God gives us numerous illustrations of how things should be organized. They are found throughout the entire Bible. For lack of a better term, this could be referred to as the headship model. God places one person as the head of an organization and for the sake of that organization, it is necessary for others to follow that leader.
The Family Model
We have the best illustration for organization given to us in the family. It is such an important organization that we are given its structure three times. First we are given the natural family. There is a very simple structure with parents being the head over children. Later God gave us the example of His chosen people in the nation of Israel who were all one family which grew to become a nation. This begins with Abraham as God promises to bless his family and make them into a great nation. This is fulfilled when the Israelites leave Israel and God makes them a full fledged nation and gives them their own land.
Finally we have the example of the spiritual family. All Christians are a part of God’s family. The church is also organized as a family and as a headship. Obviously Christ is the head of the church. Under Christ though, we have pastors as the head of the church. They exercise Christ’s authority as they teach what He taught and do as the Holy Spirit guides them to do.
In all circumstances, God should be our head and leader. Things that are done outside of God’s leadership are destined to fail. But these organizations all have earthly heads as well. In the natural family, the parents are in charge of the children, but even in that there is headship. 1 Corinthians 11:3 says, “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” This is often misconstrued and criticized as anti-feminist but nothing could be further from the truth. The man has his authority only when operating under Christ. Any woman who is under a man who is under Christ does not need to fear because the man’s authority should be exercised in the same way that Christ’s authority is exercised – with love. By submitting to her husband who is submissive to Christ, a woman submits to Christ. Those who do not submit to a husband who is submissive to Christ is therefore not submissive to God.
More Organizational Structure
Our biblical guide to organization does not stop with just the family model however. While a natural family is small enough that it does not need any more structure, the national family and church family does. In Exodus 18, Moses is visited by his father-in-law Jethro. When Jethro sees that Moses is wearing himself out by judging over the people from morning till evening he realizes that Moses can’t keep up the pace. Undoubtedly inspired by the Lord, Jethro offers Moses advice in Exodus 18:21-22, “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.” Even today, our court system is set up like this with county, state, and federal judges. Likewise, our military is set up with commanders of various sized groups – regiments, battalions, etc.
Numbers 1-5 gives the church instruction for how it should operate. The Levites have been set apart for priestly duties but obviously not all of them can do the same job and there are many different jobs that need to be done. Instead, God gives them specific tasks that families of Levites are to carry out. We see this today in the church in regard to spiritual gifts. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes about the way that the gifts are to be used. They are to be used for the edification of the church. Because there are many different gifts, not everybody is expected to do the same work within the church. Nevertheless, all of the work that is done is important as the entire church suffers without the work of one person’s gifts. Therefore we shouldn’t disparage the gift that God has given us or that of another because they are equally important but different.
The best way for God’s people to be organized is to simply follow God. God must be our leader as without Him, the best organization is doomed to fail. Under Him, we have been given good examples of family that we should follow. Even within the family however, God has shown us good organization. The advice that was given Moses was so effective that we see it even today, thousands of years later within our courts and military. The organization of the Levites was repeated once again in the church with the giving of spiritual gifts. All of this should lead us to believe that God’s organization is very effective and the church should implement it whenever possible.