Spirit of Absalom in the Modern Church
The spirit of Absalom is alive and well in the modern church. In this article, we look at the traits of such usurpers in today's churches.
I. Absalom Identified in the Modern Church
II. Absalom Should Not Lead a Church
III. Only Jesus Christ Chases Pretenders Away
IV. Choosing Widely Means Church Chaos
V. Other Unbiblical Leadership Selection Criteria
Absalom Identified in the Modern Church
As the title implies, those who are not God’s Man, and are yet leading His Flock, are likened unto one of the sons of David: Absalom. To be franker, such false leaders are in SIN. Unseasoned Believers, and those who lead them, are chaos waiting to happen.
Anytime something is seized by force, absent the blessing of God, the spirit of Absalom is involved. Being the son of the King (David) gave Absalom the sort of access required to influence the minds of those closest to his father.
Over a length of time, we know that Absalom seduced these leaders away from David (2nd Samuel 15:1-4):
The same is true in the modern church. Servants to the Man of God, assistant preachers, enjoy such access. This is too often used to secure a future “pastorate” rather than serving the man God set in authority.
In the city where I live, this happened several years ago. A would-be servant of the Pastor arrived at a church and like Absalom, fueled fires! The Pastor was removed by the people and ‘local Absalom’ is now the new Pastor.
The church sent an invitation for me to attend his install as the new leader. I shock my head, mocked their demonic choice, and refused attending. The scripture used as the theme for the install (Jeremiah 3:15):
What is interesting is “church people” refuse to read the fourteen (14) verse leading to #15. It only promises this when the people return from their backsliding. Therefore, a disobedient congregation is incapable of choosing a “man after God’s heart.”
It must be noted however, that as with Saul, God gave these people exactly what they wanted. As a body, their “death warrant” (spiritually) has been signed. The church will cease to exist when this generation passes away.
Here are items to review in recognition of the Absalom spirit in your church:
Absalom made himself appear impressive despite the lack of God commanded ordination
He was intentional about inserting himself into a place without the leader’s permission
Absalom created a position to fulfill his need to be useful (standing in the gate)
The desire of his heart originated from the need for status and power
The people began to give Absalom honors reserved for God’s choice as leader
Over time, Absalom stole what was meant for God’s Man by misdirecting people’s attention from obedience to Godly Leadership.
When these ungodly examples are reviewed, it is apparent God was not with Absalom. Neither is He with those pulpiteers stealing what God has for someone else! Absalom succeeded David (at a much later date) for a short time, but we can see exactly how a ‘Successor of Sin’ can interject themselves into the fellowships and hijack a Pastorate.
The model Absalom used provides an exact blueprint on how modern church splits occur. At the root of this is the sin of ‘control’ and ungodly ambition. As Elisha did with Gehazi, church leaders must “let their heart go” with ‘usurpers’, and God will reveal their intentions.
If you do not, your church will be split or, as happened locally, you will be voted out and replaced by “Absalom.” ,
Absalom Should Not Lead a Church
As with corporate functions, especially the Pastor, leaders have taken on a worldly model of choosing a successor. As we spoke of earlier, Pastoral Selection Committees are sometimes set up to choose the next leader but are they equipped enough?
When Christ called His Disciples, He intentionally chose the disappointed, determined, and disliked. What is more, Jesus called, loved, ate with, and congregated around people who seemingly had no qualifications to be in His presence.
In every sense of the phrase, they were religious neophytes in leadership (novices).
I mean, even Pharisees called Him “Rabbi” which meant He was a recognized religious teacher. By the Law of Moses they followed, sinners were not to be around the “righteous.”
One of the first people to publicly preach Jesus, post ministry launch, was a broken, repetitively married woman (John 4: 15-18):
This was the so-called “woman at the well.” This woman led an entire town to Jesus Christ! The point is the Pastor’s successor will not appear as these un-discipled search committees believe they should.
Consider the makeup of the two (2) most prominent Apostles in the New Testament, Peter and Paul.
Unlearned and Ignorant
No religious education or credentials
Fishermen and sinner
Yet Jesus used him as the Apostle to the Jews.
Was the son of a Pharisee and a Pharisee himself
Made ‘Slaughter’ of the church according to scripture
Educated and credentialed, in his own words ‘above many my equal.’
Yet Jesus sent him to be the Apostle to the Gentiles?
Read through the above bullet point again and meditate on this thought; it would have made a lot more sense for JESUS to send Peter to the Gentiles than Paul. Peter, like them, was largely ignored for lack of “credentials” even though Jewish.
He certainly, unlike Paul, wasn’t an insider and could have been impressive to the Gentiles as such.
I can hear his attention getting message now: “Forget the Jewish Religion! I, like you, are an outcast. Jewish Leaders look down their noses at me as do they with you. This means I can relate to your struggles!”
What a revolutionary Peter could have been. The crowds would have been “moved” by this poor outcast preaching a revolutionary message on behalf of God.
On the flip side, Paul, a former Pharisees, would have been more effective with the Jews than Peter, right? He could have argued, point by point, the Law of Moses better than Peter because he was educated in the Jewish Religion.
Further, who could have made the case for Jesus as Messiah, according to the Law of Moses, then a former Pharisee?
Truly are the words of scripture fulfilled (Isaiah 55:8-9):
What makes sense to us, is foolishness to God!
However, Jesus sent these two (2) men in opposite directions from something that makes “more sense” to us. Imagine a hospital psychologist, and a dishwasher.
It would make sense to put the psychologist to work in a hospital and the dishwasher in a restaurant. The job matches their skill, right? NO! In the Kingdom, the psychologist washes dishes and the dishwasher works in a hospital.
Neither person having the skills necessary to be successful as we understand it. However, Jesus makes up the difference!
Peter and Paul were positioned, by Jesus, in places where their former skills had little relevance on the power of the message.
The point is not to belittle any with education, but to encourage “called” leaders to recognize the blindness of God's people. Like the world, they match "resumes" up with qualifications that have nothing to do with Holy Ghost anointing.
These people select the wrong men, with the wrong spirit, and get the wrong results. As scripture indicates on this wise: “My (God’s) people LOVE to have it so!”
Only Jesus Christ Chases Pretenders Away
Absalom, being the son of King David, was allowed to remain in David’s inner-circle. Just because someone calls themselves a preacher and shows up at the church, never means they should be allowed to dwell in your leadership.
Rejecting a lying usurper is not lack of grace rather the ultimate form of it.
We preach the scripture: "God disciplines those He loves" yet refuse to be the vessel of such discipline when positioned to be so.
In the name of Jesus, when it is time to tell your Absalom to “be gone Satan”, do so with power and great glory!
You are charged, as Pastor, to do that which will seem outrageous and offensive to the Sheep. If you are listening to God, through the Holy Spirit, why continue to allow Absalom to sit in the gate?
In my years of Pastoring, one thing is evident: leaders often fail to “move” to avoid “necessary” confrontation with Sheep. God has provided you the “staff of a shepherd” to lead, not be led BY them.
Just like sheep of the animal Kingdom, these are DUMB and can’t care for themselves! Had God not opened His Word to you and I, our condition would be the same!
Don’t forget how Jesus explained the difference to leaders (His Disciples) Matt. 13:10-11:
They don’t know what is best for them and are we much better of as Preachers?
Characteristics of a sheep;
No natural defense
Will eat poisoned plants if the Shepherd doesn’t lead them to the healthy pastures
Unable to make decisions besides crying out when danger is present, chewing, and swallowing
Are among the highest maintenance animals with the lowest return on investment.
Sounds a lot like us, the Sheep of God’s pasture, doesn’t it?
Choosing Absalom Means Church Chaos
A Pastor, or search committee, can be sincere in choice but “sincerely wrong.” Even sincere sin equals death. Ever told a “little white lie”? The Bible says: “all liars will have their part in Hell.” It never indicated one “lie” is better than the other!
The choice you make, whether God’s Man or “your guy”, will affect the church for years to come.
The net result of choosing an unqualified successor is leaving the congregation in the hands of someone who doesn’t have God’s blessing. In effect, you will place a “captain” at the head of a ship they have no idea how to “pilot.”
Even though another “pilot” may be inexperienced, God is the one doing the steering so his lack of experience is accounted for.
Inexperience is never the issue as was pointed out before with Jesus’s selection of “unqualified” disciples. This, of course, is by the world’s reckoning as well as your pastoral search criteria.
However, inexperience is given “grace” and Holy Spirit guiding when God’s choice leads.
If it is a “hireling”, God is not with him or your church! This hardly means He will not get His glory only that His glory will be found in YOUR calamity. It must be further known that this new “pastor” (small “p”) was led into sin because:
He has been ‘Promoted’ by men and not ‘Exalted’ by God.
When promoted (the opposite of exaltation) he will tell anyone who listens that only God could have done this. Not only is he walking in opposition to God’s Will but now is deceived into lying about doing so. Remember, you can be sincerely sinful.
This Absalom has now been declared pastor by the people but will never be equipped to take God’s people to “greener pastures.”
Let me guess what some of you wayward people are thinking: “no one can stop what God is doing!”
That is a lie from the Pit of Hell and truthfully, Hell exists because people stopped what God wanted to do in their lives. Understand that stopping God locally can’t stop what God universally, however.
Here is a micro-example: if you refuse to carry out the purpose you were born for, it will proceed, anyhow, just with someone else.
Nevertheless, when Absalom is chosen by the people, or “appointed” by a faithless Pastor on his way out the door, God’s people suffer.
Congregation are led into sin because:
God’s anointed leader is no longer present and has been replaced by an un-anointed train wreck!
God’s people no longer have faith coupled with a watchful spirit only given by God
Absalom, the Successor of Sin, doesn’t have the gifting, or permission, to carry out the plan God has. To be more blunt – you are laying on an operating table, bleeding out, and the surgeon is un-trained, lost, and suffering from cataracts.
God sent someone to Equip the congregation for the work of the ministry. The work of THE ministry has been replaced with the work of THEIR (congregation) ministry.
Peter was certainly not as credentialed as the candidate(s) you are considering, yet he preached and 3,000 people were saved. Further, and 2,000 years later, millions are discipled from this unlearned and Ignorant man's writings.
Here is what God’s Man can do (Acts 2:38-41):
I am hardly suggesting that a credentialed candidate isn't God's man, but based on the SIN laden condition of churches, I often wonder. So many have impeccable credentials that qualify them to lead people, but not lead sheep to greener pastures.
The church has been over-run by effective “managers”, dependent on their “people skills.” Customer service is their goal in the saving of a church pulpit! The well-known watchmen Steve Quayle refers to them as “meow man” who refuse to roar like lions. These deceivers, just like Absalom, may be ‘Who’ according to appearance but lack the ‘What’ of God anointed substance.
Traits of unanointed “church managers”:
Problem solver: as one of your Pastors/Leaders, I am no problem solver. The greatest problem solver you will ever meet is YOU. However, this is only possible if you listen to and heed God’s Word
Likeable personality: I am not saying Preachers shouldn’t ever be loved by the people. However, someone who is serially liked is not preaching for Jesus. How could they be? Jesus ended up on a cross, hated and rejected. Some years later, many of His disciples followed His example, and ended up murdered. Yet, everyone LOVES you?
I guess Jesus was wrong – a servant can be greater than their master.
Other Unbiblical Leadership Selection Criteria
One of the greatest travesties ever hoisted upon God’s People is the “Preach off.” This is a “gladiatorial” event whereby churches ask potential new Pastors to put on a “preaching display.”
If I can be franker: it is an on the job interview of sorts. I am not going to say much more because these travesties have replaced Holy Ghost prayer. I am one of the few Pastors who refuse to be a part of such nonsense.
It makes me sick to my stomach just to mention this. In my life, God has always, without fail, opened doors no one could shut and vice versa.
My stance to a church is: “either select me or don’t." But I will not be part of some vain display where the gifts God has given me are no better than clothes on Wal Mart racks. Shoppers go from rack to rack, seeing what they like and don’t.
I understand Paul’s message about “becoming all things to all people.” However, putting on a demonic clown show, where the “greatest” showman wins is vomit.
Here are more ungodly new leadership selection criteria:
A Pastor’s wife who can lead women’s ministry, sing, or (gulp!) preach
Past accomplishments in Ministry
Winner of the 'Preach off': When used to determine who will Pastor, this practice can be laden with SIN!
When such shallow, unholy criteria drive church direction, the church will become ineffective and a laughingstock. Yes, God does MOCK idiots and reprobates.
Don’t believe that? (Proverbs 3:34 amongst many more):
How can a church be effective following an unanointed leader who, by definition, is ineffective?
This writing was not meant to answer all your questions. I don’t have all of the answers and if someone tells you they do, RUN!
The one (1) answer I do, is the spirit of Absalom is alive and well in the church. As this son of David tried to rule “by any means necessary”, he sowed the seeds of his eventual death. Not everyone who preaches will be raised up to lead God’s people.
To desire anything more than God desires for you is certain to lead you to a place of SIN.
The Body of Christ is not a corporate service that allows you, individually, to take the initiative to prepare yourself to be promoted.
One has to prepare themselves to go to the next level of service, but the next level in the body doesn’t look like carnal corporations.
Brethren, we should be partial to God’s Will and not ours. We preach: “God doesn’t make mistakes” but by stealing that which doesn’t belong to us, the exact opposite is shown.
The sincere Preacher is constantly asking God to help him accept his vocation and show him how to be pleasing within it. Pastors and Shepherds must deal with the ‘issues of Absalom’ biblically and forthrightly.
Be challenged to, as Elisha did with Gehazi, let your heart go with these wayward men in determining their motives.
Assistants to the Pastor, once sure of your calling, search for the greatest of all gifts (post-salvation): the heart of a servant. Do not allow your inability to see what God’s Man does, obstruct what the Lord has planned.
Ha Shatan will come at different times, and in different ways, trying to deceive you into walking away from God. What is so diabolical about this, is the whole time you will believe you are actually serving the Lord.