Archive for July, 2012

“Because I said so, that’s why!” Sound familiar? I’ve not only heard that many times as I was growing up, I’ve also said it many times as a parent and youth pastor. If you’re in leadership then you have some kind of responsibility and along with that responsibility comes a degree of authority. My senior pastor has been teaching through the pastoral epistles and so I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of authority lately.  Is it enough to simply wear a hat that says “I’m the boss” and expect people to do as you say? Sometimes the answer to that may be yes (if you are in fact, the boss, and people actually work for you). But there are different kinds of authority. For example, I’m not anybody’s boss but I am a father and I’m a pastor in my church. I have some authority in those areas but nobody works for me. I can try to boss people around all day and they may even do as I say but is that a proper way to exercise my authority? A better question, will that inspire my children and my church to want to follow me? I think you already know the answer to that. Read what Jesus has to say to His disciples in Matt. 20:25-28 concerning authority:

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (ESV)

Jesus is God, He has all authority over, well, everything (Matt. 28:18) and yet in this passage He uses Himself as an example of one who has authority and instead of giving orders, He leads by example.

 Here is the principle that I believe Jesus would teach us and it applies to anyone who finds themselves in any kind of leadership role.

 Influence is better than authority.

 What I mean by that is that I think I would rather be the kind of parent/pastor/leader that is respected than feared. I want those I’m responsible for leading to want to follow me. I want to be respected and trusted. I want to influence people (my children and my church) to be and do everything that God has called them to be and do.

Authority comes with certain positions and there are times that authority must be exercised with firmness and confidence. Let’s face it, sometimes as leaders we don’t want to (and shouldn’t have to) always explain ourselves. It’s not that we’re above explaining ourselves, it’s just that if we have to take the time to explain everything to everyone then we’re wasting their time and ours. There has to be a degree of trust between a leader and those whom he or she is responsible for leading. If I want people to respond properly during those times then I have to be very careful not to abuse that authority. I have to be very careful to show them that I’m someone they can trust and respect and follow. I have to do like Jesus and lead by example, not by right. That’s certainly easier said than done but it’s a worthwhile goal for everyone who finds themselves in a position of authority, whether it be a parent, pastor, boss, teacher, coach, elected official, or whatever. Just something to think about.