And he said, The kings of the Gentiles are lords over them, and those who have authority are given names of honour. Luk 22:25
It is hard to put thoughts into word. Not only in this story. Rather always.
It is not because I lack words. It is because of two things that are difficult:
- Expressing thoughts that are so much more than words and
- doing so that others even understand what I mean.
Imagine the problem God has, explaining the supernatural using—plain words. Talking to mostly natural people. Natural in the sense that we have been imprinted by what our natural senses gathered for so many years. Natural, as we have built a natural operating system for our thoughts.
- Our interrupts are external—we usually react to external stimulus.
- We have suboptimal drivers for our hardware. We treat our bodies unwisely and unhealthy.
- We interpret our thoughts wrongly, and if we do that long enough, we compile and program reactions, bad reflexes.
- We throw many exceptions when confronted with unexpected commands, unknown to our interpreters.
God wants us to install a new operating system, listening to supernatural interrupts, knowing our bodies and keeping them healthy as we are connected to the maker of it, having a compatible API to the voice of the Holy Spirit, interpreting commands and inklings according to heavenly principles.
From this we can derive that our thinker is the interface between the natural—built from matter and energy and subdued to natural laws—and the supernatural. Emotions are reactions of the body to thoughts, conscious or unconscious, and therefore natural. Our will is reaction as well as guide to our thoughts, and part of this interface. Our soul therefore is both natural as well as supernatural, the gateway between our spirit and our body.
As Spirit talks to spirit, you can imagine how important it is that our thinker functions according to heavenly principles instead of natural laws.
Let me give you an example.
Lording it over others
A great deal of our Christian culture still lives in the time when it was necessary to overcome despotic leaders and self proclaimed deified kings and emperors. We live back in an interpretation of the bible and its principles as it was read when the idea of a people of God emerged, guided by rules and regulations.
This happened twice. Once in the old testament, when Israel under Moses became a nation and the law was given. For the first time it was not benevolent and godly, even God inspired leaders like Abraham, or demonic and despotic rulers like Nimrod, but a common law given by a higher moral institution—God himself—that governed the people and even their leaders.
Badly misunderstood, misinterpreted and even neglected by most, it was only given to a few to understand it. One was David. He knew that it was by faith through grace and through a personal relationship with God that we live. That the law was a guide to lead us to the teacher, a sign to point to the real, not a means to itself.
Jesus reinterpreted the law for us. He did what Isaiah predicted: he gave us a better covenant, where the law is written into our hearts, becoming part of our basic input and output system, our operating system, our rules engine. But it did not take long for his people to interpret it all wrong again.
Obedience overcame love as driving force. Obedience to external interpretation of the law by the authorities overtook love- and spirit-driven living of internal realities of grace.
The church was back in hierarchical order, some egos keeping together the We of the people through rules and regulations, fear and the need for performance.
The few lorded it over the many.
The only way out seems to flee from the church, to leave faith. If you wanted to go beyond the present exegesis and application of the word of God for the time being as given by the authorities, and wanted to find the halacha of God, God’s fresh word of the season, you often had to leave the institution.
But what if you did not hear the voice of God, as it for a long time was the privilege of the few, the ordained to hear? You most probably left faith all together. Science, economy, ecology, or humanism took its place. Because the church lacked so much people yearned for:
- Trust. You had to perform and conform. If not, repent or be banned.
- Opportunity to grow. You either were part of the few, or you were laity. Sheep.
- Relationship. It was always top down. Preaching from the pulpit or pastoral care. But little friendship.
- Family. Who feels accepted and loved in a performance based environment?
A new Look
It is paramount to reinterpret our understanding of leadership.
Leaders ought to be one thing first: servants.
Of course we hear that from every pulpit. And serving as leaders is interpreted ever so often as the duty to tell you how a good life is lived, by doing what I tell you to. The humility to lead a lonesome life at the top of the pyramid. That is not what Paul tells us. He tells us to imitate him, not to obey him.
Serving much more is enabling. Reading about the fivefold ministry in Ephesians, we learn that they are given so that everybody grows into their own calling, becoming mature Christians. Leaders empower, enable, encourage, invest.
All those words start with the prefix ‘in’, sometimes assimilated because it is easier to pronounce. In stark contrast to ob-ey (from ob-audire), listen towards, with a strong sense of listening to a higher. To obey is putting the emphasis on the source instead of the receiver. Whereas ‘in, into’ emphasises the receiver. The other person becomes my focus, instead of his reaction towards me.
With such an understanding of leadership, the church becomes a frugal soil for trust, growth, relationship, even family.
When people imitate me and invest themselves into others, family happens. Relationships blossom. When they feel trusted, they dare to grow. They dare to make mistakes and learn. And maybe, just maybe they do the right thing from time to time, more often over time. Maybe they find God’s purpose and will for them, and become the person God wants them to be. What a novel idea.
In such an environment, people no longer wait for the pastor to ask them to do something, him providing the whole plan and all the resources for them. They take initiative. Today, most people are hurt and have given up as both the world and the church rarely value self-initiative and creativity. Unless decreed.
Leadership gets harder this way. You cannot lead from position any longer. You have to let people talk into even your very own domain. It can be scary. You have to let people have their own free will. It has come to that. But then, God does that all the time. Only free will allows for love. Everything else is slavery.
A feature of the Thinker: Intelligence
When we look at Canadian geese, we can see a higher form of intelligence. They have swarm intelligence. When they fly long distance, they do so in a V formation, each one taking part in the lead position with the most headwind for a while, while all the others can relax a bit.
But in swarm intelligence, the individual can be replaced. When small fish building a swarm pretend to be a big animal, the single fish is easily replaceable and has no special feature to set him apart from the crowd. And that is what it is all about. To hide in the crowd.
Collective intelligence is what God is after. The working together of the many as a We, each and every one uniquely and wonderfully crafted to bring his special mix of capabilities to the whole. Each one a vital, irreplaceable part of the whole, making the whole much more than the sum of its pieces.
But this is based on valuing the other, trusting one another, having relationships of equals, being a family, and giving opportunity and taking the responsibility to grow.
Let’s change the operating system.
Are you with me?