“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
“Are you following a man?”
This is the question I got asked the most when I decided to move to Middle-of-Nowhere, South Carolina. At first, the question bothered me. I could hear the Lord for myself and this was where I felt His Spirit leading me, thank you very much!
I get it. I know the stigma of calling someone a “mother” and “father” who is not related to you by blood. I’ve heard it all, from, “This means you’re in a cult,” to “You’re depending on someone else to hear God for you.” Then there’s a whole other camp: those who accept the term, but have been hurt by incorrect demonstration. Especially in charismatic circles, this word has become muddied with men who claim to care about sons and daughters, but really they just want servants to their own agendas.
Like a natural father should, a true father (and apostle) in the kingdom cares more about the dreams of His sons. He lives his life for the sake of legacy, not self-fulfilled ambition. A father is there to shepherd your heart into pastures of peace. A father is there to bring empowerment and permission to your life and dreams. A father is the person who has full permission to say “no” when they see you heading down a wrong path. A father is your biggest encourager. They are the Jacobs robing us in multicolored garments of identity. They are the Noah’s leading us onto arks into new lands. They are the Pauls saying, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”
And I have experienced all of these things first hand. So, now, when they ask, “Are you following a man?” I give a different answer. “No, I did not move here just because I was following a man, but yes, I am following a man…” I follow an Apostle, knowing that, along with the teachers, pastors, evangelists, and prophets, they are meant to help perfect the Church (Ephesians 4:11-16). I follow a Father, a man and his wife, who I’ve walked closely with for 11 years. They know my weaknesses and strengths. They have my permission to speak the hard things to my husband and I. They have permission to speak into my parenting, my marriage, my dreams…and they have. I follow another man, my husband, a man who seeks the Lord for our family. Even when I disagree, I trust His ability to see. This has never failed me. I trust the positions God has given these men in my life and consider them a great gift.
If any of this is making you balk, thinking, “what control these people have!” Then, I want you to know it is of the upmost freedom. Boundaries create freedom. In fact, the greater this government becomes in my life, the more my life itself falls into peace and order. The more open my heart and ears to these leaders, the more alive my life with the Lord becomes. So, do not be afraid for me. Be afraid for the lawless man. Be afraid for the one who is a law unto himself. The man who, he alone, holds all the cards of decision-making in their life. The one who never takes “no” as an answer from anyone but themselves. Be afraid of the man who says they are submissive to authority, but can not remain. Be afraid of the man who is leader over many, but submissive to none.
Once upon a time dancing in the church was seen as demonic. Playing instruments in certain keys were banned from the Church. Prophesying was reserved for the very few. One day, I believe that spiritual government will be seen as normal as these things now are in much of the church. This is not a government that moves off of power, but a mutual honor from father to son. It is the Malachi 4:6 promise that He turns the hearts of the sons to the fathers and the fathers to the sons. It’s not a government of show, but one that actually has the power to send individuals into their deepest devotion to Yahweh.
By far, this is one of the greatest memorial stones I will place down. It is a path my children will follow with ease, because they will taste and see its fruit daily. They will know a family beyond just natural family, though we are blessed to have greatness in both! They will know what true community is like, not the stale alternative religion offers. This isn’t “church family,” this is those who are there in and out of your every day. It is those who empower you in the lifestyle that comes as a true follower of Christ. May my sons and daughters be blessed with fathers and mothers beyond just us. May they be blessed with an Apostle whose life is worth following. May they have ears to hear the prophets and hearts to honor the evangelists. May they know how to submit to the wisdom of our shepherds and teachers. May they know the government of the Kingdom and the joyous freedom it brings.
Abba, I decree a removal of the polluted imagery that comes to our minds when we hear the word “government”. Your government is one of peace and wisdom. Your kingdom is a free kingdom, full of spirit-laws that are good. Give us the grace to open our hearts and hear what You are truly speaking–unbiased and unafraid–about your government. May we know the beauty of honoring another’s voice and the power that is released by way of that honor. Grant us vulnerability, accountability, and authenticity. In Your name, Amen.