By Dr. Stephen Phinney
Provoking patriarchs are leaders who attempt to train their followers in the admonition (earnest rebuke) of their own ideas. You ask, “What is wrong with that?” If we train our followers to be like us, they will commit the same sins as us. We need to be training followers in an image that is incorruptible and eternal--to replicate a life that is flawless and perfect.
Leaders who try to mold others into their own image provoke anger in their students. Most patriarchs who do this oftentimes wonder why there is no long-term change in their subordinates. The image of man changes according to the wind of the day. God, on the other hand, is unchanging and unwavering.
God’s created beings intuitively know they are to be functioning in His image. When we force mankind to operate in an image other than God’s, we (as leaders) provoke them to wrath. If today’s patriarchs molded themselves after the image of the Father, it would carry a certain guarantee to train up followers to be effective in daily living.
Jesus used a style (His Life) that encouraged followers to be like His Father. Even Jesus was not able to do anything in and of Himself. He replicated the actions of His Father. When His followers saw Him doing something, they saw the Father (John 14:9). Now, we can replicate Jesus’ actions safely. Since the proof of the love is in showing and revealing what the leader is doing (and why), we can only assume patriarchs need to give a clear understanding of all their actions. Secretive leaders are manipulative leaders.
Patriarchs, who have a dependent relationship on Christ, can then be a foundation for followers to build upon. By using this model, patriarchs will not be provoking wives, children, and/or employees to anger. They will be unveiling Christ--a safe foundation.
Non-provoking leaders exhort without error, impurity, and/or deceit. Since they know they have been approved by God and entrusted with the Gospel, they speak not as man-pleasers, but as God-pleasers. For they lead in like manner-–not expecting others to follow them, but to follow the life of Christ within them. They lead through “pre-approval” and not pushing followers to “prove themselves” before being granted approval. Pre-approval means “grace.”
Grace-based leadership means avoiding flattering speech that manipulates; rather, they assert their authority for the purpose of developing emerging followers and leaders of Christ.
Grace-based patriarchs prove themselves to be gentle, like nursing mothers, who tenderly care for their followers. They have found affection for others while imparting truth. Truth is harsh, which is why the patriarch needs to be as gentle as possible.
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Patriarchs Who Provoke. Copyright © 2013 IOM America. Permission to reproduce for educational purposes. Please keep author’s name intact.
All Scriptures, unless otherwise stated, are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.