Okay, I’m about to deal with something wildly unpopular. I feel led – indeed, compelled – to deal with the concept of “covering.” As a Pastor and a Bishop, this topic comes up in my circles with increasing frequency. I have been asked who is my covering and, also, whom do I cover?
The short answers are, the Holy Spirit and no one.
This is my opening salvo – I’ve thrown down this gauntlet before and, for the sake of this tome, I will do it again:
Where, exactly, is the concept or principle of “covering” elucidated in scripture? My contention is that it is not.
Why, then, is it such a big deal? And what exactly is “covering?” To cover something means to hide or conceal it, or to protect it. There is no man that can hide me from the devil, much less God. Similarly, there is no man who can protect me more than the Holy Spirit who dwells within me. So, what’s the point?
I have come to the conclusion that those who subscribe to the notion of “covering” do so out of either omission or commission.
The omission camp garners more of my sympathy. These are the folks who do it a certain way because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Generally, this is the band whose heart is in the right place. They highly venerate tradition and eschew “rocking the boat,” as they say to avoid offending those of like minds. At the risk of suggesting these folks don’t know better, they truly don’t. “Covering,” for them, is the way of continuing their denomination and preserving the discipline of the pulpit. They blissfully ignore the fact that covering is nowhere in scripture and stick to the tenets of denominational doctrine.
The commission camp, on the other hand, gleans no sympathy from me. These are the folks who know better and refuse to do better. This is the group that has revelation but uses it for the purpose of manipulation. “Covering” in this context is very lucrative, as control is exercised over new initiates into the ministry to regulate what they preach and teach, extending that control to financial matters. “Covering,” here, insists that “spiritual sons” bear the burden of financially supporting “spiritual fathers.” This band knows covering isn’t at all scriptural but aims to loosely cobble together Scripture for the purpose of justifying their premise.
An error, by omission or commission, is still an error and, thus, requires correction. Both camps are in error but the former must be led to the truth in love, whereas the latter will only come to the truth kicking and screaming.
Now, the concept of spiritual fathers/spiritual sons is, indeed, scriptural but this relationship has been skewed for base gain. Many spiritual fathers draw from the models of both earthly fathers and our Heavenly Father in that they bear the responsibility for the care and instruction of their spiritual sons in the same manner that an earthly father would. That is, earthly fathers provide support and a “covering” for their wife and children – and the children only until they come of age.
Where it gets twisted, though, is when spiritual fathers are financially supported by their spiritual sons. In the natural, such a father would be regarded as both coercive and abusive but this is considered to be “normal” in ministry. Equally abusive is when spiritual sons are expected to be clones of their spiritual fathers – even to the point of not doing the prayer and study required of sermon preparation; opting, instead, to parrot the sermons of the spiritual father.
Some may say, well, Preacher, what about accountability; isn’t that what “covering” is all about. To that inquiry, I point to the book of Acts – all the apostles were on one accord, equal in responsibility, and accountable to one another under the headship of the Lord Jesus.
The concept of “covering” is one of the typical trappings of vain religion. Covenant, on the other hand, is far better. I would urge the readers of this article to closely examine their ecumenical relationships and ditch the unbiblical concept of covering and establish covenant relationships for the purpose of accountability.
© 2013 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)