The Power of a Team (part 3 – The Principle of Ranking)

In Joel 2.7 one of the things we find out about the great army approaching is that “they shall not break ranks”.

A lot of people in leadership teams, a lot of people in churches especially, do not understand the principle of ranking.  It upsets them because they think that life should be equitable and everything should be shared out.

The fact is that on an ontological level we are all ranked the same.  We are all human beings with equal worth and equal rights.  But on a teleological level – how we function – we are not all the same, we have different functions which leads to different rewards and different opportunities.

This concept can be hard to grasp, so let me give you a couple of examples.   You know for example that Jesus is fully God (John 1.1-3).  He is exactly God.  He is on an ontological level the same as God. Fully God, not worth less or with less rights than God. But Jesus also said “The Father is greater than I”. So what does that mean? It means on a functional level Jesus saw that the Father was the one with the rank. Jesus would not break rank, he kept rank. Although he was fully God, he only ever did what he saw the Father do and only said what the Father said.  Ontologically the same, functionally different.

My sons and my daughter are worth as much as me, they are ontologically the same. But I tell them when to go to bed, they don’t tell me when to go to bed. Functionally we are different.

It is the same in any organization, and the church cannot be the exception.  This is principle of God hard-wired into the universe!  Politicians have tried to make everyone the same and it never works!

If you are a leader you must realize you have a place – you have a rank and you should stay in that rank.

Your rank is how you operate. If people are allowed to break rank, then your organization will turn to chaos. Ranking is positive as it shows you there is potential within an organization.

I know many men who have a far greater ministry than I do.  Some of my closest friends have done far more in ministry than I have.  I get really excited when they tell me what the Lord is doing with them – it encourages me to dream big, but I will tell you the truth: I always respect those who are ahead of me.

Now where you are right now is not your rank for life, but you have to learn to function at the rank you are at.  If you are a pastor, be a pastor and be a good and happy pastor.  If you are an elder, be a faithful and good elder. Enjoy being an elder.  If you are a Bible College student, enjoy it and learn everything you can, you will be coming out of that bubble soon. If you are the assistant pastor, be the best assistant pastor in the world – when you finally get the big chair, then you will be glad of every day you were not in it, I can promise you!

If you want more rank, you have to be faithful where you are. 

But be aware, the more promotion the more persecution.  You will never know the implications and the role of a higher rank until you enter into it. If someone is paying your salary, you do not know what they are doing to believe God for that money to come in. Maybe you should be wise enough not to criticise them.

One of the worst things you can do in terms of your destiny is to try and promote yourself before the Lord is going to promote you.  

A lot of people are guilty of self-promotion, but they are not faithful, not supportive, not encouragers.  They want more honour but do not know how to show honour.  I have been in the ministry for many years now, and been serving the Lord for over twenty years, and I have seen so many flash-in-the-pan ministries come up and fall down because they don’t understand simple truths of Scripture.  This truth will protect you a great deal.


Published by Tree of Life Church

We are a growing network of growing churches, with services weekly in Dagenham, Guildford, Watford, Croydon, Brentwood and Dorset. We are also planting churches in Cambridge, Suffolk, West Midlands and Hemel. Find out more at, and

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