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Leader’s Authority

If we could all daily remember the relationship of the Father and the Son, we would handle authority so much better. Reflect on Ephesians 1:18-22.

18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Whenever you forget the source of your authority and begin to believe it is yours, you move from “I am responsible” to “I have my rights” and trouble begins.

 

Sustaining Authority

Authority is a responsibility, not a right. It is a privilege, not a possession. It is a tool for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

Your ability to sustain transferred authority is entirely dependent upon your faithfulness to serve the one who gave you the authority.

This part of empowerment (the transference of authority) is not about you, it’s about the overall mission or purpose of your local church. Think this through with me: For the one who empowers, the focus is on the one being empowered. And for the one being empowered, the focus is on the mission. The focus is never about you.

The transference of authority, part of the process of empowerment, always breaks down when it stops at a person. Empowerment is like a river that must continue to flow, not pour into a still lake to sit and grow stagnant.

Image: Jehyun Sung

Have you ever experienced the frustration of an adolescent breaking trust with the authority given to them? For example, let’s say you empowered your teenager to drive a car. This is transferred authority. You are still on the line for their mistakes! Then they live beneath their privilege in some way, so you attempt to revoke their privilege of driving and they declare something brilliant like, “You’re not the boss of me—I’ll do what I want, I’ve got my rights.” How quickly they forget that none of that authority originated with them. It was all a privilege that both the parents and the State Department of Motor Vehicles granted to them. Yet they scream, “I took MY test, I have MY license!” The folly of their thinking is easy to see, but it gets complicated fast when they are no longer 16, but closer to 36.

Adolescent leaders are always hard to deal with because they do not understand the principle I’ve been talking about. Authority is a responsibility, not a right. It is a privilege, not a possession. It is a tool for the sake of God’s Kingdom, not a toy for their own agenda.

A servant leader understands authority in this way and serves with a sword in one hand and a towel in the other.

 

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Category: Ministry, Winter 2020

About the Author: Dan Reiland is executive pastor of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He is the author of Amplified Leadership: 5 Practices to Establish Influence, Build People, and Impact Others for a Lifetime (Charisma House, 2012), Shoulder To Shoulder Strengthening Your Church By Supporting Your Pastor (Thomas Nelson, 1997), and From a Father's Heart: Letters of Encouragement to Children and Grandchildren (Thomas Nelson, 1999). DanReiland.com. Twitter: @DanReiland

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    Leader’s Authority