One of the blessings of hosting leaders for an extended period of time in our home is the opportunity to enjoy many conversations focused on an interesting variety of topics. Conversations are colored not only by personalities but also by the graces endowed by God on those personalities. Hosting our friends and colleagues from Kenya these past few months resulted in numerous conversations with a variety of hues cast through the prism of apostolic grace. I began to track in my mind some of the specific subjects repeatedly addressed during our verbal apostolic exchanges. Here is a shortlist of such topics:
(For a definition of governance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governance)
Apostles are not just concerned with the governance of the church. The apostolic mindset thinks about governance in all aspects of society. It is popular today to talk about the seven mountains of cultural influence: Arts & Entertainment, Business, Education, Family, Government, Media, and Religion. Healthy culture-shaping is dependent on good governance and virtuous leadership in each of these realms of culture.
The Apostle Jesus (Hebrews 3:1) ministered in a way that was confrontational with his contemporary religious and political leaders.
The Apostle Peter was sent to minister to Cornelius, a Roman Centurion: Acts 10
The Apostle John was chosen to prophesy the final destruction of Babylon in the book of Revelation.
The Apostle Paul engaged religious and political leaders:
Proconsul Gallio of Achaia – Acts 18:12–16
Roman Tribune Claudius Lysias – Acts 22:25
Ananias the High Priest – Acts 23:3
Governor Felix – Acts 24
Governor Porcius Festus – Acts 25:1–12
King Agrippa – Acts 25:13–27
Emperor Caesar – Acts 27:45
Circumstances built a platform from which Paul could address these leaders. As an apostle, Paul’s primary mission was to preach the gospel. No doubt he preached the gospel to each of these leaders. King Agrippa response to Paul’s oration was,
“You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” (Acts 26:28).
One example of gospel fruit from these exchanges can be seen in Philippians 4:22, “All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.”
Secondarily, Paul worked to establish the infrastructure to sustain the ever-expanding Kingdom of God by planting churches, appointing leaders in these churches and mentoring young congregations.
Paul also used his platforms before these leaders to attempt some culture shaping. This is illustrated in Paul’s discourse with Governor Felix documented in Acts 24:24–25,
“And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”
Paul got personal with Felix. Not only did Paul talk to Felix about faith in Christ, but he also addressed the personal spiritual issues of righteousness, self-control, and judgment. The spiritual condition of a leader contributes to the shaping of the culture. Virtuous leaders walk in moral authority. Moral authority is derived from walking in the power of godliness. Paul addresses that in 2 Timothy 3:5. In the context, Paul is describing the spiritual condition of Timothy’s fellow Jews in the last days of the Old Covenant. Paul warned Timothy that his contemporaries would walk in a form of godliness but not the substance of godliness. They would lack moral authority. Moral authority is a significant spiritual power, especially for leaders. This power enables leaders to fulfill their mission and to realize their vision.
Leaders who lack moral authority resort to carnal power to achieve their ends instead of spiritual power. Carnal power is a power absent of any spiritual dimension. It is a lame substitute for spiritual power. Carnal techniques of leadership include such behaviors as bullying, threatening, lying, conning, being unpredictable, vengeance, shaming, name-calling, and even physical violence.
It should go without saying that the type of governance preferred is good governance and the style of leadership preferred is virtuous leadership. Good governance and virtuous leadership create a healthy environment in which all stakeholders will thrive. Poor governance and unprincipled leadership may produce short-term results but at the expense of the health and vitality of those who have a vested interest in the group being governed.