Last week, I began a series of writings on authority and our need to exercise Christ’s authority in our lives. This is not a subject that I speak of lightly. Leadership in the church
and in our daily lives is something that has collapsed in recent times. With our political system as an example of how our world is suffering from a leadership void, I think it is helpful for each of us to realize that we are called to be leaders.
I am not just talking about our sessions or pastors. As Christians we are called to lead with Christ’s authority. Each of us is a spiritual leader in the context of school, work, home, neighborhood and the world in general. Remember how Joan Gray defines a spiritual Leader.
“A spiritual leader is one whose way of life is centered in a relationship to God revealed in Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit… a leader exercises authority or influence to motivate other people to follow her or him.”
It’s critical to remind ourselves that the reason we seek to lead others to follow us is not for our own ends, but is instead for the purposes of God in the world. Thus, we seek to influence our neighbors to be Christ-like because we are called to make disciples. We lead our families to follow Christ’s mandates so that they will live a life of righteousness and service to God.
So if you are able to take the leap and recognize that you are a spiritual leader and that you have authority to lead, what do you need to do to become that leader in whatever setting you are called to do so? We know that “because the Bible tells me so,” doesn’t work in our society. This assumes that people hold the Holy Scriptures in the same regard as we do. Many of the people we may be called to lead may actually hold a oppositional view to Scripture or, at the least, are indifferent to it. So then what are we to do?
One aspect of our lives that we need to strengthen is our commitment to Christ. To paraphrase Joan Gray, “People grant authority to leaders who show a serious commitment.” I paraphrase this because in her book, “Spiritual Leadership for Church Officers”, she is talking mostly to pastors, elders and deacons. I think there is a great benefit to expand our understanding of leadership beyond the organizational realities of the church, and thus, I am seeking to apply her thoughts to our whole life. So, if people grant authority to those who have a serious commitment, what must we do to begin to have authority to speak the truth in the lives of those around us? Of course, we must begin to strengthen and deepen our commitment to Christ.
One critique of the politicians is that they don’t hold onto their commitments. Polls and gaining votes are what lead their talking points. Christ shows us that sticking to spiritual commitments will give you the authority to lead. Jesus teaches, and the people see that he means what he says and says what he means. His personal commitment to serving the Living God in spite of the personal risks, and seemingly small rewards, displays to the people around him that he is committed. This is of course in stark contrast to the Pharisees and Sadducees who are more than willing to lay burdens on others while they aren’t willing to make any effort.
I think that this is summarized by remembering that the world doesn’t want to follow wishy-washy people. Perhaps this is the scandal of the contemporary church. We have been afraid to live out our lives as those who are committed to Christ and his ministry. Our calling today is to recommit to our sacred calling and to be those who are willing to show that commitment in every aspect of our lives.
- How does the world see your commitment to Christ?
- What can you do to recommit or strengthen your commitment to Christ more fully?