I’ve never ever lost the Lottery, basically because I don’t play…but often when I am fueling up the vehicles I will wait in line and see grizzled old and young people lining up to buy a lottery ticket, especially on a weekend when the jack pot has grown large due to no previous winner.
So I recently read a Facebook post from a very respected minister, from a wonderful ministry and in it he said that the idea that a human “has the right to lead me” can be painful to an orphan spirit…I suppose this is true…but as a Dad I don’t think I have ever had a conversation where I talked to my kids about my rights…that seems a little unhealthy no matter who you are.
As I thought about this conversation a phrase sort of drifted into my head that I want to explore a minute…”Lottery leadership”
What is that?
Well its the idea that if you follow my ministry, get behind my vision, submit to my authority, that at some point in the future there will be a big lottery win, and I will of course reward you for being part of the enterprise, and of course those who are not will not get the big reward when it shows up.
This idea came to me because I was part of a group that never really had any resources for the servant ministry part of it, so we all kind of assumed that when the big payday came we would be able to cash in all that sacrifice.
It was never exactly outright in spoken language, but as with all doctrine there are parts of it that are “caught” and not “taught”…the idea was always implied, there was sort of unspoken understanding that one day ministry would pay off for all of us…some of us even had dreams about winning the lottery and we actually had discussions on how we would “invest” the millions that God wanted so desperately to give us but could never get the machines to work properly (sic).
I am not trying to speak condescendingly or in judgment here, just an observation of how we get committed to sacrifice in long directions…none of us would have ever said we were in it for the “millions”, but it was kind of understood, how else do you spend nearly 20 years serving with almost no return on investment?
Oh yeah we’re servants, that’s what we do…but what I notice sort of in retrospect is that the MAJORITY of our service in the modern model is serving someone elses vision, someone elses agenda, someone elses idea of what church is supposed to look like and if you don’t then you are not “faithful in another mans” so God will not entrust you with your own., heaven forbid if God wants you serving somewhere else or some other way, in order for that to happen you will need to “abandon” the vision of the team/leaders/pastors/church…and of course God does not like people who abandon others.
Isn’t that what we say?
Isn’t that what we think?
So hang in there payday is coming, if I want my own I need to take care of someone elses…But we might need to look at the context of what Jesus meant in this passage, it might mean the exact opposite of the way we’ve taught it, Jesus says this parable is about money, something the Pharisees loved.
If we truly want to apply this verse in context to our models it might be a little painful…if the context is “what did you do with the money” (which is what Jesus says), then that means if you are in leadership of a church you have absolutely no right to obscure or hide where the money goes, you do not get to cover it up and if there is no money it should be clear that you are not a good investor and should not be followed…isn’t that the context? Money?
So where’s the money? Show me you can turn a profit if you want the true riches of people…if we really mean this then Warren Buffet should be our example, the Mega-rich should be the only leaders we follow…Peter and John would not have qualified because they did not have any silver or gold…
Context people…its a bummer but its kind of important because each verse you use has two edges…much like the teaching on “covering” if I am submitted then by definition you cover me and I am guaranteed a prosperous and healthy demon-free existence and if I don’t have it then its your fault since you are my covering…
I have done this, I have used this kind of language to frame the conversation about discipleship and “releasing people into their dreams” and what that meant on the ground was getting them to support the vision I had, since after all I was one of the guys at the top, obviously God intended for me to be in charge since we all know that ALL authority is from God (something NOT taught in the Bible the way we teach it, if its true that ALL authority is from God then we were wrong to oppose the Nazis, since they were in authority by a legal vote).
This is also a great way to get people to support your vision…the idea that there is a “pay-off” coming and those who have faith can see it and hold to the vision until payday, if you buy into the leadership lottery then someday God will pull your number out of the bin and you will win BIG!
85% of churches in America are less than 200 people, 60% are under 100…this means that the huge majority of church pastors are functioning with limited resources, very limited…so that translates into needing a whole lot of servant sacrifice from the members of the flock and there are several ways to do this.
One method is the “Submit to God by submitting to me” model, although most would never come right out and make it so plain, it is often implied and promoted through the language of “Gods will for you” and “Church is Gods idea” kind of teaching.
Current popular language is that Western Christians suffer from an “orphan” spirit and what they need most is to be plugged into family, and lucky you, I get to be your dad…and if you don’t agree its because you are wounded and an orphan…once you are healed you will agree and see and be a part of my vision for you.
I wonder how that model would have worked on Paul or Barnabas or Peter…what about the Ethiopian Eunuch it seems God kind of missed the boat on a few of these disciples by leaving them without spiritual dads…bad God, no lottery for you!
I know the Bible says God places the solitary in families, but maybe He’s the one who does it and doesn’t need us barking so much about “orphans”…and frankly this language seems a little contrived since there are REAL orphans in the world today in need of REAL families, to call someone who isn’t blindly following some leader an orphan seems disingenuous to real fatherless children.
(And before you go all “Yep he’s an orphan” I have read the Jack Frost books, listened to his teachings, been Sozo’d and broken generational curses, prayed for the Spirit of adoption and been through all of it several times I do not have the slightest sense of being an orphan I am deeply connected to my Heavenly Father in ways that might even make you jealous)
The new packaging that is gaining huge traction uses the word “dream” to identify how you are supposed to sign on the dotted line…we are all to work together to release the dream each person has and the best way to do that is to submit to a leader who has a dream of you being submitted to him/her, that way you will not be an orphan.
What if my dream is to not have anyone else controlling my dream? How are you going to do that for me?
This of course is a bit tongue-in-cheek, I am not advocating that ALL pastors are doing this, heck most of them can’t afford the new teaching materials so we’ve got a ways to go.
But this other idea, the idea of the “big pay off”…it has quite a trendy following…and when you mix it with the language of orphans and dreams what happens next is how we explain people not living their dreams and getting burned by sacrifice…they just weren’t willing to be part of a family and wait for the harvest.
I just read about a church in New York that is worth over 2 billion dollars…they received land way back in the day and have leveraged that into real estate holdings worth a considerable sum of money…this church is the lottery players dream church, just think of how many of your dreams 2 billion dollars could buy, and its a Church,how great is that?
I find it interesting that Jesus did not seem to give a rats ass about the dreams of the Pharisees…whats more is I find him saying things like “Let no one call you Rabbi, or father, or teacher”…
Matthew 23 is one of the roughest and starkest sermons Jesus ever preached and frankly it gets very little airplay on today’s teaching network, I wonder why?
The idea that someone has the “right” to lead others feels a little dangerous to me, where do the leaders rights begin and the followers rights end? Can you lose the right? Can you earn the right? All of this seems very Greek/Platonic mindset and leadership techniques and if I am not mistaken the Pharisees Jesus seemed to slam were functioning fully within their “rights”, yet Jesus said don’t do what they do.
When the planet went into rebellion and darkness God’s solution was not more authority, His solution was to send Jesus as a direct reflection of the Father who came to serve and not be served and he was so dedicated to restoring the relationship he did not let a painful cross stop Him until everyone could be reconciled, and somehow we’ve managed to turn His drive for relationship into a system of rules and religion.
God never once asserted His “right” to rule the planet, even though it was His, He made it and the fullness thereof…instead He came to serve and there is a lot of times when Jesus told people “Don’t say anything about this healing” or He would leave right when God was moving in signs and wonders, he would just shut down the meeting and go out to be alone…he never seemed to cash in his lottery tickets, even when they would have paid big time.
This idea of the “big pay-off” seems like it has a lot of power to distract from His desire to have a relationship with each of us…in my world the pay-off, the lottery IS the relationship with Him.
So I’ve already won, I don’t need to play anymore.
What that means in practical ways is I am no longer motivated by some big payday to serve others, what motivates me is love for Him…and honestly there is a lot of other places to serve than the big lottery machine of leadership that seems to dominate the landscape right now…much like the tithe I get to choose where my service goes.
In conclusion I will note that the way God exalted Jesus was in giving Him a name…and that name is not some magic power he holds over the nations…the reason I kneel is because of how much he loves me…I have never said anything like “Luke I am your Father”…but I have been called Dad, and it is a term of affection, it is a name of honor, and I think that is the way Jesus has been exalted, not as some sovereign, but as the one who reconciles us to the Father.
His name is not a sword to beat the nations into submission, His name is a doorway of hope to the broken…when has He ever used His name on you to get you to submit?
The lottery for Jesus was in getting a name that means so much to so many people, of becoming the path of shalom to the Fathers house…