Leaders are often faced with the unpleasant consequences of people who act out of immaturity, wounding, rebellion, and deception. For the benefit of the individual and community, it is often necessary for leaders to confront and instruct.
Unfortunately, too often people are (in the name of “mercy” or “tolerance”) left unaccountable for the damage they bring to ministry or family or the Kingdom. Because so many people do not understand Biblical leadership, authority, and accountability, a leader who dares to confront may be called unloving or legalistic, at times through anonymous notes left in the offering or mailbox. Genuine authority owns its actions and does not hide behind anonymous notes.
The Leader’s Heart
Leaders who have been around for a while have gone through several seasons of heart motivation examination prompted by the Holy Spirit, as well as, the internal search for compromise and the fear of man. Fear of what other people may say or think or do is a hindrance to Kingdom building. Leaders who address sin and weakness are often misunderstood and criticized. Therefore Holy Spirit will convict of human weakness in the heart of the growing leader which tempts to avoid speaking up when it is called for.
When seeing a person take that wrong turn and begin to speak and behave in a contrary manner, the challenge before the leader is to discern between his own soul and spirit, so as to have the proper response.
The first step is a personal, internal heart check, or to put it another way, getting the log out of your own eye first. Is your personal disappointment the primary motive for wanting to take action? It may be necessary to spend some time getting the heart clear first, so that the behavior can be courageously addressed. Do nothing from selfish ambition.
“Judge not,” Jesus said, “that you not be judged.”
“Judge not” here means to “condemn not people”. After all, the very message of Christianity is that of redemption and second chances. We can certainly condemn wrong behavior; Scripture is clear that we are not to call evil good.
“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” ~ John 7:24
Jesus’ judgment was right and could be trusted, because He had no agenda than to further that of Father God. This is a powerful and secure position!
“But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me.” ~ John 8:16
Alternate words for judgment which do not carry the same connotation of condemnation are evaluation and discernment. To evaluate that a person is divisive, for example, leads us to take or avoid certain steps with that person. Recognizing divisiveness as a flaw can be a safeguard and possibly a teachable moment. This calls for discernment as to the nature and seriousness of the flaw. A green, hard fruit is not the same as a rotten or poisonous one.
True discernment recognizes that your own personal feelings are not the focus. Being personally affected by bad behavior will call attention to it, but true discernment flows from the spirit instead of the soul. Indeed, your soul can be vexed and your spirit accurately discern at the same time. Anger in the soul will alert to a violation, and then a mature believer is to move by the spirit in righteous response.
“Be angry and sin not.” ~ Eph 4:26
A righteous response is what is good for the individual and the community of believers. It often requires leaders to take a courageous stand, and where possible, to seek to facilitate Christlike maturity through teaching, exhortation, and accountability. Love will motivate confrontation that calls for a change in attitude and behavior because it is the right thing to do.
Executing Righteous Judgment
Taking a stand is not only done in the presence of other people, but also in the spirit realm with the authority given to us over evil spiritual forces propagating sin and deception.
“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;” ~ Eph 5:11
Lying, rebellion, dishonor, gossip, deception, etc. are works of darkness which call for leaders to take action.
We bless people, but we do not bless their sinful and erroneous behavior. Instead, leaders are to contend for righteousness, and execute righteous judgment on these behaviors.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”~ Matt 16:19
This means using spiritual weapons against spiritual forces which deceive, manipulate, and work against righteousness. Using the authority you have received, command the specific works of darkness to be destroyed. The two-edged sword cuts two ways. What is healing for the body is lethal to the disease.
This involves lifting up your voice something along these lines:
“I bless my brother and pray for him to grow and increase in the knowledge of the Lord.”
“I expose the work of darkness and rebuke the deception, pride, and spreading of division. I command the work of darkness to be broken and to be stopped in Jesus’ name. May the work of righteousness flourish.”
God is looking for those on the earth to declare what is from His hand and what is not.
Leaders, you have a voice! Let it cry out for righteousness!