The Israelites wanted a king and that ended up being Saul which was a problem to some extent. David did a better job at it, but the overall idea of having a king wasn’t God’s idea in the first place. It was Israel’s idea. God worked through that with David, obviously, but the risks of having a king were greater than the way it was when they had Samuel. Problems came up later on with the divided kingdom, and everybody wanted to be king and there were 15 bad kings and so on.
God’s original idea though was Samuel, not Saul. The reason Israel wanted to replace Samuel with a king is because he didn’t have an “office” (even though he did have a king’s influence among them). He didn’t have an office or a staff of people. He had a gift and he had influence, wisdom, and supernatural life within him in a very special and unique way. This life within him was to the level that when Samuel was older and Israel saw that his sons were worthless, they thought a king would be an equivalent to Samuel—even though he wasn’t a king. He had no office, no title, no anything.
Who was more influential then, Samuel or Saul? The answer would be that administratively, Saul was perhaps more influential; but spiritually, Samuel was obviously more influential. That’s because it was God he was leaning on rather than on administration.
You all here understand the idea that God is Alive. You look for Life and for the Anointing. “As many as are led by the Spirit are sons of God.” “The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8). You all have it as central to your existence that Jesus is Alive and therefore we can seek Him as Head and He can make the decisions. As a body then, we simply cooperate with the Head rather than doing things for the Head. A human body that does things for its own head—that’s silly. That’s some sort of illness. But to be connected to the head and respond to the head—that’s beautiful! It’s been a pleasure being here because that is already very much a part of your lives together.
When you apply to leadership that same principle of responding to the Head, you get Samuel rather than Saul. The people of God didn’t serve Samuel as a king, yet he had so much influence that he may as well have been one! He didn’t make laws and decrees, but he simply was very good at reflecting the Lord’s thought and everyone came to trust him for that.
Gifts in the Body of Christ are the same way. Your gift, my gift, and Karl’s gift are all just gifts. There aren’t any gifts that are automatically in charge of all the other gifts. Rather, we’re all looking for the Anointing. Perhaps a brother in a roomful of other brothers and sisters is especially adept at speaking the Lord’s voice and everyone says, “Amen.” Like it was for the men on the road to Emmaus, “Did not our hearts burn within us as we walked along the way?” (Luke 24:32). It’s the same principle.
With leadership we don’t have any one person that’s in charge that makes the decisions or that’s the “voice of the ministry.” There’s nothing like that, per se. Instead we rely on that same principle that you have described as “following the peace” or “following the Life.” That’s the context in which leadership, our gift to the Body of Christ and maturity then express themselves.
Where I live, you could randomly ask a hundred people, “Who are the leaders in the church, in the body of believers here?” If you asked a hundred people, you’d probably get 25 different answers because there is no organizational chart. Out of those 25 different answers, perhaps two, three, four or five of those people named as leaders would be common for every single answer. But there might be a dozen different people named that aren’t on everybody’s list. That’s because, like Paul said, “I may not be an apostle to everyone else, but surely I am to you” (1Cor. 9:2). That’s a very strange leadership model, isn’t it? Organization says, “Well, Paul, either you’re an apostle or you’re not, and the church should recognize which one it is.” But organically, it’s, “I may not be an apostle to anyone else, but surely I am to you.” This is a man that wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, and yet he wasn’t recognized as the apostle of everyone. He had a gift that was such that he could say, “You have ten thousand tutors but not many fathers” (1Cor. 4:15). He was an apostle to them because it was a relational thing.
That’s how we approach it also, day to day. It’s as Samuel leadership, Paul of Tarsus leadership. This person may not be a leader to anyone else, but surely he is to John, Bill, Sally, and Mary—because he’s had an influence on them. He’s helped them change their lives in their workplaces, homes, marriages, and neighborhoods. This person has borne the fruit and shown the Anointing of God and the Life of God in a super way. But he may not be as close to these fifty other people, so they don’t know him well enough to know that he’s even had that kind of influence. So, “I may have been a father to no one else, but surely I’ve been to you,” is an example of a relational thing. It’s the same for prophet, teacher, help, or encouragement. Those gifts are all relational gifts as opposed to organizational gifts. For 24 years that’s worked wonderfully where we live.