors of salvation, not angels. Humans are called to be children of God, not messengers of God. Every human is called to be a priest in this earth, to minister to every other human being, and though a few would be called to be special ministers, they must first be humans, believers, priests, before assuming such a role, a role that is for building up others, not stepping on them (Eph. 4:11-14). That is why Paul admonishes Timothy that a novice is not to be a leader, but a proven, faithful steward of God’s blessings can be a spiritual leader. That is why Jesus can say that many are called, but few are chosen; merits of ministry will not earn heaven, but meritorious grace toward a fallen man will. Oh that I would stay fallen in my spirit, reminded of my sinfulness, so that Christ will keep me lifted up!
There is a great pain, a bitterness, an iniquity, that has been borne out of abuses of spiritual power in the name of self-promotion. Many backsliders from the faith today are in the gall of bitterness, bound by iniquity, even though they bear the name of Christ in baptism (Acts 8:23). Repentance is still the call of Christ, even for those who have been dreadfully wronged. But repentance is due from any self-centered, ego-driven Christian or preacher who has ever valued response and followership over repentance and transformation of lives. Entire generations are slipping away, and will, if we can’t lead people down in order for them to be risen back up by Jesus.
There is healing for the broken. The time has come in the Spirit for restoration of all of God’s people. I want to be a part of that, and to have the ministry of God in me, toward people, be that of doing good to and for others so others can be all that God wants them to be. To be a steward of the grace of God, not a lord over others.