Beyond Your Sphere

by Morris Ruddick on November 13, 2012


© Morris E. Ruddick


“So it was, when Moses held up his hand that Israel prevailed; but Moses grew weary, so Aaron and Hur supported his hands. So Joshua defeated Amalek.”
Exodus 17: 11-13

A few days ago, while in prayer, I had a most startling spiritual image. This familiar sequence of Moses, Joshua, Aaron and Hur came to mind. However, at the point when Moses had become so weary that he could no longer hold up his arms, instead of Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’ hands, I saw them stepping aside, each heading in their own direction, and then raising their arms with THEIR hands outstretched.

Aaron and Hur were leaders. They were chosen leaders close to Moses. It was Aaron and Hur with the 70 elders of Israel who accompanied Moses to the first level of the mountain where they witnessed the majesty of God with what was as sapphire under His feet (Ex 24:10). These leaders were referred to as the nobles of Israel (v. 11).

When Moses was called by the Lord to go further up the mountain to receive the commandments to teach the people, he arose to go with his assistant Joshua, instructing the elders to consult with Aaron and Hur should there be any decisions needed over disputes. Moses then proceeded into the glory of God’s presence on the top of the mountain. There he stayed forty days and nights.

Despite all their spectacular encounters with God, the leadership around Moses was imperfect and immature. Aaron not only gave heed to the soul issues of the people when they got restless during the time Moses was in God’s presence, but later he participated with their sister Miriam, the prophetess, in their own soul issues regarding “their place” of leadership under Moses’ direction! In the times that followed the battle with the Amalekites, Aaron, Hur and Miriam all became enticed with plagues of spiritual short-sightedness that challenged Moses’ authority.

Nothing has changed. There is an enemy who seduces and deceives. Today, we have been passing through critical junctures as God advances the Body into maturity. Those called as modern-day Aarons and Hurs and Miriams are failing to recognize the significance and boundaries of their own identities and callings and are slipping into the enemy’s seductive designs of spiritual myopia. It should not be so.

Not surprisingly, Jesus warned that in the time of the end that such deceptions would impact even the very elect. It’s a sign of the times, marked by subtle enticements that jump to premature conclusions, which are designed to seduce those who otherwise should be dependable, mature leaders.

Across the Body today are those who are seeking to replace ones serving in modern-day Moses roles, when their true calling is to support the Moses-types and to remain in harness until the Lord has decided that Moses’ tasks have been completed.

Sphere of Authority
A key issue targeted by this spiritual deception, among leaders striving outside their callings, is known as the sphere of authority.

The apostle Paul addresses the issue of one’s “sphere” in his second letter to the Corinthians.
“We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us.”
2 Cor 10:13

This verse describes the dynamics of one’s authority to serve as a leader. It is an authority appointed by God, an authority that has limitations to its boundaries or its sphere. Within those boundaries, one has a great deal of authority. Outside those boundaries, one is operating in weak and shifting sands and is vulnerable to backlash, deception and the creation of discord.

Operating within the boundaries of one’s authority and the sphere of their calling is vital to the outcome of decisive spiritual battles. Similarly, the impact is maximized when each role of the participants is orchestrated to SERVE the common good.

The sons of Esau (Amalek) had come to stop the advance of Israel. Aaron and Hur’s proper roles during the battle with the Amalekites served to maximize Israel’s advantage through Moses’ anointing.

It was a tipping point that could have set Israel back, but instead it changed the spiritual climate around them. It was in the hands of the leaders closest to Moses. Their role was to support the flow of power that was issued from his anointing. So it is today with those in leadership. This can either be a point of stumbling and reversals; or a time of turning into the advance that God has on the agenda.

Employment of Power
Another key issue targeted by these subtle enticements among leaders is the employment of the power of God.

When James and John asked Jesus if they should call down the fire on a group of Samaritans who rejected Him (Luke 9:55), Jesus pointedly rebuked them with the words: “You do not know what kind of spirit you are.”

Within those marked for leadership today are those who do not know what kind of spirit they are.

Spiritual leadership and the employment of spiritual power operate very differently from the way the world wields power. Self, ego, pride, ambition and offenses will spiritually short-circuit the process. When allowed to manifest, the pride and ambition and the discontent these soulish factors breed will bring results akin to the sovereign intervention of God, Who brought judgment to Aaron and Miriam in Numbers 12:4.

There is a potential that is lacking from the Body today. The world is looking for the reality of God from those known by His Name. Instead, we’ve been seduced and reduced into a band of nice people whose priorities are far too inbred and relegated to minor issues and the debating of doctrinal precepts. The standard was set in the early church (Acts 5:11) when it was said that: “Great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.”

This standard came from leaders who wielded the power of God by exercising their authority within their appropriate spheres; who in turn had the support of the leaders under them, each operating in their appropriate spheres. It was a time when the move of God was so potent that Scripture notes that believers were held in high esteem and the expectation among non-believers was such that the mere shadow of Peter passing by would bring healing to the sick (Acts 5:15)

Moses never sought the position he had. God called him at a most unlikely time while in exile, rather than when he was a prince in Egypt. In assuming the mantle, Moses understood the importance of the relationship between God’s Presence and humility. This truth is foundational to Jesus’ core message of the principles that mark the operation of the Kingdom: employing righteous power in a corrupt world.

There is a clamor taking place within prophetic circles today. Instead of leaders hearing from God for themselves, far too many peruse lists of prophecies to find the ones most to their own advantage. I am not in any way degrading true words from the Lord. However, as the momentum of God’s advance into Body maturity increases, the narrow path needed to move forward is through consecration, time in His presence and hearing the Lord within each of our proper spheres, as we serve along side the Moses-types of this day who are still in harness.

Snares that Target Leaders
The bottom-line issue is a misuse of authority among leaders due to a misalignment of spheres of authority and the employment of power. The key seductive snares creating these misalignments include: soul issues, spiritual myopia, the precepts of men, the illusion of success, and premature timing. These snares will be found to be interwoven and overlap one another.

Soul Issues. When soul issues among leaders are mixed with the distractions orchestrated by the evil one, the result will manifest in blinding diversions. Not only will this provoke short-sightedness, but will carry a loss of spiritual judgment and discernment distinguished by an inability to see the big picture.

When Moses was on the mountain, instead of Aaron’s response to the people being leadership, he acquiesced to the demands of their souls. It was a critical juncture, just as the time Aaron and Hur were called upon to uphold Moses’ hands. We are passing through a time of critical junctures; junctures requiring spirit-responses rather than soul responses. It is a time requiring a maturity of leadership simultaneously at the Moses, Aaron, Hur and Miriam levels.

Spiritual Myopia. In Numbers 12:3, noting that they also heard from God, Aaron and Miriam were sowing seeds of discord, challenging Moses’ authority. Moses’ didn’t even try to defend himself at their clamoring. It was from that stance that the Lord dramatically intervened with judgment. In this context, Moses was described as “the meekest, most humble man on the earth.”

A key point in Jesus’ Kingdom message outlines the wisdom to prevent such occurrences: “He who finds his life will lose it and he who loses his life for His sake will find it.” Jesus equated true leadership with service. Paul further admonishes that we should not think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3).

Precepts of Men. From the time God has had a people preoccupations over minor issues of doctrine have kindled disputes and division.

Recent years recount instances when the Body corporate has paid the cost when high-profile Christian leaders have fallen due to moral failures. Finger pointers have been quick with the charge of doctrinal flaws. Doctrinal precepts are foundational. However, Jesus made it clear that the path into maturity will come by the Holy Spirit leading us into Truth, based on God’s word (John 16:13).

It is the balance of Spirit and Truth then that leads us into that “rest” spoken of in Hebrews. That assumption has its premise on a leadership that has the “control” factor being of one’s spirit rather than of their soul. It is a leadership requiring each to be operating within their appropriate sphere.
“He who rules his own spirit is mightier than he who takes a city.”
Proverbs 16:32

Illusion of Success. In each of the cases of high-profile moral failures, a seduction took place long before the moral failure. It was a seduction that digressed into an illusion of success that carried the presumption of a sphere of authority and power that was NOT appointed by God for their calling.

In the matter of God’s priorities, success can be illusion. It works both ways. A few years back, a nationally respected Christian political leader was quoted as saying: “When Christians lose, they quit; when Christians win, they quit.” Success, as the world deems success is an illusion and may not bear at all on what the Lord has in the works. Moses never took himself too seriously, but rather made it his aim to get his direction from the Lord for each occasion in leading God’s people.

Premature Timing. Knowing the will of God is one thing. Getting the timing right is another. Even Moses misfired when zeal and righteous indignation provoked him to kill the Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave (Ex 2:12).

When Joseph was in prison and prophesied the wine-taster being restored to his position before Pharaoh, he sandwiched in his plea for the wine-taster to intervene for him before Pharaoh. Yet, it was of the Lord that the wine-taster forgot until two years later when Pharaoh had his dreams. If Joseph had been released prior to Pharaoh’s dreams, he would have missed the strategic purpose for which God had been preparing him. The Lord had a set-time for Joseph’s release and his full calling.

Body Maturity and the Spiritual Climate
There is a distinct connection between individuals operating within the boundaries of their sphere of authority and the spiritual climate of the Body. Body maturity and the spiritual climate surrounding the household of faith will draw the attention of the observing world. Whenever the boundaries of authority within the Body are ignored it leads to a distinct symptom of Body immaturity: disorder. When the world sees disorder and division within the Body, it will scoff and turn aside. The world is looking for a people who will demonstrate the reality of God.

In short, the bar for those called to lead the way is set much higher than that for the world because the goal is higher: to change the spiritual climate in the midst of the world. That’s the wisdom behind Jesus telling us that the path is narrow and difficult. It gives insight into why the sons of the world can be shrewder than the sons of light (Luke 16:8). We tend to be short-sighted as we major in minors.

Reaching for a goal of changing the spiritual climate in the world has to begin within the spheres of the Body being observed by the world. That’s a higher standard that calls for greater maturity. It will take wisdom and true leadership to nurture that maturity. That will involve an over-compensation in the practice of His Presence, humility and diligence in maintaining the soul discipline required of leaders.

With the prophetic, apostolic and marketplace movements, the Body is being led into increasingly greater levels of maturity, as the Spirit of the Lord conforms us to His image with the result being evidenced with unity. However, the status quo is our enemy and we can’t afford to lose the momentum of this move of the Spirit. It’s not about superstars or one-upmanship on splitting hairs over minor issues, but rather in being yielded to the Spirit with the big-picture of what God is doing, to sufficiently release His power.

This draws us to the “something more” dimension that can only come from God. As with so many other Kingdom principles, this dynamic reflects a paradox. When each one is serving in their appropriate sphere, the unified Body is exponentially enabled to exceed its boundaries; to go beyond the status quo. It’s the win-win: fulfillment for individuals; the spiritual climate change that begins from the Body; and the catalyst for the release of the Spirit and His power that ALL have been longing for.

So, as the Spirit draws us more deeply into Himself, the caution involves the presumption and enticements that come from exceeding the expanded boundaries that unity releases us into. The issue is one of leadership which reaches for the maturity to grasp and operate within the individual boundaries, the gifts and callings of its members as the Body moves forward. Jesus’ high priestly prayer (John 17:21) was for His followers to be one. Paul linked spiritual maturity with the Body operating in harmony and unity (Eph 4:14-16). The issue pivots on leaders who lead and serve as examples in the emptying of self to where it is no longer our lives we are living, but Christ who is truly being allowed to live through us.
“Solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”
Heb 5:13-6:3

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