Here’s a truism that has some significant implications. The principle I will explain here is the very reason why Susan and I did not ask a man of God to help us recently. This principle explains why you are often standing in the shallow water, unable to upgrade yourself into more meaningful things.
You can rise no higher than the one who promotes you. That’s why you cannot promote yourself. Self-promotion gives you sovereignty over next to nothing at all.
The extent of our own authority and sovereignty is directly related to the extent of the sovereignty of the person whose authority we are under.
I created a silly analogy to bring this to focus. Forgive me if you’ve heard me share this before. Imagine a production manager noticing two men walking around his factory taking notes on what they see. He calls these two men to his office and asks them what they are doing. It turns out that both men are making notes on how dirty the factory is and what health risks might be raised by the clutter.
When the production manager asks the first man, “Who told you to do what you are doing?” it turns out that his friend, the janitor, has often complained about the health risks associated with clutter and dirt, so the man decided on his own initiative to walk around the factory and make his own assessment.
Now, does that man have authority to be doing what he is doing? No! The man has entered the building without authority and engaged in a process that only he, himself, has assigned. His only contact with the organisation is through the janitor. The production manager promptly tells that man to get out of his building and not to come back.
The second man, however, explains that he was contacted by the Managing Director who instructed him to do an independent survey of the clutter and to report directly to the Managing Director, himself. While this second man is doing exactly the same thing as the first, it is not the action that is important but the authority under which the action is taking place. The second man, under the direct authority of the Managing Director, cannot be told to leave the building. He has a level of personal sovereignty in the situation which derives directly from the authority of the Managing Director.
Do you get the principle then? Your personal authority and sovereignty is directly derived from the person whose authority you are operating under. You can rise no higher than the one who promotes you.
OK, that’s my starting point. Now let me show you how that impacts the way I operate. Let’s say, for example, there is a hot prophet in town. Everyone is flocking to his meetings hoping to get a word from the Lord. Some people are making personal appointments or trying to catch the prophet when he is in the elevator or eating breakfast, in the expectation of getting a word from God through the prophet.
All those who look to God speaking through the prophet limit themselves. They are declaring that they do not have the right or privilege of receiving directly from God. They make themselves servants to the prophet, subject to the prophet’s anointing and grace. This is not where God has put them, but where they have put themselves.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that it is wrong to get a word from a prophet. I am saying that to look to the prophet puts you in a lesser place than the prophet.
For example, imagine two men who both need wisdom from God. One decides to go to all the meetings where the prophet is speaking, and even to carry the prophet’s bags, drive him to and from the meetings and explain all about his needs to the prophet, in order to ensure getting a word from God. The other man simply commits himself to God and makes no effort to go to the meetings or to meet the prophet.
On the last day of the prophet’s visit he gives prophetic wisdom to the man who is hounding him for a word. He also gets an impression to pass on a word to the man who did not attend the meetings. Both men receive a word from the Lord, from the same prophet. Both men have their needs met through a word from the Lord. One looked to the prophet and the other looked to the Lord.
Next month both men equally need a word from the Lord again. Situations have arisen that put them both under pressure to gain divine wisdom. The first man desperately seeks out the man of God. That prophet is now travelling overseas and so the only way to catch him is to head off to find him. The second man simply repeats what he did the first time. He prays to God and commits his need for wisdom to God. He is confident that God will find a way to get the wisdom to him, even if he is not in the right place at the right time.
The first man in that made-up scenario is limited in his personal sovereignty and authority. He cannot confidently hear from God. He cannot wait on God. He needs a human agency to deliver God’s wisdom to him. The second man operates in a broader sphere. He goes directly to God and expects God to be his source and provider.
Some time back Susan suggested that we ask a particular man of God to pray for a situation we were working through. We had questions about which way to move forward. It was possible that this man could give us God’s wisdom. For a moment I was inclined to ask for that help, but I quickly considered the spiritual implications. If I go, hat in hand, to another man for God’s guidance, I subjugate my own personal sphere to the limitations of men.
Now, you need to know that God most often speaks to me through human agency. God uses the preaching of the pastors I sit under, the input of prophets, song-writers, authors and so on, to answer the questions I bring to Him. I am not independent of human agency. I am dependent on God. He can then choose which agency He will use. When He does so, I am receiving from Him, via the human channel He uses at that time. But I am never then dependent on that preacher, song-writer, author, or prophet. I am only ever dependent on the Lord. He is my source.
Then, being under the direct authority of the Lord God, Himself, I optimise and maximise my own personal sovereignty and authority.
Consider this further application. In the Catholic Church the members are required to access God via the confessional. They must go through one who stands in their place (which is what the word ‘vicar’ means – the vicarious one). This decimates the personal authority and sovereignty of the worshippers. They can only operate within the authority assigned them by the Catholic Church. The Protestant world, with its emphasis on personal worship based on personal relationship with God and response to personal conscience, has generated many more examples of people who have gone out in God’s name to change the world.
Any pastor who seeks to control his congregation and require that they only do things which he or she approves is robbing the congregation of personal sovereignty and divine authority. That works well for building the pastor’s own kingdom, but it’s ineffective for building the Kingdom of God.
I pray that God promote you to the highest levels of personal sovereignty and authority, not by you being your own boss and walking in rebellion, but by you submitting to God and looking only to Him, while you allow the servants of the Lord to be His channel of input into your life.