In order to be effective leaders in a church we do need an anointing, but let us be clear about what that means. The anointing is not ‘goosebumps’. It is not simply a ‘spiritual feeling’ that comes on us or on the people when we preach. In the Old Testament, we find the word ‘mashack’ used for anointing. It means, ‘to anoint, to smear or to consecrate’, and it carries with it a sense of a special act of ‘setting apart’ for an office or a function. Some verses that refer to this are: 1 Kings 19:16, 1 Samuel 6:12 and 1 Samuel 13:9. In the New Testament we find the words ‘creo’ and ‘chrisma’ are used, an example of which is found in 1 John 2:27. The idea expressed here is again ‘to make holy, to separate to God’.
The most important aspect of anointing that comes through here is that if we are to minister under the anointing, we must be ‘set apart’ (mashack) for God. In other words, if we are going to honour the anointing, we cannot have other agendas. When there is any other motivation in our life, like the lust for power, money or attention, the wrong thing is released when we minister.
Since anointing carries with it the sense of ‘being made holy’, we have to make sure that we are clean. There is no excuse for our humanity when it comes to sin. We have to make sure that there is a pure intention in what we are preaching.
For instance, we may hear the statement, which I believe to be true, that our prayer meetings are the powerhouse or generator of the church. As such, they are an indicator of the strength of the church because the real members of a church are actually those who get involved in prayer meetings. We can decide to preach on prayer and get the people to come to the prayer meetings because we want to look good, and not because we truly believe in prayer.
In other words, we have an impure intention, which is that we, or our church, would look successful to others. Our motive should rather come from a conviction about prayer and a realisation of how vital the involvement of the people in the prayer times really is. If they are not there, we are sunk. Purity of heart and anointing go together.
If we are to minister under the anointing, we must be set apart for God. We cannot have other agendas.
The anointing oil used in the Old Testament was prepared from oil and aromatic herbs. It was a sweet perfume. The symbolism in that is that when we stand up under the anointing, even when we are preaching heavy truth, it is attractive. That is why, even when we are not preaching a salvation message, the anointing saves sinners. We can preach on tithing, and people can get saved. How does that happen? It is because of the sweet release of God that goes beyond us, our personality, and what we are saying.
One result of that ‘sweet fragrance’ should be that people walk away encouraged from our meetings. When we preach, we need to ask ourselves this kind of question: “What would I need to get up and keep going for another week if I were where they are? What would encourage and strengthen me if I were going to plant a church, or if I were leading a church or home group, or if I were struggling with the issues that those I am ministering to are struggling with?”
Is the answer to those questions in the message we are preaching? It should be and we should deliver it under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. People should ever walk away condemned from a message unless they are fighting against God. Do our people walk away encouraged, even from our cell group meetings?
There is also a sense of imbuement – the power of God coming – in the anointing. Even though we need to make a decision to do what God says and to minister to others, it is the anointing that brings the power of God. If the only thing that is happening is as a result of the decision we make, then we can do nothing that has eternal value. There must also be an anointing.
The choice we make is still important though. Philippians 2:13 says, “…it is God that works in you both to will and to do according to His good pleasure.” He gives desire and the ‘dunamis’ (the power) but between these two is a little thing called choice! He wants us to be like Jesus, and if we say, “yes” to Him, then He brings the power.
While we are speaking about the anointing, I would like to bring some correction, because an unbiblical approach to the anointing has done more damage in the last ten years than any other thing I know. It has done more damage than New Age teaching, and it has done more damage to the people of God than drugs and alcohol put together, because the way it was handled had no theological roots.
There have been many different things that have been called the anointing that have swept through the church in recent years. Much of what was called anointing in recent times did not do that. It was more of a spiritual ‘kick’, like a caffeine kick, that lasted for a day to two, or perhaps only an hour or two, and then we had to go back for another ‘shot’. God does not want leaders who are dependent on spiritual ‘shots’ from someone who ‘has the anointing’. We should personally be drawing consistently from the presence and the power of God, and be flowing in the anointing of God for each meeting.
The anointing teaches and if the people are not taught, then what was called the anointing was, in fact, not the anointing. When the anointing is present we will not have to continually teach the same messages over and over again. We learn, and apply what we learn, because we are taught by the anointing.
If that is not happening, then there is doubt whether it was the real thing.
The anointing is the presence of God that breaks yokes. If the people of God do not have things broken that stay broken, then what was called the anointing was not the anointing.
If there is no ongoing, sustained, lifestyle adjustment to our living in the world after what happens in the meeting, then something is missing. Something does not line up with the Word.
I know that these are hard words, but I am addressing these issues in the context of leadership in the Church and we need to tackle them without any compromise at this level. I do want to say what I am saying with grace, because I say it from a heart that has been broken for God’s people. I have seen them being deceived and seduced and taken by the nose and carried this way and that, and I feel that pain.
Another thing that we need to be completely honest about is what we call revival. Many churches have claimed to be in revival, but, if we are theologically grounded and evaluate what was happening honestly, then we know that was not revival. It was a move of God, but it was not revival. It was a refreshing or a renewal of God, but it was not revival. I have never been able to stand up and agree with what was called revival. It simply did not look like it to me.
What does the Bible say happens when God is present? In Acts 2:14 and following, we are given a clear picture of what should happen. Peter preaches and quotes the prophet Joel. He says, “In the last days I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh,” and then he tells us some of the things that will happen
The anointing is the presence of God that breaks yokes, as a result of that outpouring. These are valid manifestations of the Spirit, but you do not see much of these flowing in some of the moves that are called revival.
Let me take a step back here and say that I have fallen prostrate and I have laughed under the power of the Spirit of God. When it is genuinely God who does that I have no problem with it. When we get back to what the Bible says are the manifestations of the Spirit, however, we read in Acts 2:17 that when God pours out His Spirit then, “…Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” In other words, there will be a release of the priesthood as a natural, ongoing outflow that is a result of the presence of God in our midst.
In most of the moves that claim that God is present, we do not see that. All the ministry comes from the pulpit. They do the praying, they do the delivering, they lay hands on people; they do everything. Often one person does it all. The Bible says that, “your sons and your daughters will prophesy.” Not only male and not only female; both male and female.
When God came down in the book of Acts there was a sound as of a mighty rushing wind. There was power, there were cloven tongues of fire on their heads, there was purity, a cleansing of the heart, a renewing of their minds, and there was a release of the priesthood. How many of the moves of God that have been administered by a few ‘anointed’ individuals have produced that?