Wednesday, March 20, 2013

...Fear my power, Green Lantern's light!

I'm a pretty huge comic book nerd. In recent months I've started following Green Lantern. In the Green Lantern series, there are magical rings throughout which are powered by certain emotions. Green rings are powered by willpower, red rings are powered by rage, and so on. The rings choose people based on their strength in the respective emotion.The only problem is that a single individual cannot use two rings as once. Each lantern must focus and control their specific emotion, and use it to save the galaxy. There are also talking squirrels, emotional entities, and blood magic, but that's another subject for another day. In short, I believe that church leaders share some distinct similarities with the Green Lanterns.

When it comes to Christian leadership, most of the focus is placed on pastors, teachers, or public speakers. Yet, I would say there are three (very) broad categories of leaders in the church. As Mark Driscoll would put it, there are prophets, priests, and kings. The three titles come from the offices of leadership that Jesus has. Jesus is a prophet, that is, He speaks from God to the people. Jesus is a priest, which meant that He speaks for the people to God. Finally, Jesus is a king, who has authority over the church. Within the church, there are three different types of leaders that make up the leadership of church. I like to think of these three as different "power rings", that each leader can wield. So, what does it look like?

Prophets in the traditional sense are those who give divine revelation (Webster). Prophets in the Old Testament often warned about impending destruction, but also instructed the people, and gave wisdom. In the modern day, the church identifies 'prophets' as those gifted in teaching, preaching, and discerning. A prophet is not confined to the walls of the church, but apply to teachers at a college, people on debate teams, or even some politicians! A prophet style leader can be found in the secular world with a PR director, or any spokesmen for a company. The prophet's focus is instruction and truth, loving to read long books or articles on a seemingly insignificant topic in order to better understand it. Prophets are fueled by knowledge, but often can become self-righteous and prideful.

The concept of priest is perhaps the most alien to our modern culture of the three. A priest was in charge of worshiping God in the temple, bring the concerns of the people before God, and caring for the people's spiritual needs. Modern priests are not exactly living in elaborate temples killing animals and then cooking them as a form of worship (at least, I hope not). Instead, modern priests are found living in run down areas of town, showing God’s love for the broken, and feeding the poor. A priest leads the local people of God to love and care for the needs of the world around them. In a modern business, I supposed that a priest might be found leading the human resources department. These priests are fueled by compassion, but can ditch truth along the way of helping people.

A "king" leader is much more administratively focused. Kings like using graphs, charts, and large text files full of information. Kings set up systems to keep things running, lay down a long term plan, and organize whatever they're leading effectively. In the business world, a king might be a CFO or CEO. Last week, I did my taxes for the first time, thankfully, I didn't do it alone. A friend of a friend was a tax expert, and helped my mother and I file our taxes. What was incredulous to me was the absolute joy she found in doing taxes. She had a head for numbers, and was definitely a king style leader. Kings like her are fueled by structure and order, but can get so trapped in it that the world breaks down when things don't go according to plans.

As we've seen, each of the three have strengths and weaknesses. Now, a church, a business, or just a club might be able to handle things on their own with just one of these types of people. Likewise, in the green lantern universe, the Green Lanterns generally handle things themselves. This was the status quo for many years, the Green Lanterns being the space police and stopping ne'er-do-wells. Recently however, a new series has launched. "Green Lantern: New Guardians", which has a team of different colored lanterns, green, red, blue and more. Like the horrible cliche of every superhero team's origin story: they realize that only together can they stop their foes! I think it's about time that the church form's their own "New Guardians". Church leaders all have short comings, and can't master all three rings. What leaders can do is focus on what they're good at, and work along side of other leaders who are gifted in the same areas. Together, church can be compassionate, while not neglecting truth, structured, with grace for the craziness of life, and wise, without being hypocritical. The church can't do it perfectly on it's own, thankfully, there is a man out there who broke the rules, mastered all three, and now leads the church. Jesus is the ultimate lantern.

Personal Application: find out which of these three I am, and how I can bring others along side of me.
Also, this chart gives a good idea of what each of the three are.

"Prophet",, 2013, Web. Mar. 20 2013


  1. I am just becoming a comic book nerd. I got my father in law the "Walking Dead" comic for Christmas (we're all fans of the show), and over the holiday while visiting I began reading it and couldn't put it down. The reason I tell you this now is that, having begun reading comics, I understand that there is an entire universe within the comic book world that might need even more explanation for non-comic book readers to understand your frame here.

    For example: in Green Lantern, where do the rings come from? Why can only one be used? Is it like Lord of the Rings and the rings take over a person's willpower/control? I realize that your analogy is a framing element, but I think for it to work fully, we might need more background on how each Lantern chooses and allows the rings to work. Otherwise, great piece!

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I guess I mentally inserted the explanations of how everything works, haha. My brother is huge into Walking Dead, but I never quite got into it. Zombies are not my forte.