There is a spiritual concept that has arisen within the Body of Christ over the past couple of decades that many do not
understand, it is the principle of "the covering." I want to elaborate on this truth in this teaching because I feel it is of
utmost importance for spiritual success for fivefold ministers and the saints alike.
Over the years I have had the privilege of traveling internationally for the work of the Kingdom. What a joy it is to serve the
Lord. I remember the very first time I left the country and what I felt when I returned to the United States. The instant our
wheels touched down, there was a sense of well-being that came over me. There was somewhat of a feeling of vulnerability
being in a nation that did not have the same level of safety as ours – I felt “uncovered.” Once I was back under the flag of
the good old red, white, and blue, that sense of nakedness left.
THE DOCTRINE OF SPIRITUAL COVERING.
One of my favorite Scriptures is Psalm 91. What a wonderful sense of safety and well-being when we are in the secret place
of the Most High and under the shadow of the Almighty! The psalmist likened it to a place of refuge and a fortress. Further
in this passage the analogy changes to a mother hen with her chicks and the safety they have under her wing. God is trying
to paint a picture in this psalm for us to see. He wants us to understand that to be covered is a good thing – it is the place
He wants us.
The concept of the “covering” is a spiritual principle; therefore, it cannot be comprehended by natural thinking. (I
Corinthians 2) For that reason, let us look to the Holy Spirit (who is our Teacher) to lead us into the fullness of this truth,
and indeed He will.
My first real encounter with this principle came years ago when I needed to intercede for someone. I knew the power of
intercession, that when I prayed according to the will of God that He heard my prayer and answered it. Later that same day I
had occasion to pray for someone in my church. I utilized the same intercessory style of prayer and probably many of the
same words; however, there was something markedly different about this prayer and the prayer I prayed earlier in the day.
The second prayer had a much stronger power that flowed. That is when the Spirit of God taught me about “covering.”
The person who was a member of my flock had a benefit the other person did not; she was under my covering and the
other person was not. What do I mean when I use the word “covering?” I mean that there was a spiritual dynamic present
that is created when we do things God’s way. It is like the concept of the shepherd/sheep analogy Jesus uses in His
teachings. The sheep is covered by someone assigned to love them and care for them and to protect them. The shepherd
in this illustration is the covering for the sheep. So it is in the Kingdom of God. God has appointed some to shepherd His
flock and to be the covering for them. This is what Jesus referred to in His admonition to the disciples when He
commanded them to “feed My sheep.”
“Covering” is another way of referring to spiritual authority. All spiritual authority within the Church of Jesus Christ is
established by God. Jesus is the Head of the Church and He alone decides where each of us is placed and He alone
assigns us our responsibilities. He chose twelve men whom He used to demonstrate this principle of spiritual authority,
and this same paradigm continues to this day. The most prevalent illustration of the principle of covering is the office of
pastor. He is the shepherd assigned by Jesus to a certain body of believers in a local church. He is the covering of this
spiritual family operating under the anointing of the Holy Spirit to carry out the will of Jesus for His sheep in that place.
Those under his charge are in a good place – they are covered. This covering provides an added measure of safety from
the evil one and an added measure of blessing.
The covenant people of God are promised by Him that He is their shield. (Genesis 15:1) He is their covering in other words.
How He covers us is His prerogative. He has established headship on the earth by which this principle of covering
happens. Aaron is the first one we see anointed in this way as the High Priest over Israel. The elaborate robe that covered
Aaron was symbolic of God’s covering him. He, then, becomes the covering of the nation of Israel as the one in spiritual
authority through whom God interacts with His people. He would engage God once each year on behalf of Israel in the Most
Holy Place. When Jesus launched the Church He used the same concept with the apostles; He anoints them and assigns
them the task of covering His people.
The model for the Church Jesus implemented is the sheepfold. He compares His people to sheep. This is a key comparison
in that it explains how we interact with one another (in close proximity) and that we are under His care as our Shepherd. We
then see Him delegate to certain ones this task of shepherding or covering as He installs five ministry offices to lead His
people and care for them. (Ephesians 4:11)
We know the evil one hates Jesus and does everything in his power to thwart the plan of God and interfere in every way
possible. One of his most effective devices is what I call the “divide and destroy” weapon. He knows Jesus wants us to be
cared for and protected by His shepherds, so he deceives the sheep into breaking rank and going off by themselves. A
sheep is designed to be a flock animal and cannot survive very long by itself, that is why Jesus was careful to liken us to
sheep for the purpose of clearly showing us the importance of remaining in close fellowship with one another. (Hebrews 10:
25) Had He designed us to be independent and self-reliant, perhaps He would have likened us to bears or wolverines or
mountain lions or some other solitary-type animal. But He did not. He made us to remain together in unity and covered.
SUBMISSION TO SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY.
Throughout the years there have been incidents of abuse of spiritual authority. This evil has caused some to reject the
organized Church and Church leaders and even from being in close fellowship with other Christians. In fact, statistics
derived from surveys reveal that the vast majority of born again believers do not regularly attend church and many have
no church home and therefore no spiritual covering. The devourer has succeeded in separating the sheep from the fold
and the result is a Church that is weakened and fragmented and individual believers who themselves are weakened and
far less productive than they would be if they were covered. Because they are uncovered, they are subject to spiritual
attacks by the evil one. This is not the plan of God for His Church.
Each of us needs to be covered. The covering we need is in the form of a person who is anointed by Jesus and installed as
His emissary for the work of caring for His sheep. When we are covered things go much better for us. We have someone
whose voice is strong and powerful in the realm of the spirit who can help defend us from the evil one. His voice also
carries with it the power to bless in an elevated way. He is supernaturally equipped by the Holy Spirit to teach us and give
counsel when and where it is needed. His very life is spent in the pursuit of our happiness and well-being. Having a
covering is one of the blessings God has afforded each of us; it is one of the benefits of our covenant with God.
Your benefits to being covered do not displace the need for you to personally fight the good fight of faith and to do
spiritual warfare and release the blessings of God upon yourself and your family. The concept of the covering is to add
another layer of protection and a stronger blanket of blessing for you. The child in a family reaps the benefits of being in
the family but if he chooses to disobey father or mother (who is his covering) there are negative repercussions. Even
though a safe home is provided, if the child leaves the window in his bedroom open, the thief has a point of entry even
though the covering is in place. So it is with us spiritually. You may have an anointed pastor who prays over you daily and
declares the covenant blessings of God upon you, but if you choose to walk in disobedience to God’s word, you will not
reap the full benefits of having the covering.
One important element to this concept of the covering is submission to authority. Spiritual authority is established and
delegated by Jesus who is the Head of the Church. That is why we as individuals do not have the right to choose whether
or not we submit to His authority. Submission to Jesus Christ literally means submission to those whom He delegates as
our covering. He has chosen to operate through human beings and by faith we submit to them knowing they stand in His
stead on our behalf.
The one in authority must discharge his Kingdom duties with great care. We must be carefully guided by the Holy Spirit
doing only what we are shown and speaking only the words God ordains for us to speak. We do not have the prerogative to
interject our own thoughts or opinions into our spiritual authority. Jesus functioned in ministry in this way and so must we.
God will turn the hearts of His sheep to His shepherds when we are diligent to function in ministry in love and compliance
to His leading. This is when our work of covering the people of God will be at its highest level.
I learned the power of covering in the quiet of the sanctuary of our church when no one else was around. Powerful words
of blessings would flow forth from my innermost being on behalf of our church family and I could sense great and
wonderful things were happening for them. Their testimonies would affirm that God was at work in their lives, and I realized
that it was at least in part due to the pastoral blessings released over them. The power of the covering greatly affected
their lives. It is difficult to actually measure the success of spiritual warfare because our victories over the evil one are
often in advance of the battle. I am confident that darkness has no place in my flock and that my people are always led in
triumph in Christ because I trust the anointing to be their covering knowing it is God who has anointed me!
JESUS POSiTIONS US AS HE CHOOSES.
My admonition to you is find the will of God for you – find your covering. I have often been asked, “How am I to know who
my spiritual covering is?” My reply is always the same, God will put a strong “knowing” in you; there will be an inner sense
of knowledge by the Holy Spirit making this clear to you. This “knowing” has to be strong since this is a very important thing
to you, for this is no time to make mistakes. Who you are under makes all the difference in the world to you. If you are
properly positioned, things will go well for you, if not you will feel the wrath of the devil and the would-be promised
blessings will elude you. Find your covering and stay there.
Not just any pastor will do. The covering you submit to must be of God’s choosing for apart from being in the right place
under the right covering you cannot experience the fullness of the will of God for you and all that is in the heart of God
cannot be released to you. There is only one covering meant for you – find it.
Let us step out on some “thin ice” so to speak in order to explain what to look for in a spiritual covering. Most Christians
feel that if they have a church home that is sufficient. The prevailing thought seems to be that if you are a member of a
local church, all is well. That is not necessarily true. Far too many believers who are church members actually have no
shepherd. There is someone who is called “Pastor” in their church who stands in the pulpit and preaches and whose name
is on the marquee outside, but he doesn’t even know their names. One who truly covers you lifts your name in prayer and
he visualizes your face when he prays for you. And because there is a genuine covenant relationship between the sheep
and the shepherd, the pastor takes his job personally; this man is not a hireling, this is a true shepherd. So, a real covering
is one in which you are known.
The kind of covenant relationship described in the preceding paragraph defies what we often see in churches. One of the
reasons for this is that the fundamental structure of the church is wrong. If the church hires and fires its leader, the church
structure is wrong. Those under authority are never authorized to exercise authority over those in authority. Sheep do not
dictate to the shepherd where they are led or what pasture they feed in or what lake they drink from. The shepherd makes
these decisions. Pastors are shepherds who operate under the guidance of Jesus who is the Chief Shepherd. So if there is
to be a sound covering for you it will happen within a local church that is scripturally sound and structurally biblical.
A spiritual covering is a tremendous responsibility. The one who is a covering is never a novice. The Chief Shepherd will
not risk the well-being of His sheep to one who is untested or inexperienced. This is why Paul instructs young Timothy to
look for experience in those who would oversee the Church. You have the responsibility to measure the calling, the level
of experience, and the spiritual maturity of someone before placing yourself under their authority. In this way you can rest
assured that your covering is a man called by God and worthy of your trust.
One who would be a covering has the responsibility of caring for another person. The mistake often made is that one in
spiritual authority thinks more highly of himself than he should. Lest we fall into this error, let us remember the words of
Jesus, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) Your covering must be a humble
man, one who walks softly before the Lord and demonstrates the love and compassion of God to all. Find a man who
imitates Jesus in his personal life and whose fruit is evident. The truth is this: the sheep will take on the characteristics of
their shepherd and what is within him will eventually flow outward and onto those he covers. This is yet another reason
why you must be careful in choosing your covering.
There is a Master Plan in effect right now in the Church; Jesus is setting His little ones where He wants them. This truth is
born out when we read I Corinthians 12:18, “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He
pleased.” Listen to Him, and He will direct you to your covering and when you find him you will rejoice and be glad.
This teaching up to this point has centered on the pastor’s role of covering the saints. There is another layer to this
doctrine of the “covering” and that is the apostolic covering. It is similar in almost all respects to the pastoral covering the
difference being that those who are being covered are fivefold ministers and the covering is the apostle. The apostle
operates within a sphere that God ordains; this sphere is similar to the local church realm the pastor oversees except it is
larger and encompasses numerous churches and ministries. The fivefold ministers within the apostle’s sphere directly
benefit from their covering just as the saints benefit from the covering God affords them through their pastor. Essentially,
each of us needs a covering and is benefitted by having one.
|The Principle of "The Covering"
By Bishop Randy Barnett