Spiritual Leadership: Acting as Prophet, Priest & King

Dinner Table

Being a Pastor is one of the most rewarding things I have ever had the privilege to do.  It is second only to the privilege of being the Head of my Household, having the opportunity to pour my Life into my wife and children.  But though it is fun, it is far from easy; for in Yeshua we walk the path of Prophet, Priest and King (Ephesians 4:11-13).

What are prophets, priests and kings?

In ancient Israel a prophet was an individual whom Adonai chose to speak for Him.  The prophets’ responsibility was to proclaim the mind of Adonai, less often a series of apocalyptic visions and more often an exposition of what was already revealed in the Torah.  Likewise a priest was an individual whom Adonai chose to mediate between Himself and the People on the Peoples’ behalf.  The priests’ responsibility was to maintain the purity of devotion by identifying with the average person in compassion and humility.  Finally, a king was an individual whom Adonai chose to administrate the temporal affairs of the community.  The kings’ responsibility was to execute the Torah in public life, to ensure that civil society remained a civil society.

The Burning Bush

Prior to king Saul, from Moses to Samuel the Judges of Israel acted in each of these roles to a certain degree, though none as fully as Moses who was the first Covenant-bearer for the Nation-state of Israel; but with the advent of the kings these three responsibilities were divided in the nation of Israel as a kind of separation of powers.  And yet there was a lingering promise that in the Last Days Adonai would raise up a prophet like Moses, a Messiah who would speak for Him, Mediate for the People, and reign over the Earth with justice and mercy (Deuteronomy 18:15).

So what does it mean that the Ekklesia is a Community wherein everyone is a prophet, priest and king?

It means that each and every person who has come under the New Covenant of Yeshua the Messiah has now taken on the role and responsibility of speaking for Adonai, interceding with Him on behalf of others, and managing the resources which they have received from Him according to His revealed will.  In this sense every person is meant to be a Spiritual Leader: speaking the Truth in Love, Loving the broken in spirit and in truth, and practicing faithful Stewardship of all their resources.

Team Rowing

So how does this dynamic of being Prophet, Priest and King affect how one leads?

Here a story from the Book of Numbers can be quite instructive (Numbers 17).   Moses has been dealing with the fact that some of the Levites, those chosen by Adonai to serve as priests for the Nation-state of Israel, felt that they had gotten a raw deal.  Needless to say their rebellion is a constant source of contention, but Adonai keeps dealing with it until finally, He tells Moses that He is sick of it and that He is just going to kill all of them.  To this however, Moses response is unexpected.  Instead of saying “its about time, I am so sick of their mess”, he seeks to intercede on the behalf of the People.  In the end Adonai honors his intercession and the People are saved from themselves.

Moses recognized that he had to walk out the three-fold roles in an integrative balance.  For the Prophetic role alone may bring about fidelity to the rules but not necessarily fidelity to Adonai.  Likewise the Priest role alone may bring about a compassionate community but not necessarily a loving one.  And the Executive role alone may bring about a well organized machine, but it won’t cultivate a life-giving organism.  For Domination is not the same as Redemption; Consolation is not the same as Reconciliation; and Regulation is not the same as Restoration.

This is so much the opposite of the way the world would have us believe effective leadership acts… and tellingly unlike much of how ministry is done at present in the American Church.

Worldly Leadership Model

Generally we expect the Pastor to walk out the role of the Priest, leading the People in worship and prayer, holding their hand like a hospice chaplain. At times we endure the Pastor paying homage to the role of the Prophet, proclaiming the Word of YHVH and calling the People to holiness.  Increasingly however we demand that the Pastor walk in the role of King, to be an effective executive – a kind of political salesman calling people to purchase our wares and manipulating them to accomplish our agendas.

Adonai’s ways and thoughts are not ours.  Where He sacrifices we tend to look to conquer; where He invites we tend to look to control; where He loves we tend to look to use; where He gives we tend to look to consume; where He cultivates we tend to look to manipulate. This must change.

If we wish to be true Spiritual leaders we must learn to think and act as Yeshua does, as Prophet, Priest & King.

Jesus Washing His Disciples Feet

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.  Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

~ Ephesians 4:11-13 ~