Within Acts 29, a lot of leaders talk about the leadership lens of prophet, priest and king. The idea of using the offices of Jesus to talk about how people see things, how they best work and relate to each other. At Revolution, I find this to be a helpful way to know what a leader is like, what I can expect from them and how they will react in a situation.
The broad overview of these are:
- Prophet: Tends to be big picture, visionary, bible person. They love to talk about where things are going. They love reading, preaching, theology. They only need a verse to be right. They ask a lot of “why” questions. In preaching, they love doctrine and can get lost in the weeds. They will preach from a letter whenever possible or throw in some Old Testament history or wrath of God just to keep everyone a little scared. They will take 6 months to preach through Jude or Philemon and will happily spend 10 weeks on 3 verses in Romans to make sure everyone gets it.
- Priest: Tends to be shepherding, caring. They want to make sure that everyone is being taken care of, cared for and is connected. They worry a lot about feelings and how people feel about something. They ask a lot of “who” questions. In preaching, they love stories. They love to preach from the gospels and talk about how things feel. They will sacrifice doctrine to talk about how something feels. If they do say something difficult to hear or are confrontational in a sermon, they will quickly say something to soften the blow and give a verbal hug to the congregation.
- King: Tends to think strategy and steps. They help to move a vision to reality. Often, they are very organized, detailed and financially minded. They ask a lot of “what and how” questions. In preaching, they love logic, things that add up at the end and steps. They love steps. A sermon is not complete without a next step (or 15), every point starting with the same letter, but it is clear.
These are just broad strokes.
On a leadership team and in a church, all are needed. I am high on the prophet scale with some king thrown in. I need priests around me to make sure that everyone is cared for, but to also challenge me in how I am shepherding and caring for people. I need kings to help make my visions happen. I often walk into a conversation, listen, throw out some vision ideas, get people pumped and then walk away. I need a king to walk behind me and say, “Okay, that one thing will never happen, but here’s how we can do those two things.”
While these lens help to live out of our strengths, they also make it easy to sin.
Broadly, I’ll hear leaders say, “I’m not very kingly” as a way to excuse their disorganization or financial carelessness. Or, “I’m not very priestly” as an excuse to not meet with someone or do any counseling. Or, “I’m not much of a prophet” as a way to be wishy washy in their theology or have no vision for their church. All followers of Jesus are called to be like Jesus, which means we are to be growing as prophets, priests and kings (Numbers 11:29; Acts 2:16 – 21; Romans 12:1 – 2, 15:14; Ephesians 2:6; Hebrews 4:14 – 16; 1 John 2:20, 27; Revelation 1:5-6).
Each lens though, can lead you to sin (and often you will not see these as sins because it is how you are wired). Here’s how:
- Prophet: You are always posting your opinion on Facebook, twitter or your blog about gay marriage, eating, diets, vaccine’s, adoption, games. All you need is a verse or a scientific study and you are good to go. You are determined to win and be right, because, well “you have a verse.” You can miss the people because you are so infatuated with your vision and end up not caring for the people God has sent you to care for or the people who are supposed to help accomplish the mission because you are so focused on “out there.” The prophet also tends to be pretty legalistic and loves rules. You look at a priest and wonder why he wastes so much time on meetings and can’t confront anyone. You look at a king and get frustrated that he can’t see the big picture, he only wants to talk about the steps to get there or why something isn’t possible and you question his faith and salvation.
- Priest: You are often willing to sacrifice doctrine, holy living and confrontation in an effort to keep the relationship. Your first priority often is the relationship and the person and will let them keep walking in sin as long everyone feels good. You have a tendency to burn out because you can’t say no to a person or a meeting. Every request that comes in is an urgent thing that must be handled now. Every crisis you jump at. You tell yourself you are needed, that you can save this person or fix that situation and will sacrifice your health, your marriage, your kids, their heart (because you won’t confront them) all to save someone or a relationship. You struggle to trust that God can save and fix them and are content to just do it yourself (God is really busy any way). You look at a prophet and wonder if he has a heart or a soul the way he talks about people. You look at a king and wonder how she can be so organized and can become frustrated at how everything has to fit on the bottom line or fit into a budget line.
- King: You tend to think about the bottom line and ask how everything affects the bottom line. You are willing to sacrifice visions if they cost too much or relationships if take away from other endeavors. You are organized, detailed and a rule keeper and consequently if something is messy or doesn’t fit in a box, you skip it. This includes relationships. You strive to keep things in order, so new ideas or things that seem new or out in left field are off the table. You look at a priest and wonder why they are so disorganized, always late. You look at a prophet and wonder why he can never come up with a detail to his plan.
As I said, a leader and follower of Jesus is to grow in all areas to be more like Jesus. A healthy leadership team needs to have all three represented to push on each other and to keep the church functioning in all areas. But our blind spots as an individual or church can keep us from being who God created us to be.