We are coming into the season of trees (Tu B’shevat) and looking at fruit. We go to the grocery, and we squeeze and inspect avocadoes before we buy them. How often do we look at our tree and our fruit? I was at the beach a bit ago, and a beautiful lady was walking by and stopped to look at the ocean. I was drawn to her and felt led to speak to her. She introduced herself and told me her name. Her name was the name of a fruit. Suddenly I saw her as a tree with beautiful blossoms in bloom. She was a believer, and she laid her hands on my husband and I before she left and spoke the Aaronic blessing over us. Her name was Cherry. I was reminded of a blog I wrote around 7 years ago called Cherry Tree Blossoms in Winter. You can read it HERE.
Now let’s get into leadership. We are all leaders. We are all servants.
In Parsha Bo, there is a showdown between Pharoah and Moses.
One man, Pharoah, has hardened his heart and the other man, Moses, wants to take a three-day journey with his people and worship the Father by keeping a feast unto Him. Pharoah is getting ready to lose a people he never truly owned.
Leaders come in many different packages, and some do not even want the position. Others thrive off it, and some use authority to push people around. The Pharaoh was a leader. Moses was a leader. Aaron was a leader. Miriam was a leader. She was a prophetess, but many only remember her for a mistake and one that we fail at often—the tongue.
Leaders of nations are slandered more than most, but the slander and stink eye given to leaders happens on the smallest of scales. Some people dishonor authority because they do not recognize it is standing in front of them. Yeshua came to his own, and they did not receive him. The Light of the World was shining Brightly, and men could not see.
They even compared Yeshua’s miracles to Beelzebub– flies on dung. Another reason some do not recognize authority is because the person who is using their authority is too immature and angry to bridle it yet. Like Moses, 40 years earlier, when he fled for his life due to taking a life. Moses, like nearly all of us, needed to be crushed. Most of the time, great leaders are born out of adversity. His fellow Hebrew said, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us?” Moses was using his God-given calling and gifting, but he was still green. He needed time alone with the Father. He needed a wise father-in-law, a wife, children, and a large flock of sheep to learn and become ready to lead a vast amount of people. HUGE.
Depending on the calling, sometimes the crushing is so intense, and the loneliness so deeply wounding, it causes men like Moses standing before the burning bush to say things like, “I can’t speak.” “I can’t lead this great people.”
One of the most grievous stories I have ever read in the Bible concerns a leader who led Israel 40 years.
A prophet is sent to do what prophets do, and the word he gives Eli is so fearful, I am grieved every time I read it. Notice the language presented in verse 33. Notice how long suffering the Father has been, waiting patiently for His servant Eli to do what he should have been doing. Please do not skip over this portion.
“And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32Then, in distress, you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread”’”(I Samuel 2:27-36).
Eli died by falling backward and cracking his stiff neck. Eli also did much good in 40 years, but he led with a blind eye. He acted like he didn’t see what his grown sons were doing.
All leaders make mistakes—Some more than others. Eli did not correct his sons. As Samuel ages, he repeats Eli’s mistake and appoints his sons to succeed him. Like Eli’s sons, they turn out to be selfish and corrupt (1 Sam. 8:1-3).
Most of us have had our share of good and bad leadership. Over 2,000 years ago, we were given warnings concerning leadership. If there were no wolves in sheep’s clothing, we would not have been warned about them. If there were no warnings about false prophets, “super” apostles, blind guides, foxes, serpents, and tares among us, we would not have to learn their “modus operandi.”
When something as spiritual as the structure and community we read about in the book of Acts becomes toxic, controlling, or run with an iron hand or a blind eye, we need to identify it. In Acts, everyone seemed to walk in their gifts and as a community. They had small home meetings. They sold their land to care for others. They had apostles. All their gifts flowed together, and the body with its many parts was unified. Philip’s daughters were freely able to prophesy. The prophets were meeting together and reconnecting with the other leaders. Men and women were in leadership and even one husband and wife. “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow countrymen and fellow prisoners. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.” (Acts 16:7, ESV).
We read about Junia and others, and their identity is not hidden by a false facade that they were too humble to have a title. They walked in their identity, and they did not try and be someone else to appease people. They began their letters with their titles: Paul, an apostle called by Yeshua. Philip the evangelist. Deborah, the judge.
Today’s structure Mimics the same problem that many crime bosses in the mafia dealt with. Someone wants to be the Capo De Tutti Capi. The supreme boss or at least underneath him as a captain. Since most the models or operations today are not set up with the instructions given in Ephesians 4:11-16, and throughout scripture, we have the “ every man does what is right in his own eyes” structure. Sadly, we like it that way.
Like most crime bosses, they like to keep things in the family, which means “family.” Usually, one man speaks every week, and the family does the worship or music, elder, etc. If a supreme boss sees another crime family member getting more spotlight, not paying their cut of the money, or talking to other Capo’s they might have them killed or place a horse’s head in their bed.
If you have the 5-fold, then you are not likely to hear someone in the community badmouthing one another and if you do, you have the leadership in place to bring the correction. Remember, the Holy One heard Aaron and Miriam speak against His servant, Moses. We may say things like, “I don’t agree with his message, or she had no business being a teacher. We may pick apart and picture all the ways we could do it better, but with the 5-fold, everyone is bringing their concerns together and leadership is holding meetings just as the apostles were meeting and deciding on how to proceed with the new converts or correcting persons who were doing things they should not have done.
A few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to hear an excellent teacher/rabbi announce that anyone who feels led to sing or is gifted in that area needs to audition for the worship team. So those gifted in song would now be able to use their gifts to minister to the body, not just “his family.” He has also started letting others speak and several times he has mentioned that they need the five-fold in place.
Gifts were never meant to sit quietly in pews.
Moses becomes one of the humblest, most righteous leaders written about in the Bible, besides Yeshua, he is up there. Paul, too, after breathing out threats and imprisoning the ones following Messiah, becomes meek and humble and authoritative to correct and lead as an apostle and one of the wisest men in the Newer Testament, but this came with suffering and death threats and a thorn in his flesh. Read the list of things this man suffered and then repent for complaining.
I am speaking as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent adrift at sea. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? (II Corinthians 11:23-29).
Moses suffers more than most! He was afflicted. He was rejected. They pick up stones to stone him. He cries out and says take my life, blot my name out of the Book. He is a man of many sorrows. Moses is a man who has suffered so much pain, he almost does not seem human. Who could handle and lead as He did? One was coming named Yeshua, who would. And this is why He longs to see the Face of the Holy One. His crushing started from the womb. His journey and calling cannot be comprehended. How many days of fasting and weeping and dealing with people continuously?
Leaders have power struggles at times. Today knowledge increases with a sprinkle of Hebrew in a Greek structure. Anyone who has ever been in leadership or is in leadership currently should vouch that we’ve all failed in some area—raising my hand. Waving.
A CEO of a successful corporate business would more than likely find the instructions given by Messiah Yeshua for success hard to swallow.
Yeshua said, “The greatest among you should be like the youngest (childlike), and the leader as one who serves.”
(Luke 22:26 ESV). Yeshua also asked the question, “who is greater the one who reclines at the table or the one serving?” Many would view the waitress or server in a fine multi-million-dollar home beneath or less than the wealthy owner.
Yeshua is constantly flipping over tables. He flips everything. He tells them, “I came to be a server.” Oh, friends! He was the greatest servant to walk the earth, and at his arrest and bloody beating, he said this about his “servants.”
“My kingdom is not of this world; if it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jews. But now My kingdom is not of this realm.”
The Son of Yah is arrested, and no one fights for Him. His servants have vanished when He needs them most.
Yeshua says to live– you must die.
To receive, you have to give.
He gave His life.
He sent his disciples out in 2’s and said take no money or extra tunic.
What CEO would do that?
He ministered to 5 000 one day and one woman the next. He ministered outside of the building on fishing boats and hillsides and the ones with the most esteem and clout and money and power. Yeshua corrected and rebuked them instead of schmoozing up to them.
Yeshua said, “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter.”
Yeshua was gaining the respect and honor of the people. He had to be stopped as he posed a threat to the leaders. He was the Light. Yeshua was outshining them. He was correcting, rebuking, and bringing healing to those suffering. They were intimidated, jealous, and fighting for control of the people, wealth, and political climate.
Yeshua tells Pilate that he would have no power unless His Father had given it to him. Ouch! That should make everyone realize the supreme authority is the Holy One. And our president would have no authority if it had not been given to him from above.
When a person has a problem with authority, it is usually rooted in their upbringing. It stems from having a harsh father or mother in authority or a grandparent or disciplinary role model such as a teacher or coach who treated them horribly or treated others in authority without respect. If parents mocked authority, badmouthed police, teachers, coaches, pastors, or their bosses, this too sets the stage for lack of honor. When a parent belittles or makes comments that others are ignoramuses or use prideful retorts about leader and even family members, this causes more problems.
Leadership and its weight can be heavy. People grumble, complain, pick up stones, and so forth. However, some leaders are toxic. They need healing before they hurt someone. Some leaders that are wise and well liked, still need healing. They fear others surpassing them or that the love of the people or the esteem of the people may be placed on someone else. Perhaps, they were never given attention as a child. Other leaders value their sons or children over the Holy One. Eli thought he was untouchable. But like the Teflon Don, all corrupt things much come to an end.
I will list a few characteristics of toxic leaders and cult leaders and a list of humble leadership characteristics and some questions concerning leadership I have been pondering. I hope you will engage and share your thoughts. I’d love to hear what characteristics you see in both and your thoughts on my own musings.
1. Toxic leaders keep the people thinking they are the only ones with truth, wisdom, or they make others feel inferior.
2. Toxic leaders want to grow the ministry, when in all actuality, they can’t care for the sheep they presently have. Remember when David counted Israel?
3. They have god complex or narcissistic traits. They may see other people as tools they need for their success.
4. They use the public format to deal with issues going on behind the scenes. Jabs undercuts and throws weight around.
5. They shout or speak loudly to sound powerful.
6. They use words that invoke fear. Leaving them means you are all alone on an information highway you can’t navigate it without them.
7. Social media platforms are set up to overrun your mailbox with marketing, tags, or blogs with pleas to share continuously. Pressure to give money or show up at every service or chastisement for not being part of the team.
8. Sensationalism. Dazzling shows, Prophetic prophesies that only they know, sparkling merchandise, and an overabundance of fear-based topics on devils and demons and they again, have all the secrets. Sadly, Christianity has made millions off the Gospel.
Humble, yet authoritative leadership:
- They are chosen by Adonai and appointed and anointed by Adonai. Paul warns not to lay hands on men suddenly to elect them. Pray and seek Him before placing someone in a position. Usually, good leaders are trained by good leaders. Before becoming Prophet, Priest, and judge, the young Samuel learned under Eli. And yet, Samuel was correcting the elderly priest through Words given to him by the Father. The power of the Ruach on Samuel made it clear to Eli that Adonai had chosen him.
2. The leader is usually trained behind the scenes and away from the people. Think Elijah, Moses, and David. Sometimes in the wilderness like John and Yeshua. This training may last years, and the assignment may vary in length and stature.
3. They are mentored by great leaders like Joshua, who was taught by Moses. Joshua received correction from Moses because he had a healthy view of leadership. Joshua spent much time in the presence of Adonai. Ruth was being mentored by her mother-in-law, and she took her instructions and proposed to Boaz.
4. Humble leaders have a prayer life. Yeshua was rising early to pray away in the silence.
5. Yeshua only did what His Father told Him to do. Yeshua used the word “see.” “Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does” (John 5:19).
6. Like Daniel, Esther, and others, they are obedient to death, even a den of hungry lions. Like Nathan, who had to correct David, or Elijah, who had to confront King Ahab, they do not fear man.
7. They are servants. Psalm 134:1, “Behold, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD.”
8. They listen well.
9. Good Leaders are confident and know their strengths and weaknesses. They know their role in the body, and they are equipped to help others find their identity and gifts.
10. They are leaders in their community, and the elders of these communities were to be leaders in their homes. Yeshua went outside the buildings to places where people were broken, chained in bondage, sick, wounded, and in need of counsel. Leadership is often what we do behind the scenes.
11. They are tested and tried like Joseph and Paul. Their suffering and the depth of it is the key to their assignment. (Hebrews 5:8) Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. “He sent ahead of them a man, Yosĕph, sold as a slave. They afflicted his feet with shackles, His neck was put in irons. Until the time that His Word came, The Word of יהוה tried him.” (Psalm 105: 17-19, ISR).
There are so many excellent qualities of Yeshua and how he conducted Himself as a leader/servant that many have written books about it. I am interested in hearing from you.
My questions for leadership and the Body of Messiah:
1. How many sheep are too many to care for? Honestly, I wonder how large is too large for an assembly. Sure, 5 thousand May show up for a fish fry and some bread, but what about one broken woman at a well? And carrying for the fatherless or widows and chronically Ill takes time and money besides empathy and love.
2. Should elders be tested in Torah and biblical understanding before being placed in a position? Why aren’t the Elders teaching at most assemblies?
3. Why do we not see more married couples ministering together in scripture or today in the body? One couple in Acts is mentioned, but where are the men and women who bring a balanced message to the body in unity?
4. Do you believe the 5-fold is the key to maturity and unity according to Ephesians 4? If so, do you know any assemblies operating using these instructions?
5. Do you think the church structure as “buildings” with overhead, expenses, and paid positions will be obsolete one day? If so, why?
6. With everyone having the ability to open YouTube, author a book, start a group, etc., how has this affected our intimacy and alone time with the One we are to be intimate with?
7. What do you think the number one issue concerning leadership is?
8. How do you envision fellowship in the book of Acts?
9. Do you foresee us having underground gatherings in our nation one day?
10. What do you look for in a leader?