All the King’s Men

1794544_10152532828065829_8138159133674221605_nIt is great followers that make great leaders. “To be great is to serve. To be chief is to be the slave of all,” the words of our Savior.

Anyone who wants authority must first be under authority. These are timeless principles of the Kingdom of God. For any would-be leader, you must first be a follower. To be the greatest leader, you must first be the greatest follower.

Before King David was king he was a shepherd. Lowly, forgotten, and watching someone else’s sheep.

Before he gave orders to his mighty generals he took orders from a crazy king.

Before he wrote the Psalms in the Tabernacle of the Lord he sang them before flocks of sheep.

David was the greatest king because he was the greatest follower. More than twenty times his King, King Saul tried to kill him. Yet in all things David behaved wisely. Mercifully he spared King Saul twice. David’s heart was smitten for even cutting the hem of Saul’s garment.

David was the type of soldier he wanted in his army. He exemplified courage, humility, submission, and a heart after God.

King David is remembered as one of the greatest kings of all time. From his lowly beginnings as a “ruddy” shepherd boy to his triumph over Goliath, David was truly legendary. But what if I said that his success was hardly due to him, that every monumental moment in his life was actually due to someone else? Someone else that David strategically placed in his life. The grandeur of all he accomplished was a team effort. More than how to succeed, David knew who could help him succeed. The Bible records in several passages those who were in his administration. More than 30 names are credited as “David’s Mighty Men.” David was a great leader because he had great followers. And he had great followers because he was once a great follower.

I know that there is a great emphasis on leadership, but I think we should put more thought into “followship.” Every church I have been to needs more faithful hands and feet to put the vision into action. Let us all strive to be those that serve others and help them with their God-given goals. Let us be good followers!


Drew Brattrud is Lead Pastor of Riverside Christian Assembly in Riverside, California. 

Horse Talk

HorseBy Tom Flaherty

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it…yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He waits to show you compassion.”  Isaiah 30:15;18

Last week my wife and I went with our missionaries to a horse farm where horses are used to teach spiritual truth.  Our director asked all of us to be quiet while we observed her with a horse who was unfamiliar with her.  She asked us to imagine her as God, and the horse as us and encouraged us to listen to what the Holy Spirit might teach through the experience.

She was in the middle of a circular pen set up in the arena and had a head set microphone on that allowed us to hear everything she was saying without her having to raise her voice.  The horse was then let in with her and she began speaking softly to him, but he was having none of it.  He began running around in circles ignoring her, but she kept speaking and never took her eyes off of him.

Once in a while the horse would kick or change direction or even speed up to let her know he resented being locked up in this small space with her.  She just kept speaking tenderly and waited for him to tire out.  Finally it happened.

All at once the horse stopped, went right to her, and bowed his head, letting her touch him.  She told us this was an act of surrender.  Now when she spoke and walked around the horse followed her wherever she went.

Here are some of the reflections the team gave:

1.    The circular pen was something artificial that she created for the purpose of establishing relationship with the horse. Our circumstances are like the pen.  God allows us to feel penned in only for the reason that we might come to Him, surrender, and establish relationship.

2.     Even though the horse ignored the director, she never took her eyes off of him and never stopped speaking to him.  God’s eye is on us even when we resent our circumstances and kick and snort to communicate our unhappiness to Him.  What does He do?  As the text above reads, “He waits to show you compassion.”

3.    No matter how fast the horse went in circles it wasn’t going anywhere.  We think our strength is in activity but there can be a lot of activity with no progress.  Just because we’re busy doesn’t mean we’re actually going anywhere.

4.    Horses were created to be ridden in the beautiful outdoors, not stuck in a pen.  God wants to “ride us” or have an intimate relationship where we become one with Him.  The sooner we embrace this purpose, the sooner the adventure of where He will take us will begin.

5.    It was amazing how quickly everything changed when the horse decided to surrender.  It stopped on a dime, went to the middle, and decided to submit instead of fight.  All the prodigal had to do was come home.  All we need to do is repent and rest in Him.  He’s waiting for us to get tired of doing it on our own, so we will return and He can have compassion on us.

Tom Flaherty is the Lead Pastor of City Church in Madison, WI.

The Rudder

RudderBy Tom Flaherty

In the spring of 2009 the woman leading our weekly prayer meeting requested prayer because the burden of leading was heavy on her.  She was in charge because she was a known intercessor and I knew I wasn’t.  Early one morning while praying for her, I received an impression of a large ship with a small rudder.  A sentence came into my mind: “Lead the church from the prayer meeting.”  With this came an immediate understanding of three things:

1. I had been trying to lead the church from Sunday mornings to that point.

2. Because of this I was leading the church politically – through words – instead of spiritually.

3. The large ship represented the church; the small, unseen rudder, the prayer meeting.  God was asking me to take my place as the leader of the prayer meeting.

From that time until this I have tried to lead our prayer meetings.  We started telling all who came to our membership classes that we consider the prayer meeting the most important gathering of the week.

Our prayer times aren’t very impressive.  We worship; we often open the mic up for people to pray or give words that God has put on their hearts; we usually have a prayer focus, and at some time during the night (6:30-8) whoever is speaking the coming Sunday gets prayed for.  Yet it’s the prayer meeting that gives me confidence God is in all the other ministries at church including Sunday mornings.

Jesus said: “My house shall be a house of prayer” (Luke 19:46). Until we’ve prayed, we should do nothing.  Once we’ve prayed, we should only go forward as God directs.  This is true of a church, but it’s also true for individuals.  We are the house God lives in today. (2 Cor. 6:16)

So what’s the rudder in your life?  What is the underlying motivation for all you do?  Is it money?  Fun?  Selfish ambition?  Family?  Ministry?

What’s the rudder for your ministry?

The same Jesus who turned the tables over in the temple knocks on our door today asking for our permission to enter.  He is still filled with zeal to make us a house of prayer but has chosen to wait for us to make prayer a priority in our lives.

In Revelation 3:20 Jesus is seen knocking on the door of His own church.  I think He’s still knocking today.  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”


Tom Flaherty is the Lead Pastor of City Church in Madison, WI.

Interdependent Dependents

Image by K. LathamBy Sam Snyder

The other day I was teaching my son how to use a wheelbarrow while I was moving a big dirt pile with my kids. He wasn’t quite tall enough or strong enough to make it all of the way by himself so I walked behind him carrying enough weight to balance the load and keep him going so that he could learn. He made it all the way, but he knew that it was only because I helped him that he was able to do what he did, not once did he think that he had done that all by himself.

Our lives are similar: God is behind us carrying the weight and keeping things steady, yet sometimes instead of recognizing His presence and His work in our lives we think we are the ones doing it without anyone’s help! We find ourselves in a culture that values independence, probably to a fault. We just celebrated Independence Day in United States and it’s great to be independent from the governments of other countries and to experience many freedoms we have today, but for many that independence has become an independence from God and from other people. There are many people “doing what is right in their own eyes” as long as they feel that they don’t “hurt” anyone (which is a pretty subjective measurement if there ever was one). They go through life without acknowledging God or giving Him thanks (Romans 1:18-32). Being surrounded by this it is easy for US to forget that we are God’s children and that we are called to dependent on Him!

I’m pretty sure that’s the type of relationship that Jesus modeled for us. Jesus lived His life IN Dependence not in Independence. He went so far as to say that He only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). That’s a deep level of connectedness and dependence! The kind of dependence that a child has on a parent as their dependent or that the body has on the head to function. That’s why this new community, that is the church, is often talked about in the New Testament as a Body or a Family.

In Ephesians 4 Paul wrote about the importance of unity and interconnectedness within this body, the Church, which we call the Body of Christ. Each part works together to grow the whole body to maturity, connected in a deep unity rather than divided:

Ephesians 4:15-16 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Paul uses a picture of interdependence in using the picture of a body growing up and building itself up as each part does its work. So Christ is the head and we are as dependent on Him as any part of a body is dependent on a head. We are meant to not only be dependent on Him but we are intended to be interdependent with each other, as no part of our body can fully do what it is meant to do without the cooperation and interconnectedness of the rest of the body.

Image by Jeremy PiehlerWe do need God and we do need each other. We are called be God’s dependents as His children and we also need every single member of the Body of Christ to be who God has created them to be and do what God has called them to do! God has knit us together to be inter-dependent with the His Body, with His Family! Dependent on Him and inter-dependent with each other, not to be independent from Him and from each other. This is true on a personal level for each of the people called to minister in the local expression of The Church we are working with, but it is also true in the greater expression of the Body of Christ as a Fellowship of Churches and in connection with the other expressions of the Body of Christ in our communities we live in and around the world. We need every part to do its work together with the others so that the WHOLE Body can grow and mature (Ephesians 4).

Are there ways that you have been living your life independent of God or without acknowledging Him as God or giving Him thanks?

Are there ways that you have functioned in life and in ministry believing that you didn’t really need the other personalities, giftings, cultures, or parts of the body of Christ within your local church body, your local community, or our Fellowship of Churches?

How can you value every individual member in the congregation God has called you to lead and help connect them to the rest of the local church Body?

How can you connect in greater ways with the other ministries in the Body of Christ to advance God’s Kingdom together?

How can we grow in missions by working together? How can we grow as leaders by working together?

How can we grow in our ministry impact by working together and learning from each other?