Leadership Principles That Will Create Lasting Change in the Body of Christ

In this season, God is calling His body to cleanse the streams and restore right motives. (Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash)

The Lord has called His people to be kings and priests in this day. As the world looks for answers to all the confusion and chaos of the present moment, it is vital that there are those who can stand as the carriers of His voice and presence.

This means that the royal priesthood of the body of Christ needs to be preserved. The enemy's plan, however, is to silence and destroy it. As I prayed and sought God on behalf of His church, He led me to the story of David as he hid from Saul in 1 Samuel 21 and 22. I want to share some keys with you that will strengthen your discernment and enable you to fulfill the will of God in this hour.

David in Isolation

In 1 Samuel 20, David had learned with all certainty from Jonathan that Saul was planning to kill him, and so he fled to Gath to preserve his life. On the journey he went to see Ahimelech the priest in the town of Nob. Ahimelech recognized him as one of Saul's faithful men and allowed him to take bread and the sword of Goliath, which was being kept there.

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When David saw that He would not be able to take refuge in Gath, he then went to the cave of Adullam where he was joined by many people of Israel who were living in debt, distress and discontentment. He also sought to protect his family from Saul, and asked the king of Moab to allow his mother and father to stay in his protection until it was all over.

David's situation was like that in which many people have found themselves today, in which they are isolated and having to take actions to preserve their lives and the lives of their family, and where they are depending on others for provision and protection. At the same time, there are also many who are under financial pressure and in need or distress because of all that is going on. Somehow in the midst all of this, David was still able to find favor with God and lead well, and so it is important for us to learn the principles and strategies that made this possible.

Saul and Doeg

The Word of the Lord eventually came to David to get up and move from Adullam and go to Judah. While this was all taking place, Saul was still pursuing David. When the story moves to focus on Saul, he is sitting underneath a tamarisk tree in Ramah with his spear in his hand, bribing his men to be loyal to him through offers of fields, vineyards and positions of authority. A man named Doeg steps forward at this point to reveal information on the help Ahimelech the priest gave to David, to position himself as loyal to Saul while the rewards are being offered. Saul is outraged at what he hears about Ahimelech the priest and summons him and all the priests of Nob.

When Ahimelech is questioned by Saul, he recounts David's track record as Saul's faithful servant, and truthfully declares his innocence in the help that he gave him. Saul's anger is not sated, however, and he orders his men to kill the priests of the Lord. They refuse, and Saul orders Doeg to do it. Doeg is willing and kills 85 priests there and then, as well as men, women, children and animals in the town.

This tragedy highlights many things that had gone wrong in Saul's character and leadership, and which we need to be aware of in the body of Christ today.

The Tamarisk Tree

The first time the tamarisk tree is mentioned in Scripture is during the life of Abraham. God called Abraham to leave his father's lands and go to a place that He would show him (Gen. 12:1). Abraham obeyed and although at first he had problems with rulers in those lands, and made a mistake when he misled King Abimelech about his relationship to Sarah, his ways pleased the Lord and so God made his enemies to be at peace with him (Prov. 16:7). In Genesis 21, Abraham settles a final dispute with King Abimelech regarding the sharing of space and makes a covenant with him. On the back of this, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and called on the everlasting God there. Because of this, the tamarisk tree is a symbol of eternal covenant.

Not many people, however, also realize that the tamarisk tree is known as the salt cedar, because its leaves can be used to mine salt. The tamarisk, therefore, represents a covenant of salt, which is a covenant of fellowship. Saul and David had eaten together at Saul's feasts, and David had married into Saul's family. Yet now, Saul had put himself in front of such a great symbol with a weapon in his hand, bribing others to help him destroy a person with whom he had fellowshipped and who had done him no wrong.

Saul knew the significance of the place and tried to benefit from it while knowing very well that he was chasing after someone that God has chosen, and knowing that he himself had disobeyed God in many ways. It is a real misstep in the body of Christ for someone to use a place of significance that God has used for eternal covenant, be it a pulpit or a media platform, as a weapon to speak against another person or influence others against them simply because they see that person as a threat.

Abraham gained territory that wasn't his by obeying God and addressing his relationship issues. Saul, however, was insecure about losing his territory, and was not willing to obey God or address his relationships in the right way. In this season God is calling His people to obedience and to relationship. If you have lost territory and influence, don't be tempted to use the things of God in a fleshly way to get them back or to pursue those who are doing well, but return to the ways of God and let Him restore your peace and your proper fellowship.

Preserving the Priesthood Through Right Motives

It was at the time that Saul was offering bribes that Doeg stepped forward, though he had known the information before. Saul's leadership drew out the worst characteristics within his people. When leaders attempt to motivate people in the body of Christ through bribes or fleshly rewards, it allows competition, envy and jealousy to flourish. The people are not really transformed, as their behavior is only driven by what is on offer at the time. There will be cycles of defeat in their lives and communities because there is no lasting inward change.

Doeg was bitter with the priesthood because he had been detained before the Lord in the town of Nod (1 Sam. 21:7) and this looked like an opportunity for revenge. He also knew how to exploit Saul and which buttons to push to position himself for Saul's rewards of territory and status. Because of Saul's weaknesses, Doeg was able to manipulate his leader toward his own agenda, and actually destroy the priesthood. He had no fear in supporting Saul to pursue David and wipe out a generation of priests.

In this season, the Lord is driving out the spirits of bitterness, malice and manipulation that have caused so much contamination and pollution. Leaders must be careful to not allow these spirits to find space or opportunity to exploit them. These spirits are looking for territory and react to strategic God-given relationships that are working well and instigate division to wreck them for their own benefit. They suspect that something must be wrong within the relationships even if everyone is innocent. They look for information that they can use at a tactical time to take out people and partnerships they don't like. This stops people from wanting to testify in the church because instead of releasing joy and celebration, their testimony gives out information for people like Doeg to use for their own agenda. People begin to hide the glory of God out of fear, and this should not be so.

In the end, Ahimelech was killed because he recognized David's authority, anointing and faithfulness. In Doeg, Saul had raised somebody like himself, who was moving out of self-interest and willing to ignore the fact that God had clearly put His anointing on another person. Doeg also complained that Ahimelech had allowed David to take Goliath's sword, but it was David who had killed Goliath in the first place to save Israel. In these times, the character of Doeg shows in people who are happy to attack or discredit a known prophet for endorsing someone that they do not like, or for having an anointing that they don't want to recognize because it threatens their sense of territory. It also shows in people who don't want to recognize the good that others have done, or allow them to have what they have worked hard for. The Lord is dealing with this at this time because the people He has called must be preserved and allowed to live and fulfill their callings.

David and the Shepherd's Heart

David moved in a completely different spirit and character to that of Saul and Doeg. David was chosen by God and always sought to be in His presence. He had a revelation of God's mercy and heart. He looked at the people that God had chosen without bringing his self-interests into the picture. Saul pursued David to kill him though he had done no wrong, but when David had the opportunity to kill Saul he wouldn't, despite all that Saul had put him through. Instead he recognized the value even of a man who had lost his anointing, saying, "The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him. For he is anointed of the Lord" (1 Sam. 24:6).

Because David had worked through his rejection and various difficult emotions and relationships in the presence of God, there were components of David's heart that pleased God and God chose to give him the shepherd's staff to lead His people. Many people with distress, debt, discontent and dysfunction gathered around him, but the Lord trusted David to turn them around to inherit His will. Whereas Saul's leadership drew the dysfunction of his people out and made it worse, David's leadership transformed the dysfunction into something greater. That is what God's kingdom really looks like.

In this season, God is calling His body to cleanse the streams, and restore right motives, honor and true leadership wherever this needs to be done. May God grant you the discernment to see and understand the will of God in this hour and be a source of transformation for the people so that the glory of God will be revealed.

Scripture, Prayer and Declaration

Scripture: Psalm 35:27 says, "May those who favor my righteous cause shout for joy and be glad; may they say continually, 'The Lord be magnified, who delights in the peace of His servant.'"

Prayer point: I pray that those who are called into the priesthood of God and to transform God's people will not be hindered or destroyed, and that the strategic relationships that God puts together will not be destroyed or misaligned.

Decree: I decree that whomever the enemy is looking to devour will not be found and the spirit of the devourer will be broken and halted in their advance in Jesus' name! No one will be devoured or baited in Jesus' name! Lord, release Your fire to burn and consume anything that will stop the movement. Give us the wisdom to rightly navigate for the times ahead in Jesus' indomitable name!

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