In the Old Testament, King Saul epitomised the system and rule that failed woefully, and its adoption in our time is still failing. It was bound to fail. Why? It originated from God’s people’s desire to pursue their own purpose and mission and not God’s perfect will to be King over them 1 Samuel 8:1-10, 11-17, 18-22, 2 Corinthians 11:20.
Within God’s “acceptable will”, Saul became King over God’s people. But, God is always progressing His people towards His ultimate plan for them so, in time, the root of Jesse — David, became King according to God’s “good will”. However, David’s Kingship was a run-up to God’s “perfect will” in the Person of His Son — Christ Jesus, the true and final King of the Church (God’s people).
1 Chronicle 12, chronicled the events of David’s crowning which is a pointer to the events that will also precede the crowning of Christ as King in the Church. Hence, since the birth of the Church, from the four corners of the earth, God’s army (Often nicknamed disgruntled fellows) have been coming out of the twelve tribes of “Israel” to crown Christ as Lord of lords and King of kings. The era of types/shadows or “acceptable and good will” of God has to give way for His “perfect will” to fill all in all Ephesians 1:22-23.
The root of Jesse, the true King and a High priest forever after the order of Melchizedek has taken centre stage. All previous kingship, high priests, system and law are obsolete and no scheme of man can keep them going Hebrews 7. The functioning of the evangelists, apostles, prophets, teachers, shepherds and every other spiritual gifts is meant to invite the unsaved to seek salvation in Jesus Christ and to focus the church to walk with Christ as her leader, head and King in all things through faith. These gifts are for the fulfilment of God’s “perfect will” and not to reinstate and sustain “type and shadows” that has passed away like Moses’s glory 1 Timothy 4:16.
Now, more than ever before, God’s army is eager to grow in the stature of her true King, not through mixed reign but His alone via the law of the Spirit of life. Hence, “trendy Christianity” can no longer stop them from knowing that picking up the cross daily is imperative Philippians 3:18. The narrow way of the cross is the only way to be glorified with Christ Romans 8:16-17.
What does it mean for us to pick up the cross daily? Based on what we have heard, seen and touched in accordance with the Bible and the Spirit’s witness, it means to daily crown Christ as King over our lives by the leading of the Holy Spirit Romans 8:14 . The Holy Spirit prompts, helps and comforts us individually and collectively to hold on to the cross in our pilgrimage Luke 9:23. He accomplishes this in and with us through:
Light as well as darkness
Momentary afflictions and victories
The Holy Spirit is at work in you and me as God’s temple and when we gather together because the all-wise God seeks a mighty army not a feeble one. He will have the Church be as the seasoned troop of Zebulun and full of understanding as Issachar with singleness of purpose.
That the Church as His Son’s bride may be tested, faithful, truly loving Him and committed under every situation. In this way, all things work together for the good of the Church Romans 8:28. Despite all oppositions, the church’s experience of growth in Christ will keep her overwhelmingly joyful Philippians 4:4, Romans 12:12. There’s nothing that compares to it. It’s mentally, physically and spiritually refreshing 1 Timothy 4:8. It’s a priceless lifestyle!
With respect to this Church Christ is building, tried and true, the gates of hell can’t stop her from crowning Him as her King and has no chance of victory over her Matthew 16:18, Hebrews 12:27. Herein is our boasting — that we know the Lord (we’re a part of His one body) and a living sacrifice. As a living sacrifice, we’re thankful and appreciative of Christ’s love, mercy and grace in and through us 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. The sovereign authority of Christ in and amongst those His blood has purchased unto God is unstoppable.
As the coming of Christ Jesus, the final King of the Church draws nearer, necessity is laid upon all of us who have put Him on (born again Galatians 3:27) to crown Him King (put on Christ) over our daily lives Romans 13:11, 12, 13-14. It’s for this purpose the church is now under tremendous pressure on every side to act with understanding as the five wise virgins Matthew 25:4. The Lord is coming in the midst of the night and the Church will be ready to meet Him with shouts of rejoicing.
Without a shadow of doubt, God has given all who are in Christ a gift with which to serve the church 1 Corinthians 12:7. I believe Brother Diotrephes had a gift of an apostle but in failing to recognize his gifting, maybe for reasons similar to the one of our day, he opted to act as the pastor (senior or junior I am not sure) of the assembly of God’s people. Diotrephes in creating and occupying a false position of authority became short sighted.
As it is with all shortsightedness, recognition of God’s authority (grace or treasure) in others cannot be perceived 2 Corinthians 4:7. So, Diotrephes LOVED TO HAVE “The Preeminence”,—to be “The First” or “The Leader”.
Therefore, he couldn’t imagine how God could bypass him to speak to John about a church plant he was “leading”. Assuming himself as both servant and leader (servant-leader), he unwisely rejected God’s word through John the apostle 3 John 1:9 NLT.
Diotrephes was competing with Christ about who should have the preeminence or lead the sheep Colossians 1:18.
What happened to Diotrephes was unfortunate. He loved to lead, oversee or be an elder in the church which is a good thing but failed to understand “lead, oversee or be an elder” to mean to “serve” the church 1 Timothy 3:1NLT. Coupled with the lack of discerning of his gifting, he placed himself in a position of challenging God by resisting and stopping others from receiving Christ’s words to the church.
For clarity, the authority of the servants of the Church is the grace of God in them. To understand this more, the scriptures prescribe that after a brother or sister refuses to listen to two or three believers’ advice in a conflict, the matter is to be brought to the church to execise the authority of excommunication. Excommunication is one of the church’s greatest powers against a believer. So the highest authority (grace) lies with the church—not a handful of elders who more often than not are under the “influence” of their “Senior Pastor or Elder” Matthew 18:15-17.
Rightly, man’s word must not be taken as God’s. God’s words are objective and imperative while man’s, are subjective though they can be useful.
While Diotrephes was suppose to be on the move according to his gifting with its accompanying grace (authority, right or power) to the measure of his faith, he was busy knowingly or unknowingly blocking those with the gift of shepherding in the assembly. He was fighting against the Apostolic Spirit of Christ coming through John to serve (bless) the church though John did not necessarily gather with them regularly.
By the way, every Christian must—not should, have a gathering or Assembly of God’s people they regularly meet with and are held accountable to as per the profession of the faith.
Those who led and reigned in the Roman religion were empowered by the spirit of Jupiter—a merciless spirit of preeminence. This spirit constantly hung around the churches of God—with intent to seek out those who abandon their gift or calling in God and tries to establish its stronghold on them. Given the Jewish long association with the Romans, Diotrephes became a victim.He quickly learnt their leadership style. In not giving his mind to that of Christ, he started practicing what he had seen from the Roman religious leaders. His name Diotrephes (empowered by Jupiter) became his practice.
Hopefully, that beloved brother came to his spiritual senses at some point.
In our day, many gifted as apostles opt for the “pastor thing” and are battling with the spirit of preeminence like Diotrephes.
In acting as protectors of God’s people, they stifle the words of God to the churches. Even if John the apostle were to come today with God’s word, they will advise him to go plant his own church. As a result of this evil attitude, the body of Christ is suffering in many ways she ought not to.
We need to keep praying that all the Diotrephes’ of our day will hopefully one day recover from the spirit of preeminence by repenting and accepting God’s actual gift to them. In so doing, the gospel will not only spread but they will be serving not just joyfully but also, travailing that Christ may be formed in many of God’s people everywhere God will take them Galatians 4:19.
The trumpet from heaven is blowing a clear sound to all the assemblies of God’s people, “build up the body of Christ,until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” Ephesians 4:12-13.
The least of us should be a matured man in Christ. What took new believers in time past many years to comprehend and walk in, should now take much less for new believers because the word of God is filling the earth presently like water covers the sea. A quick work of the Holy Spirit is on and it will be cut short in righteousness.
The gospel is reaching the ends of the earth and Christ’s coming (our salvation) is nearer now than when it was first believed. Even creation is also eagerly waiting. Come, Lord Jesus!
In the first post on mentor and protégé, I identified that, when we seek to advance our entire life (spiritual and temporal) we come face to face with our creator—Christ Jesus. As said also in the previous post, it will be the reverse of wisdom to become a man’s protégé or disciple rather than Christ’s.
Importance of the Church
God who is Omniscient has placed His gifts we need to fulfill our destiny in His Body. He is the Alpha and Omega! He pilots us through His ways to prevent our fleshly ambitions dressed up in spiritual facade from leading us to destruction—that is, away from destiny.
Like He often instructed Israel not to adopt the styles, models, aspirations and goals of the other nations, so does the Holy Spirit instruct us individually and as the Church today.
Therefore, if we plant our feet in the shadow of His wings in His household (gathering together of believers) we will certainly drink from His stream of rejoicing (Psalms 36:7-8). Given, that the functioning of the gifts (not mentors) He has set in His household will constantly calibrate us to His ways that places the temporal (marriage, children, degrees, cars, houses, popularity, writing books, own businesses etc.) at our disposal without jeopardizing our destiny.
In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul tells Timothy, “Take hold of eternal life to which you were called”—That is destiny! All who are in Christ are already in their destiny. The works Christ does through us is the fight of faith or the following of God’s ways that ensures we stay on course of our destiny. But, the devil is standing by to readily fool us that our ambitions are the same as our destiny. Our lack of understanding of the difference between destiny and ambitions is evident when we say, (so and so Christian’s life was cut short of achieving their destiny e.g. Stephen in Acts 7:59).
A Christian’s destiny can’t be cut short by those who can kill only the body and not able to touch the soul Matthew 10:28. At best, they have only hastened the Christian’s destiny. In Philippians 1:23, Paul says, going to Christ is better. But, if it is to stay, it’s for serving the saints for their progress and joy in the faith (verse 24-25). In verse 26, the saints can see Paul’s lifestyle and be encouraged. What lifestyle was to be seen in Paul? Verse 27, A life worthy of the gospel of Christ to be constant in them not playing eye service for Paul to promote them. But for them to be bond by one spirit and having one mind (the spirit and mind of Christ) to the work of His gospel and verse 28, as they oppose the enemies of the gospel and not fight themselves. This standing fearlessly together in the gospel against the emenies is a sign for their destruction but, salvation for the saints. This is God’s kind of salvation in the saints, it is evidenced by boldness in the gospel not compromise.
God alone holds our destiny and it is eternal.
The temporal things we want are our ambitions which are dispensable and must remain secondary—including seeking to establish grand godly things for which we will be remembered and counted among God’s generals which does not exist except in our little competitive minds. The pressure of seeking to institute grand things, whether we admit it or not is a huge part of the reason we’ve adopted secular model of mentor and protégé. We simply need to repent and trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truths and blessings.
But, if we insist on mixing our theologies with management courses rooted in ESP, unity of the faith in the bond of peace will remain a mirage though, union will blossom—blossoming to hell except we repent turning again to Christ (the faith) and to Him alone who is the Mentor of the Church.
As the church wakes up to the Truth—to Christ, the following results will be inevitable:
* Many of God’s people will have a healthy desire to be intimate with God and serve others; not full of ambition to be servant-leaders (a cunning word) not found in the bible Romans 8:14. A servant is not a leader, teacher, a guide or mentor and a mentor is not a servant but a leader, guide, teacher or master.
To systematically hype up an individual in the gathering of the church because he or she is giving false allegiance behind closed doors to gurus in Christendom is a shame. Yes they will climb in servant-leadership but, let’s hear this: the tactics by which man has elevated you will be the same way by which man will easily destroy you if the union goes pear shaped. So, to prevent this demise, you have to keep the false allegiance to man going. Under this condition, Christ can speak to you the much He like; you’ll not obey Him at the expense of your elevated position in man’s sight. Saleh!
To the Body of Christ (those in Christ and Christ in them) hear this: Jesus clearly said He alone is the Master—that is, Lord and the teacher or Mentor John 13:13-17. Note also in Matthew 10:25—He depicts all his disciples as students and servants, not teachers and masters. Not servant-leaders. Servant-leader is a sanctimonious rebranding of the word “clergy” whom God’s people have come to recognize does not exist among those in Christ by understanding 1 Peter 2:9.
Are you led by the spirit of Christ or your “servant-leaders”? Be honest with yourself for it is your own life and destiny being examined here.
* With the servant-leadership crap scrapped, the inevitable importance of the Church on earth will once again come to our forefront. Then, many that are driven by the “leadership rat race” and those giving false allegiance at the expense of their consciences in order to be recognized and promoted to leadership will leave the body of Christ alone. They will go to pursue their leadership thing in the circular workplace or in politics. Or, they’ll repent which is our earnest prayer for our brothers and sisters taken in by the spirit of pre-eminence or leadership.
It is J.R. Woodward who said, “The problem is that when we enter the rat race, we often become rats in the process. Will we fear God and learn from this wise word?
The Church in helping us understand the difference between destiny and ambition will help make us…
*Take God’s word seriously and searching it constantly for the right reasons
*Go consistently to the throne of mercy and grace to obtain grace for the right reasons
*Appreciate the fellowship of believers increasingly for the right reasons
*Submit to one another for the right reason (out of reverence for God)
The benefits will not be theoretical—actual growth in Christ will happen and evidenced by strong unity in the Faith in the bond of peace not union of faiths which is just mutual beneficial friendship and fake peace.
For everyone to believe what they like and practice what they like works against God’s redemptive purpose. It creates religious harmony but not unity of the faith for which Christ specifically gave five dimensions of himself as a gift to some parts in His body Ephesians 4:11.
Every time the church loses sight of the importance of the unity of the faith, we become loud mouthed about how much we have increased in goods and or, the number of people trailing behind us as our own followership. Little wonder we adopt any model available to succeed in our ambitions. This is why we’ve incorporated mentor and protégé approach against what we see clearly in the scriptures.
By the way, the scripture never uses the word growth to describe the church when God joins people to her. The word always used is added. Growth is used to describe the church’s increase in the stature of Christ (loving one another, honoring one another, holy inside and outside the cup, preaching His gospel, perseverance, patience, long suffering, faith, forgiving, praying, no laziness—for short, obedience to the faith Acts 6:7.
But, in lusting to be “successful and recognized”, unavoidably we have muddled up things.
Give thought to Jesus the Mentor—He is the destiny to be taken hold of and to never let go! Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need Matthew 6:33NLT.
Paul’s exhortation to the church addressed to Timothy does not pass for our modern exclusive leadership training. Actually, leadership training does not exist in the bible.
The phrase in Paul’s speech in 2 Tim 2:2, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses”, indicates that the instruction was an open one. Some people have different understanding of the verse. However, no matter how we choose to comprehend it, it wouldn’t negate the truth that the exhortation was to the church and not those handpicked for leadership.
Jesus never took the apostles or his disciples aside to teach them how to lead others but how to serve Mark 9:35. He never taught them the psychology of humans since He never intended to relinquish leading or shepherding the people to His apostles or disciples. He always taught them God’s heart; His will for all men to be saved (not Calvinism) —and served. He showed them the general doctrine to be taught to all who truly know Him. Those whose hearts truly know Christ will pick it and follow on with God Hosea 6:3, 10:12, Jer 4:3.
The end part of Paul’s statement in verse 2 of 2 Tim 2, “entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” highlights what should be seen in those to pass on this “open knowledge” not “secret knowledge”. The key dispositions of the people are these;
*A life of faithfulness to God not to Paul
*Willingness to continue to learn ways to be more loving, obedient to Christ and joyfully serving others through the gospel.
This kind of faithfulness was Paul’s emphasis. In other words, not to selfish folks, but Christians (those who are selfless and eager to pass same knowledge they have freely received to others without demanding payment and or allegiance to themselves but to Christ). This is different from the mentor and protégé practice in the circular and religious systems.
In the gathering of the Church, to recognize the gifts in more matured believers and be drawn to benefit from it is perfectly scriptural. Therefore, to give due respect to such persons is highly advocated but to become their protégé is not scriptural Matt 23:8.
In the bible, particularly the New Testament, it was the matured Christians that saw the grace and faithfulness in the lives of younger believers and the areas of lack they can fill in their lives. So, they drew them closer. Paul and Onesimus in Philemon 1, Acts 18:25-26, 12:25.
However, the matured always recognized that they too stood to be blessed with the calling in the lives of those they had drawn into closer relationship for the work of Christ not their ministries 2 Tim 4:11. This is quite different from the mentor and protégé system where, the protégé submits their resume officially or unofficially for consideration by the mentor who sees him or herself as master having a disciple who owes him or her allegiance. The allegiance becomes the main criteria for passing those who are interested to serve their vision—though, it’s put smartly in scriptural terminology.
The relationship that Priscilla and her husband Aquila had with Apollos, Elijah and Elisha and Paul and Timothy is far from the mentor and protégé humanistic invention.
Only Christ should have us as His protégés or disciples and, —“you all are brothers” Matt 23:8. Paul and Timothy was referred to as servants of Christ and the church in Phill 1:1. For Timothy to be a servant of Christ and the church, he did not have to first be a protege or serve Paul.
Every believer has a spiritual gift which, those with ministry gifts also benefit from and yet, it doesn’t make them protégés. The counsel of scripture is, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” Eph 5:21, 1 Pet 5:5. The ministry gifts equip those who operate in it. They also benefit from the safety of the spiritual gifts in the body to which God has set them Eph 4:16, 1 Cor 12:7. John and Paul’s statements in John 1:9-10 and Gal 1:8 echo’s it, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting” and “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Gal1:8, Acts17:11NLT.
Reading verse 8 of Galatians 1 carefully, you’ll notice that Paul is saying that the words they were inspired to preach is Christ himself or, their words were the voice of Christ. The implication is this; if the churches know the Lord’s voice, then, even if he (Paul) or anyone else came with another word, it is not to be received John 10:4-5. For this reason, as seen in 1 Cor 7:12, Paul always made it clear when he spoke from himself and not from the Lord.
The concluding statement of verse 8 of Galatians 1 indicates that God—not us, will be instrumental to those bringing their own words as if it were Christ’s to be accursed.
Paul never saw himself or others as above being derailed. How important that the Holy Spirit resides in every believer!
All believers are encouraged to grow in Christ by interacting with the other spiritual and ministry gifts in the fellowship of saints. In this interaction within and outside of one’s immediate community of faith, no one should be the disciple or protégé of a fellow believer. To use Jesus’ example of having twelve Apostles or many disciples to support the unscriptural practice of having a protector (mentor John 17:12) and the protected (protégé) is to say the least absurd.
Believers are to be equipped generally not specifically. True believers grow in Christ through fellowship with God, Christ and the saints by the power of the Holy Spirit.
When a believer has the privilege to give his or her time specifically to help another believer (for a season) to sharpen his or her comprehension and walk with Christ, it doesn’t obligate the helped believer to work in the gospel with the one who helped him or her. And, it shouldn’t turn the helped believer to the puppet of the one who God used to bring the help.
The Christian life is holistic not specialistic—as such, no individual in the body of Christ can supply another believer all he or she needs to fulfill their destiny. This truth will be appreciated if we understand there is a huge difference between our destiny and our ambitions. All Christians share one destiny which is eternal life but, ambitions run wild 1 Tim 6:12. God fulfils our destiny by taking us through His Way and ways if we’re willing Eph 4:1, Isa 1:19. Blindness and tragedy occurs when we accept His Way but refuse His ways because we want to fervently pursue our good ambitions. Misunderstanding the difference between our destiny and our ambitions is what drives us into the mentality and practice of mentor and protégé relationships.
It is true that mentor and protégé relationship can foster success in a particular specialty e.g., an architect seeking to advance in his field may be better off going to a more experienced and acclaimed architect who shows interest in him or her than going to an academic institution to acquire just a certificate. The additional benefit of profitable experience, contacts or networks the mentor creates is not likely to come from the institution of learning. But, if he or she is seeking to advance the entirety of his or her life as a Christian, the place to go is to God who holds her destiny in His hands. This is the reason all who become believers in Christ are added to a gathering of the saints.
We’ll continue in another post to examine and meditate on the subject
Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ