Not long ago, a proven prophet of the Lord said that satan’s attacks were going to come against the second tier of leadership in the church. Without fail, every pastor I know has experienced this to be true at some point in their ministry. However, the outcome does not have to be what it often is. After all, it is an attack, and attacks can be beaten.Years ago I heard a seasoned minister say, “It seems that those that I have spent the most time with are the ones that have turned on me.” That is an odd phenomenon and one that can be avoided because it is fueled by familiarity. If the leaders stay out of familiarity, the door is closed to the devil, end of story.
The offense of familiarity.
It has also been said that people will be offended by one of two things, either with the minister’s humanity or with their spirituality. I have found that an offense in the humanity of a minister leads to an offense in their spirituality. Jesus had this problem in His home town.
(Matthew 13:54–58 ESV) “and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”
While the people were touched by what Jesus said to them, they immediately negated His ministry through their familiarity with Him. They then questioned His authority and where it came from. Through familiarity, offense toward His spirituality set in and they dishonored Him. This is a pattern doomed to repeat itself unless an effort is made otherwise.
Because familiarity is subtle and hard to recognize, it is the number one tool of the devil, particularly with, but not limited to those in leadership. A leader in familiarity would never believe that they were in “unbelief” but that is what Jesus called it. What Jesus said to them, and the anointing on His life, were both limited by the attitude of the people.
Who is the greatest?
Pride and a competitive spirit have no place in the Kingdom of God. Most people will agree that pride is not of God, but few recognize the problems with competitiveness because it is so ingrained in our culture. In natural life, if you are not competitive, you better be happy with minimum wage. But this is not so in the Kingdom.
(Luke 22:24 ESV) “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”
This “dispute” was among the second tier of leadership. Jesus’ own disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest, or, a leader over the others. This happened immediately after an extremely intimate time with Jesus - the Lord’s Supper. They went from worship to competing for position in one moment, and they did this right in front of Jesus. This could only occur because they had become familiar with Jesus.
Jesus answered this mess by instructing them on servant leadership. The Kingdom of God is built by people serving God and one another. The Bible tells us to consider other people better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). I can’t compete with you if I am to consider you better than myself. However, I can serve you on that basis.
The right of determination.
By nature, humans are not used to submission. They also get lifted up very quickly. Out of all the disciples, Peter had a tremendous revelation one day.
(Matthew 16:15–17 ESV) “He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
Jesus told Peter that God had spoken to him and shown him something about Jesus. Did you get that? GOD showed Peter something about Jesus. Since God revealed something to a second tier leader about THE leader, it would be easy to consider yourself equal with that leader. After all, if God is talking to you about your boss, then perhaps the boss should listen more to what you think about what to do. This happened to Peter. He immediately steps into familiarity.
(Matthew 16:21–23 ESV) “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
I guess Peter was feeling pretty confident. So confident, he tried to tell Jesus what to do. The desire to not only determine things for yourself, but to determine things for others, is a product of pride, rebellion and personal ambition. The definition of determination is: the controlling or deciding of something’s outcome. Peter clearly attempted this. Notice, a second tier of leadership is trying to direct the leader.
There is no ambiguity here. Jesus began to show His disciples what was going to happen and Peter decided it should go in another direction. Certainly love for Jesus was part of his motivation in what he said. That’s the great deception. Love is not permission to be familiar.
Jesus knew that Peter had yielded to the devil and He flatly rebuked him. In speaking to the devil, Jesus said, “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” The ways of man hinder the Kingdom. Pride, rebellion, personal ambition, and the desire to determine the outcome are all ways of man that hinder the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom is not a democracy.
We Americans are used to determining everything in life. However, the Kingdom of God is not a democracy.
In a democracy, the whole population, by way of majority, determines the outcome of things - even what is right and wrong. The Kingdom of God is a Theocracy and there is no popular vote. Honestly, I think this bugs more people in the Christian faith than we can imagine. America was founded as a “republic” and it has been democracy that has ruined this country. A republic governs according to an established document and judgements are made in light of that document. Elected officials are to uphold that document. We have a document, but these days they just change the laws if they don’t like what’s in the document.
A fallen human being doesn’t like to be controlled by a standard other than self. That pioneering, self determining spirit makes very carnal Christians that resist following spiritual authority. When questioned as to why he did not minister on certain Biblical subjects, the pastor of the largest church in America said on national TV, “I just want to make people happy.” In other words, the majority rules! That is democratic, not theocratic. But, it does not take long to figure out that if you give people what they want, then they will be happy.
Those in the second tier.
Every human will be tempted, perhaps regularly, to fall into familiarity. The way to avoid being taken by it is to have a plan to stay out of it. The “default” mode for humans is to go into familiarity. People do not automatically stay out of familiarity.
How do you stay out of it? First, check yourself concerning your attitude and actions. Repent, if necessary. Ask for God’s help in getting out and staying out. Make yourself humble and teachable. Adopt an attitude of gratefulness about what you DO have. Resist thoughts, and comments from other people that would make you critical. The devil is a slanderer, accuser, and a gossip.
The church will rise and fall on the second tier of leadership.