There is no hierarchy in the Kingdom of God. If even Jesus – the leader of all leaders – laid down His life and considered it lower than ours so that He could lift us up and let us do even greater things than He did (John 14:12), then who are we to say that one person is higher in authority than another? No man was ever given authority over other men – dominion in Genesis was given over the world and the animals, not over each other. Authority is given not over people but over satan and his influence in the world, according to our calling in the Kingdom of God. Those who discern the voice of the Father, recognise who He has called and to what they are called to.
Hierarchy is a concept from the world – it does not exist in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is a level playing field, with all of the sons of God standing side by side, one in heart with their Father (and each other) and listening to and obeying His decrees, just as Jesus did. And if the leaders are anything, they are lower – not higher – because they are called to lay their lives down to lift up the sons of God. In fact, the Bible tells us that the church is to be built on the foundation – not under the rooftop of – the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20). That makes God’s true leadership lower, not higher.
I have heard it preached before, “The Kingdom of God is a kingdom, with rank, order, structure and hierarchy.” And then the preaching has gone on to compare the Kingdom of God to our natural armies – as though the Kingdom of God is meant to pattern itself after this pattern, designed by the world. The Lord said to me, ‘The Kingdom of God is directly opposite to the kingdom of this world. In the world’s kingdom, if you have an enemy who hurts you, you seek revenge. In the Kingdom of God, you love them. In the world’s kingdom, if you have a financial need, you hoard and keep. In the Kingdom of God, you give. So why would the Kingdom of God model the world in this area? It is no different than anything else – the Kingdom of God is directly opposite to the world.’ That means that as far as hierarchy and authority go, the world is not our model. If what we’re seeing is some sort of pyramid shaped structure, where there is one leader (usually ‘Senior Pastor’) up the top and everyone else must come in under their vision, and if they want their own authority they have to climb the ladder and be promoted, just like anyone else in a worldly business, is this of the Lord? If the Kingdom of God is directly opposite, then let’s flip it upside down and see how God REALLY planned it! The leaders are collective, they are the foundation (on the bottom) because they lay down their lives for the church, and they build everyone else up, each an equally important brick in the house HE’S building.
God gave a five-fold leadership which is intended to operate in oneness – The apostle and prophet (on which the church is to be built – Eph 2:20), the evangelist, teacher and pastor. This five-fold is appointed by the Holy Spirit, not the manmade institutions of this world. Stop and think about the reality of recognised spiritual leadership in the church today. Anyone can become a pastor – called of God or not. Enrol in Bible College, study hard, graduate and look for a ‘job’ in the field of ministry. It can be no different to any other career choice. Someone who enters recognised spiritual leadership this way may be called of the Lord… and they also may have put themselves there. There are also self-appointed ministers who might stick the word ‘Prophet’ on their business card, but that may not necessarily mean they have been appointed by Holy Spirit as a prophet. It is up to us to know Holy Spirit’s voice and remove from our hearts every filter (such as denominationalism) which could cause us to see things through our flesh, so that we can discern true spiritual leadership.
The leadership appointed by the Holy Spirit can be found anywhere – inside or outside of recognised religious institutions. The five-fold is called collectively to lead (with no head honcho other than Jesus) – not by controlling or ‘protecting’, but by going and by lifting. A leader hears from the Lord, obeys, and goes. Others see it and follow. The true test of a leader is not if they are given a man-made position where they can ‘lead’ others. The true test of a leader is if they go where and when God says to go – and those who are united to the Lord (and not to men) and have complete freedom (just as Christ gives us) will choose to follow them when they go.
True leaders will also not get people to come ‘under’ “their” vision. The purpose of a leader is to lift – to see the vision that God has planted within the hearts of the people, fulfilled. They will speak to the treasure within you, empower you to live the dreams that are in your heart, teach you to hear from the Lord for yourself and obey Him, and they will speak and declare vision – blueprints from heaven. If the vision they declare is connected with the vision in your heart, you’ll know it – because the Holy Spirit will show it to you!
The Lord gives each of us freedom as sons to walk in the fullness of the vision that has been placed in our hearts by the Lord. True spiritual leaders will come to us in the form of spiritual mothers and fathers who love us as their own flesh and blood, and empower us to live the vision contained in our hearts and will never use force to coerce or control us, or to pour us into their mould. They will also never use ‘cover’ as an excuse for protection. If ‘protection’ in the wilderness could lead millions of people to their death in the desert, and ‘protection’ for the Shulamite could keep her out of the pursuit of her King, perhaps it is not accomplishing what it’s intended to. Rather than control in order to ‘protect’, what is needed is to empower people to discern Holy Spirit so that THEY will know what is and what is not of the Spirit of God and what is of the flesh. The church is not to be a kindergarten filled with immaturity that needs a spiritual leader to discern on all of their behalf, because they don’t have the discernment to protect themselves. It’s also not supposed to be a jail that limits what is inside of people’s hearts, to ‘protect’ them from making a mistake. We must remember that God is big enough to handle our mistakes. If we step out on what we think is His voice and we miss it, He’ll pick us up and we’ll learn from the situation. Ultimately, we will know His voice and go from milk to meat (Heb 5:12 – 13, 1 Cor 3:2), infancy to adulthood. The Lord wants us to grow up as a body, into the maturity of Christ Jesus.
Colossians 2:20 (TPT) For you were included in the death of Christ and have died with him to the religious system and powers of this world. Don’t retreat back to being bullied by the standards and opinions of religion.
The Lord would say to you today that He has set you free from religious bondage and that you have the Lord’s permission to speak to and receive directly from Him, as you love and honour all those in the body of Christ, and recognise the treasure inherent within each one. You have the Lord’s permission to discern His voice in your heart, and to learn to live as one with Him. May out hearts be as that of the Shulamite:
Song of Songs 1:7 (TPT) …For I wish to be wrapped all around you, as I go among the flocks of Your under-shepherds? It is You I long for with no veil between us!
There is no veil between you and the Lord today. Hear His voice, obey it and revel in His Presence. You’ll walk into your destiny…