TOAM08 – P-J Smyth on the Army of God (1 Chronicles 11-12)

The speaker for the first main session today was P-J Smyth. P-J leads Godfirst Church and one of the Newfrontiers apostolic teams working in southern Africa, involved with planting and strengthening local churches. P-J, Ashleigh, and their three sons live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

More posts from this conference can be found on my TOAM08 label page. You can download the mp3 of P-J’s talk or listen to it right here:

Those in distress, debt, and discontent, became the army of God. We need to manage a growing army that works. There are multiple enemies. When planting a church, it can feel like the people that gather are a motley crew. But God is in the business of producing change. It can be a cave-like start. It’s not about being irresponsible and reckless. The cave is a season that becomes a great army. Don’t panic if that is how it feels.

The Conscience of the Army (1 Chronicles 11:1-3)

Three things joined this group of people to David. What enabled them with a clear conscience to say “I am with you”?

  1. You are our own flesh and blood, i.e. we like being around you.

  2. We see the anointing/fruit i.e. we see what God has been doing.
  3. Because God said.

They didn’t follow because the leader was the closest geographically, or because you were named the successor.

Jesus would ask questions — Who do you think I am? Effectively, Where are you at with this? Do you love me?

Philemon 8. Paul said he could not compel. He uses the phrase “clear conscience” many times. “We commend ourselves to every man’s conscience” (2 Corinthians 4:2). “What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience” (2 Corinthians 5:11). He did not inflict and was not overbearing.

David was willing to tell Saul that he had a track record — a bear came, a lion came; Goliath is no different. Sometimes it’s not wrong to tell people about things that have happened before in order to help win them over.

Paul strongly urged Apollos, but he was quite unwilling. Paul then backs off, but trusts that Apollos will go at some point. Paul trusts the sovereignty of God (1 Corinthians 16:12). Paul will have nothing to do with violating another’s conscience.

  • Be convinced.

  • Give compelling theological reasons.
  • Give compelling pastoral, prophetic, or situational reasons.
  • Acknowledge and thoroughly address concerns and difficulties.
  • Reassure that you are continuously looking to God for confirmation; moving forward, but not burning bridges too soon.
  • Have a culture of robust discussion and debate.
  • Patiently help people to get their own “faith.”
  • Keep “my way or the highway” for last resort. Persuade, don’t bulldoze.

David was not a softy. It wasn’t a democracy. Don’t violate consciences, educate them.

1 Chronicles 12:16-18. David is very clear and direct. Basically, if you are against me, God will get you! But it was the Spirit who joined them to him.

If you get a new leader, allow him to get a year or two behind him. Look for a sense of relationship to grow, for you to see the anointing, so you will hear God. But if you feel after that time it just isn’t working, you may have to readjust where you’re at.

1 Timothy 1:18 tells us that if we reject the clean conscience, then there is a danger that we will end in a shipwreck.

Devotion of the army (1 Chronicles 11:16). Brought water back, but wouldn’t drink it. Followers can express radical devotion, not just to the mission, but to the person. But the leader shouldn’t just glug it down! Thanks mate, give me more! No! If people devote themselves to the leader, then the leader should send that back to God.

P-J shared two sets of statements taken from the Scriptures — one that he uses when he is doing the leading and one when he is doing the following. Sadly I was too tired to type fast enough to capture this list in its entirety. If you did a better job than me, please do send it to me and I will complete it here.

The Leadership Set of Scriptures

  • I am not doing this for gain (2 Corinthians 2:17, 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 6:5, Titus 1:7 ).

  • I am free from the love of money, content, trusting God (Hebrews 11:5-6).
  • I am above reproach, and at pains to do what is right in the eyes of God and man. (1 Timothy 3:2, 2 Corinthians 8:21)
  • My followers owe me nothing—I will gladly spend myself for them. (2 Corinthians 12:4)
  • I consider devotion to me as if to God … I will pour it out to the Lord (1 Chronicles 11:18)

The Followers Set of Scriptures

  • My leaders are worthy of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17).

  • My aim is to make their lives a joy (Hebrews 13:17).
  • I can be attentive to their needs and quick to try to help, alert to give them support and encouragement (1 Chronicles 11:18).

In David’s team there were the 30, the 3, and some who were honored, but some who didn’t quite fit. In fact, someone who wasn’t in the 3 became their commander. Structure and clarity is important, but sometimes you have to break the mould a bit. We need to be secure in God and have slightly blurred lines. Don’t try and fit God’s structure into a neat human “organogram.” We can sometimes fit things into such a thing, and it’s good to do so.

Structure of the Army

  • Some order and clarity is good.
  • Don’t force it into an organogram.
  • Allow gifting of God to trump structure.

Friendship gets us to the table—it’s a round table, but gifting determines who gets the loudest voice. Ordered, but organic.

The Leader of the Army

Lead Inclusive
1 Chronicles 11:4. “You will not get in.” But the next word says, “nevertheless.” David said “whoever leads will become commander in chief.” Perhaps David was about to lead the charge and remembered Saul letting him go for the wrong reasons, and so said “Who’s up for it?”

Don’t give everybody a go! Provide an atmosphere and an opportunity, but don’t over-promote people. Give room, but followers need to fill that room. Leaders are looking for followers who will become leaders.

Lead Strong
Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Leaders’ Three Levels

  • Guard what has been entrusted. Know what you are protecting. The trust, the people, the ground we have taken, the doctrine, myself, my integrity, my flock. Not going to throw away my wicket!

  • Steady advance—it’s not sexy, but it’s imp

  • Breaking new ground. Spot the opportunities. Cricketers have to decide: Will I let it go by, block it, or give it a whack? Seize the moments of advance. It’s not teamsmanship; it’s not managership; it’s not administership. It’s LEADERSHIP. Spot the soft spot of the enemy. When David sees Goliath he doesn’t see the amor, he thinks, “What a big forehead you have!” Don’t take “no” for an answer. Don’t back off. I am up for this. We need an army of men who don’t know what can’t be done.

General Montgomery, on taking over the struggling 8th Army in 1942, said:

“I believe that one of the first duties of a commander is to create what I call ‘atmosphere’, and in that atmosphere his staff and troops will live and work and fight.General Montgomery I do not like the general atmosphere I find here. It is an atmosphere of doubt, of looking back to select the next place which to withdraw to, of loss of confidence in our ability to defeat Rommel, of desperate defence measures in preparing positions in Cairo and the Delta. All that must cease. Let us have a new atmosphere. The defence of Egypt lies here at Alamein. Here we stand and fight; there will be no further withdrawal. I have ordered that all plans and instructions dealing with further withdrawal are to be burnt, and at once. We will stand and fight here. If we can’t stay here alive, then let us stay here dead … Our mandate from the Prime Minister is to destroy the Axis forces in North Africa; I have seen it, written on half a sheet of notepaper. And it will be done. If anyone here thinks it can’t be done, let him go once; I don’t want any doubters in this party. It can be done, and it will be done: beyond any possibility of doubt.”

Emu and kangaroo are both physiologically incapable of going backwards. It’s not like the army of God to go backwards.

Understanding the violent age the OT occurred in
Sex, Violence, War, Betrayal, Blood and Guts. The Bible as it really is.
'Leader? Be a servant of all' - Jesus
Suicide Prevention: What the Church can do
About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor, and a writer. Since 1995 he has been a member of Jubilee Church London. Adrian serves as part of Jubilee's leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso. Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus. Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway.
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