Why is it that some authority comes across as domineering or bossy? Why do we find ourselves resisting authority or clamoring for more of it? Why is it that some managers think that they have more authority than they actually do, while those we want to lead us feel like they don’t have sufficient authority to lead? Have you ever noticed that the person who administrates the keys and access to the system can think that they have authority?
I once needed to reach a person in a large office building and ran into the “Gatekeeper.” This person thought that they had the authority to block me from speaking to their boss – the person with the authority. Did they have the authority? Well – sort of!
I had a lengthy discussion with a bunch of pastors about these very issues last week. Though we were speaking about a specific issue, I couldn’t help but notice how often terms like leadership, authority, management, boss, and administration get used interchangeably – though not any two of them are synonymous. The discussion left me wondering how these terms affect how we look at ourselves and others.
Why do we clamor for authority and then when we have it we suddenly try and pass the buck? I have noted over the years that some of the best leaders were the reluctant ones, especially those that understood that they held the authority because they had earned the right to lead with authority. These leaders understood the importance of constituted authority and that all authority is a result of submission – not dominance. And, these same leaders took the authority that was handed to them and acted upon it.
We know from scripture, (Matthew 28:18), that all authority belongs to Jesus. Does this mean that we have no authority if it all belongs to Him? By Whose authority did Jesus speak? Once authority has been given, can it be taken back? How does submission play into His authority?
I wonder if much of our unwillingness to walk in the authority of Christ is to do with our disbelief that we truly belong in the Kingdom? If we truly understood that all authority is constituted and given to those that demonstrate submission, then our confidence to step into positions of authority would be directly proportional to our willingness to submit. Jesus’ authority was given to Him based upon His willingness to submit to the Father and His authority. A balance of submission and authority seems to give each of us a sense of belonging. Once we embrace our submission to His authority demonstrated in authentic authorities over us, then we can then embrace our role, position, and function within the Kingdom.
Our ability to act within our authority is also directly connected to our ability to be authentic. Furthermore, our ability to be authentic is directly connected to our sense of belonging and acceptance. Authenticity is a direct result of humility – knowing who we are, what we are good at, and what we are called to do. Jesus’ humility afforded Him the ability to submit, teach, and lead with authority. Jesus knew His role, He knew His position, He knew His purpose, and He knew His mission. He never acted outside of submission to the Father and His true purpose – to be the Messiah.
Authentic authority is always to be accepted, embraced, and submitted to. The problem is that there are a great number of people who operate outside of their authority. They try and tell us what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. It is our job to determine whether that authority is authentic. Too often we ignore the authentic authority of the Spirit of Christ Himself within us because we are clamoring to other principalities and authorities – many of whom are well-intentioned. In fact, if we refuse to acknowledge the constituted authority placed upon us, we are not being faithful, authentic, or humble.
The false authorities around us tend to come across as bossy, domineering, intrusive, and self-serving. Authentic authorities always challenge us to submit to a higher authority to which they are submitted. The authentic authority speaks out of humility – knowing what their position, role, and function is.
Are you resisting authorities because they are false authorities, or is it because you are searching for your place of belonging? Do you know your position, role, and function in the Kingdom of God? Are you humble – enough to submit to your position, role, and function? Will you walk in the authentic authority that comes from your constituted position, role, and function?
If you want some steps you can take to help you find your sweet spot of authentic authority, let me suggest a couple things. Ask those who know you best what they see as your place of belonging in the Kingdom of God. Take a couple assessments such as the spiritual gifts assessment on MyHarvest. I also suggest you take the APEST assessment at www.theforgottenways.org. Finally, experiment with your authority in the context of a trusted community (church, Compass Group, or another ministry).