Leaders Require Followers – The Right Kind

From North’s Leadership and Discipleship, Part 10: Leaders Require Followers

Representation

It was not simply that God promised to impose negative sanctions in history against those who refused to obey Elijah. God also pointed out that there were 7,000 people remaining in the land who had not bowed the knee to Baal, 7,000 pairs of lips that had not kissed him (l Ki. 19:18). That meant that Elijah had followers. They were not visible to him. Even as a prophet, he had not known that they were there. But God had reserved unto Himself 7,000 covenant-keepers who had not been so intimidated by the prevailing culture that they would break their covenant through a public act of covenant renewal with a false god.

They were Elijah’s followers, yet he did not know they were there. How could they be followers if their leader was unaware of their existence? Because of the representative aspect of the covenant: point two. What Elijah did in public they would honor in private. When he challenged the false priests, word went out. God’s prophet had publicly defeated the court priests. This confirmed Elijah as the leader of an invisible army of 7,000. They could not hear him directly, but his representative act of defiance became their act of defiance. He confirmed publicly before the nation what they were doing privately: refusing to bend the knee to a false god.

The biblical doctrine of representation means that a person can be a leader even though he does not have visible followers. What he does in public represents those who share his faith and his vision. Tyrants understand this, which is why they seek to break the resistance of known enemy leaders. They impose threats, torture, and other sanctions in an attempt to break the will of the leader. They understand that if the leader publicly breaks, this will undermine the will to resist among many of his followers. Tyrants may not know who these followers are, but they know that surrender by a leader is a representative act. A portion of his followers will leave the field of battle. They, too, will surrender — not in some public act of contrition, but inwardly. This is what the tyrant seeks.

Christians in leadership positions must be a lot more careful than pagans in similar positions. You will be judged more harshly by men, and – even more important – by God.

This fact is why there are very few Christian leaders of note… and the continual degradation of Christianity since roughly 1660.

But God demands that a Christian society, with Christian views of justice and law (a.k.a. NOT secularistic, statist, Islamic, or any other inferior form of justice) cover the world.

Moreover: it is not to be some kind of centralized universal empire (like the Caliphate the Muslims seek, or the secularist/humanist United Nations, or some Darwinian, genetically-grounded Eugenistic Global Reich/Brave New World), but a multitude of independent Christian nations – with every nation with a population of less than a million, preferably, to preserve liberty – each doing its level best to uphold the will of God in public as well as private.

What God wants and commands, Godly men must provide in devout obedience. Cowardly men of the Church have no interest in this – obviously – which means that brave men of the church must do the work instead.

Screening Disciples

The disciple must be disciplined: first by the mentor or the mentor’s organization; ultimately by inner restraint. Self-discipline is the crucial aspect of discipleship. No organization can afford to police everything under its authority. If it tries, it will meet resistance. Many will depart.

The self-disciplined person is attracted to even more self-disciplined people. The example of near-total dedication becomes a major recruiting factor. The better the example, the better the quality of the disciples. Good men attract good men.

When good men become successful, however, they also attract power-seekers. Power-seekers want a shortcut to power. They want to bypass the long process of subordination. Every successful organization must find ways to screen out such people. The primary biblical screening factors are confession, tithing, and service. The practice of monastic orders of having initiates do the grunt work for a year or more is wise: until a man is willing to do the lowest-prestige tasks, he is not safe to place in a position of great responsibility. He learns to serve from the bottom up. He learns what it is to subordinate himself. Subordination to God is the primary model: confession and tithing. Subordination to the recruiting agency is the secondary model.

As Christendom is reinvorgated and blossoms, it will grow in power on earth as well as in heaven. Earthly-minded power-seekers will start to move in, as well, with lots and lots of pious God-talk.

The less centralized power there is, the less interested collectivist-minded tyrants will be in positions of power. This is an excellent reason for lots and lots of decentralization.

The church offers to every man a marvelous opportunity: membership in an organization that will survive beyond eternity (Rev. 21). Jesus spoke of treasures laid up in heaven for the individual. But building up these personal heavenly treasures has effects in the future. The gospel changes lives. Convert by convert, the adopted family of God extends its influence to the end of time and beyond. The fulfillment of this promise of continuity is unique to the church. God’s word does not return to Him void. This means that it does not return to Him institutionally void. The healing work of the gospel transforms culture.

This healing is something we most definitely need – and something the welfare state is completely uninterested in.

(As it will be utterly bankrupted in a few decades, that’s just as well.)

Eschatology

Succession or continuity is a desire in the heart of every man. The dominion impulse relies on it. Men want to believe that the good that they do in history will extend beyond their death. But modern Christianity denies such a hope to covenant-keepers. Worse; it affirms such a hope for covenant-breakers. Both premillennialism and amillennialism teach that with respect to anything beyond the narrow confines of the institutional church, good will be overcome by evil. Compound growth is said to apply to evil, not to good. “Leaven in the Bible always refers to evil,” we are assured, and leaven symbolizes growth. Both of these eschatologies affirm what Shakespeare had Mark Antony say at Caesar’s funeral: “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” This is the heart of pessimillennial social theory.

[…]

Every good work by every Christian in history must culminate a huge loss: an inheritance stolen by evil-doers. Pessimillennialism re-writes Proverbs 13:33b: the wealth of the just is laid up for the sinner.

[…]

It is postmillennialism alone that insists that the good works of covenant-keepers can and will compound in history, overcoming the compound growth of covenant-breakers. Succession is therefore not a threat to the church but a long-term benefit. Hanko was correct almost a generation ago: “In the first place, many who strongly advocate Christian social involvement almost always fall into the error of post-millennialism. That is the error of teaching that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is realized here in this present world by a slow but steady process of social, economic and political evolution” (Christian’s Social Calling, pp. 1-2). He used the humanist’s beloved word evolution in order to tar and feather postmillennialism. Had he substituted the Christian term reformation, he would have called attention to the psychologically unpleasant reality of amillennialism: it denies the eschatological possibility of successful Christian reformation – in state, or society.

It takes destructive men within the church to truly hold back her power…

…but for only a time. God’s will shall not be defied forever, or even all that long.

Reformation

The ideal of Christendom rests on the doctrine of the ascension. Jesus not only rose from the dead; He ascended to the right hand of God in heaven. He rules over the universe. All power in heaven and earth has been transferred to Him (Matt. 25:18-20). Through his ascension His church can have faith in succession – not a succession of defeat but succession of reformation.

The Protestant Reformation cut short Northern Europe’s decline into Renaissance paganism and debauchery. Then it was overcome by several powerful forces: Protestant scholasticism (Aristotelian rationalism) within the camp, Enlightenment rationalism inside and outside the camp, Erastian politics (the king’s religion rules the realm), political pluralism (no covenantal oath to God to maintain citizenship), and in our era, Darwinism. But the Reformation did save Europe from self-destruction.

Those who view Luther and Calvin as merely ecclesiastical reformers miss the larger story: they were cultural reformers who transformed Northern Europe. We cannot understand German culture apart from the unifying power of Luther’s translation of the Bible and his hymns. We cannot correctly understand the origins of capitalism without understanding Calvin’s theology of self-government and self-discipline. We cannot understand modern democratic politics apart from Book IV, Chapter 20 of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, which sets forth the doctrine of the right of political revolution when led by lesser magistrates.

The heirs of the Protestant Reformation, when they know anything about this formative era, fall to understand the magnitude of what the Reformers accomplished. Worse; they resent the implication that every generation of Christians is called by God to extend that comprehensive Reformation. This thought reminds them of the huge responsibility that belongs to the church in every era. Protestants and Lutherans have preferred to circumscribe the Reformation’s accomplishments because they have preferred to circumscribe their personal responsibility as transformers of culture. God has granted them their desire, sending leanness into their souls.

A generation is rising within this rotting and aging secularist culture… a generation that will find the promises of pleasure and ease distinctly unsatisfying.

Especially as the welfare state collapses around them… and there is no family to fall back on.

As the Messianic State fails in its claim as universal healer – or even in its ability to restrain crime – a different Messiah will be sought.

Conclusion

Leaders require followers. To attract reliable followers, leaders must be able to promise benefits to those who will commit their lives to the extension of Christendom. Then they must follow with the proof. The best proof is long-term personal success in the face of a culture that rejects what we believe. The second-best proof is a string of disciples who have gone and done likewise. Men commit to stories. God gave us stories of commitment in the Bible. These stories are still relevant today.

Followers must not be regaled with stories of easy successes. They must understand the words of Francis Parkman, author of The Oregon Trail: “He who would do some great things in this short life must apply himself to work with such a concentration of force as, to idle spectators who live only to amuse themselves, looks like insanity.” Understanding, they must then commit. And then they must follow through on their commitment. Putting their hand to the plow, they must not turn back. This is the example the remnant requires: leaders who follow through.

Winners must actually commit, and pay the price to complete the race.

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