Doing What Your Leader ‘Suggests’

I was reading a message by Simon McIntyre (a Senior Pastor at C3 Oxford Falls). I’ve often enjoyed his preaching in the past. At first, he made some reasonably good points on the subject of us saying ‘God told me’ – using this to justify doing things that we want to do even when it contradicts scripture. Ps McIntyre pointed out that often God doesn’t tell us – we tell us. Except that he didn’t use the word ‘often’. Reading his message, he seems to be teaching that God never tells us – we always do. There were no qualifying words to soften the blow!

I know that I hope I don’t do this, but its possible I’ve fallen into the trap. Hopefully, by applying scripture in my life, I do it less often. This shows the value of using scripture as a measure in our lives, as we’ve been discussing on several threads here recently. However, I’ve definitely come across the odd example of individuals doing what Ps McIntyre describes – for example, when God ‘tells’ them to get romantically involved with someone other than their current husband or wife.

So reading on in his article, I was disappointed, though not completely surprised, to see what followed, on the last page. Using the logic that we need to apply scriptural principles to our lives rather than rely on the idea that God tells us things directly, we should follow the principle of submitting to those who have the rule over you – in this case church leaders – when this contradicts or postpones what we think God has told us. That is, if we think that God told us to do something, this is overruled if a church leader ‘suggests’ to us that we do something else.

This could sound innocuous to start with. However, Ps McIntyre seems to be insisting upon submission to those who ‘rule over us’ regardless of our own judgements about our circumstances. Is this how leadership in the church is to be? Do we ‘rule over’ one another at all? Of course Ps McIntyre insists that leaders are to suggest, rather than demand, but if we are to submit regardless, dismissing any reservations we may have, what is the difference? I’m sure Ps McIntyre would not turn his brain off upon demand! He’s too smart for that.

Matthew 20:25-28
25(U)But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
26″It is not this way among you, (V)but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,
27and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;
28just as (W)the Son of Man (X)did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Who is our head?

Who are we to submit to?

What form does submission take?

Does it involve doing what we are told, even when told very nicely, regardless of any other judgement we may have made upon the matter in line with our understanding of scripture, and in prayer?

Does this kind of teaching encourage the same culture of leadership that Jesus encouraged?

19 thoughts on “Doing What Your Leader ‘Suggests’

  1. This is an example of a message that to me appeared to be designed to support the leaderships agenda – in this case to achieve an obedient congregation – rather than be there simply to encourage or assist people. I can see that someone who believed this might argue that if you submit in this fashion, regardless of your own reservations, God will make sure it works out for the best regardless. But this is not what the Bible tells us, in my view – though I think it resembles what Severe Bevere teaches.

  2. “While we tend to apply “they speak a vision of their own imagination” to the words of others who claim to speak God’s words, this should also be applied to all those who claim their own imaginations are certainly the voice of God speaking to them internally.”

    A quote from the link you gave, Teddy.

    I think Simon McIntyre’s article basically agrees with this.

    Still, how can we have a relationship with God if we can never discern His voice?

    Further, how can we trust that leaders can discern God’s voice in _our_ lives any better than we ourselves can? Are we meant to lay our own discernment aside before their greater judgement?

    Much counsel is good of course, but ultimately we are all responsible for our own lives, and must make our own choices in a responsible way – or will we forever remain children being told what to do and taking no responsibility for our actions and their consequences?

    This means that we must seek to hear God’s voice in our lives – but not that we should think every thought is from Him! Testing everything, including what we think, against scripture, and seeking wise counsel when we need it, is probably the way to go. Not mindless acceptance of our own will or our leader’s instructions.

    I think Ps McIntyre’s article is way too simplistic, though it does use some truth to lead into its final point – which is where it goes off into potentially cultish territory.


    I wish I could take credit for ‘Severe Bevere’. But no, I actually heard some C3 people using the name, and I thought it was very apt. 🙂

  3. Part of the problem can be trusting leadership doing justice to God’s Word when they’re in the pulpit. Exegete the Word faithfully and then we will “hear” God speak!

  4. Yes – so its not a matter of doing what we are told and switching off our brains and personal responsibility, so much as recognising when a leader is faithfully teaching the word, and submitting to the faithful teaching, because we can freely test it and see that it stands up. We can recognise when the teaching stands up, even though there might be discrepancies with the leader’s own behaviour at times – as they are only human like us. When they are faithfully exegeting, they are walking in the authority of scripture rather than their own authority.

  5. This is a pretty sad view of CCC doctrine.

    I thought it was bad enough when I was told from the pulpit and then in person by the pastor that the pastor knows what Father is saying to me and I do not. I have to trust what the pastor says to me because he is anointed by the laying on of hands.

    At that point I knew that I was looking at cultish behaviour and could not support it. I was out of there (eventually).

    Now we hear that:
    1. even the pastors don’t hear from God, but
    2. we have to obey them anyway because that is a biblical principle.

    Who says it is a biblical principle? The pastors! But apparently they don’t hear from Father – so how would they know?!

    What a joke. And a depressing joke at that.

  6. Oh yes. If I obey the pastor I get an open heaven of blessing above me (that was stated from the pulpit) – but apparently I don’t get a sufficiently good relationship with my Father to know what he is saying to me.

    I need my pastor/mediator to tell me what my Father is saying to me do I?. That doctrine is cult cult cult.

  7. Any time people are taught to obey those who ‘rule over them’ regardless of any reservations they may have, we enter cult territory.

    Any time people are discouraged from thinking for themselves or from taking responsibility for themselves, we enter potential cult territory.

    A good teacher/leader has no need to control people in this way.

    Not leading people into temptation, encouraging them and being a good example is helpful to people; putting them in straight jackets just stunts their growth. Transformation has to come from within, thanks to our relationship with our Father; it is not forced upon us from the outside.

  8. I agree too.

    People will love and follow selfless, caring, compassionate leaders who are honest, humble and scrupulous with the scriptures. People don’t rise up against the charitable servant but the selfish tyrant! Pastors demanding obedience through some fabled right are in the wrong business. Christians submit to love and it’s requirements not tyranny and it’s demands.

    “I was told from the pulpit and then in person by the pastor that the pastor knows what Father is saying to me and I do not. I have to trust what the pastor says to me because he is anointed by the laying on of hands.”

    What an abuse of the loving biblical office.

    The preacher isn’t the authority. The scriptures have always been the authority. If we disagree with the interpretation or use of the scripture we shouldn’t be pressured to agree against our own understanding and conscience. If we sense we’re being manipulated we probably are. I think we should try to give people much grace but determine not to be abused.

    Also, I think it certainly is legitimate to receive guidance, wisdom and understanding personally from the Holy Spirit. I think we can trust in the relationship we have with Him in that sense. But sometimes people seek guidance where common sense is more than sufficient. That doesn’t negate hearing His voice in our hearts amidst the deafening noise of the world or in the time of temptation and the time of need.

  9. But the most hardest thing to detect is when the charitable starts to turn into the tyrant. It would be quite a shock to the congregation if someone accused their charitable leader of being a tyrant.

    I would say from the stage a lot of pastors come across as loveable, scripture-knowing unselfish servants. But in fact they are tyrants in disguise.

    ‘Hypocrite’ is a good word in this culture for leaders and singers of today. The original Greek definition is ‘actor’.

  10. “from the stage a lot of pastors come across as loveable, scripture-knowing unselfish servants. But in fact they are tyrants in disguise.”

    Ooo! Now that I’m not attending an organised church, I find myself hoping to be a little more charitable than that. I wouldn’t want to think of every pastor who seemed good as really being a tyrant in disguise!

    I think the way to tell from viewing the stage, is to ask whether they are often using scripture to manipulate people to suit their own agenda (or vision), or whether they are using scripture to encourage, teach and support people in their daily lives as they go, wherever they are.

    Other than that, you can tell by the results in the congregation itself – are the teams of people helping in certain areas cheerful about what they are doing, or are they feeling depressed and pressured?

    I’m talking generally here – there are always individual instances which no one can really tell about from the outside. But in a healthier general culture, hopefully there are less of these.

  11. Yes, you will know them by their words, I think for example Josh Kelsey seems pretty genuine by what Ive watched on utube. I always listen intently now, there are definately false prohpets/profits out there :oD

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