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?
Outstanding article! May God give us grace to lead and humility to recognize the source of our authority. May Holy Spirit empower this type of leadership at Christ Church.
As Lent approaches, I have powerful memories of Ash Wednesday 1993 at Christ Church. Thanks and praise to Jesus Christ!
I’ve been thinking about this whole authority issue all week and like a direct message from God, last night on NPR they were discussing that very thing. The clip was about a youtube video posted recently by a college grad and the titel and content was about why I hate religeon, but love Jesus. The clip then went on to talk about the needed transformation of our churches if we are going to reach a new generation. Meet them where they are. They don’t like rules made by men, they don’t want to always be condemned by an unforginving community, but they totally want to hear the message about a loving and forgiving God. Youtube church had completely taken the bitterness of authority out of the way of hearing God’s message. I’m not suggesting that churches are going the way of the dinosuar, but I do think we need to consider that the authority of Christ that we carry with us can be shared using methods we may all consider “new fangled.” I’d be interested to hear the opinions of others. I’m sure if you vist http://www.npr.org you can find the clip which aired yesterday and certainly if you visit Youtube, you can hear the message by the college grad.
That’s why I think it’s so important to remember that we speak not for self but for God. Too often we have pracitced church for our own means and to justify our own existance. Thus we hold onto traditions and attitudes that actaully stand in the way of others coming to know Christ. The funny thing is that in Scripture we see a God who uses everything at his disposal to reach the people. From the Old Testament to New we see God’s continual desire for relatioship expressed in new and exciting ways.
When I speak of authority I don’t mean the status quo, traditional, power imbalance. I am speaking of about how we answer the question, “what gives me the right to speak, act or do?” Only the authority of Christ can give us the power to proclaim release to the captives and love to the broken. Only with the knowlege of Christ authority in our lives can we have the guts to stand up and say to the world there is another way.
Unfortunatley we have used this not for that purpose but so that we can become like the scribes… comfortable and powerful.
Denise- was this the Jefferson Bethke video? Interesting. My mom sent me the “Wired Word” discussion from her church last week – an adult ed curriculum that is based on current events. I will onward it to you. It covered this video – plus the numerous responses. It talks about challenges to authority, plus the independent nature of our culture – but it also goes toward folks who love Jesus but not people, and laments to a certain extent how truly the corporate aspect of fellowship and worship is a crucial part of the Christian experience. And how much good organized religion can and has done for the greater community when it can get its act together. hmmm. It’s like trying not to throw out the baby with the bath water….we need to save the baby!