The following is an excerpt from Dr. John’s book, BIBLICAL HEADSHIP: Making Sense Of Submission To Authority. Follow this link to obtain your copy of BIBLICAL HEADSHIP today.

The apostle Peter directs this whole passage of Scripture toward eldership: 

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:1–3 NASB

That is all encompassing. Elders lead, elders guide, and elders provide for and protect their congregations. Elders are involved in the process of bringing people to maturity in Christ and preparing them for works of ministry. 

This authority was not delegated to deacons or Sunday school teachers or worship leaders. Although every responsible task in the church carries a measure of authority, governmental authority is meant to be established in the eldership. In some churches, government is vested in the pastor and the deacons, or in church boards and committees. You can find no Scriptural precedence for such governmental patterns. Usually, these groups are elected by some church-approved voting method. However, when a deacon board or a congregational board or a committee leads the church, the pastor can only function as a hireling—the hired feeder of the flock. He is much more of an employee on a payroll than a delegated authority. 

A delegated position is not a hired position. It is an appointment. Even if an individual is paid a salary to sustain his or her living, the authority comes from God and should be received by God’s people in just that way. 

“He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Matthew 10:40 NASB)

The attitude we display toward delegated authority reflects our attitude toward Christ. It is important to understand that God takes into account the response we have toward earthly authority. When we are recognizing and responding to authorities, it is as though we are looking directly in the face of God. We should do so with the deference we would show Him. 

The fear of the Lord is not something to be taken lightly. For the most part, people are either motivated by the promise of reward or the fear of punishment. Children demonstrate this more openly than adults do, but the motivation is there nevertheless. It is utter foolishness not to have the fear of God in our hearts. Yet many people become insensitive, either because of their own self-will and stubbornness, or because they have unrenewed minds. Then, insubordinate attitudes manifest. It’s part and parcel of the old nature, Adam’s fall, and the sin that entered the race. 

Don’t expect the governmental order within the church to change. Jesus will not usurp His own order. People want that to happen, but it doesn’t. Throughout history, God has worked through delegated authority. Although people have given him very little to work with, He has kept His promise to build His church (see Matthew 16:18). In spite of the way the order of church rule has been rearranged, Jesus has continued the process. Now He has again raised up an apostolic order in His house. He is going to work through the people He has delegated as authorities in the church. God will not go around the eldership of a church to raise up people in ministry. 

People often go out in ministry without any affirmation by a valid eldership. They do that because they believe they have a gift or that God spoke directly to them. Sometimes they go out because they’ve been given a prophecy, but they have not been raised up through headship. Their ministries are ill-advised, and in most cases they fail to be birthed into their destinies. They usually accomplish some good things for God. Certainly they never escape God’s love. But eventually, if they are to succeed at the highest level of their calling, God must draw them back under proper eldership. And they will come back, if they will yield and be willing to submit to headship at some point. 

If you are seeking to be released into ministry, the wisest course of action is to advance through your headship. That way you can be sent, rather than going out on your own. The biblical directive is to humble yourself to those who have the rule—headship. In due time, God will exalt you. 

But if you contend for a place of leadership, it just won’t open up the way you want it to. 

What you just read is an excerpt from Dr. John’s book, BIBLICAL HEADSHIP: Making Sense Of Submission To Authority. Follow this link to obtain your copy of BIBLICAL HEADSHIP today.

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