A Word of Caution: What God-Given Measures are Not

From God’s perspective in Scripture, measures of capacity and influence are always given for the building up of those around us (2 Corinthians 10:8).  They are never to reflect the attitude of “I’m in charge, so do what I say.  Honor me, serve me.” Nor do they communicate a “We’re the head, not the tail” mentality.  In Matthew 20:20-28, Jesus stakes the opportunity to address issues of power and control after the mother of the sons of Zebedee vies for position for her two boys (James and John).  He says, “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 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.”

Since the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, grasping and posturing for power and control has played a major role in human history.  It is rampant today, and Jesus-followers can be caught in the middle of it as well!  This desire for power and control exists within the sin-ridden heart of every man and woman.  It is nurtured be a deep need to have things “our way” and to be “one up” on others.  But, Jesus told His followers, “It shall not be so among you.”  Regardless of our measures of capacity and influence, following Jesus means serving, giving, and laying down our lies for those around us, just as He did.

I’ve encountered countless stories of pain and disappointment from wonderful people who have been trumped, beaten down, and run over by leaders who may be sincere but are very misguided in their understanding of authority.  Authority is never to be used to assert one’s position or push one’s agenda.  It is for furthering God’s kingdom and functioning in God’s ways.  Yes, authority is God-given, but always with His purposes and the highest good of others in mind.  Over the years, I’ve seen how insecurity asserts authority.  Often, someone who is needy or wants to “be somebody” jumps on the authority train.  That person eventually crashes, often derailing his own walk with Jesus and the faith of those around him.

I’ve encountered countless stories of pain and disappointment from wonderful people who have been trumped, beaten down, and run over by leaders who may be sincere but are very misguided in their understanding of authority.  Authority is never to be used to assert one’s position or push one’s agenda.  It is for furthering God’s kingdom and functioning in God’s ways.  Yes, authority is God-given, but always with His purposes and the highest good of others in mind.  Over the years, I’ve seen how insecurity asserts authority.  Often, someone who is needy or wants to “be somebody” jumps on the authority train.  That person eventually crashes, often derailing his own walk with Jesus and the faith of those around him.

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Nowhere does Scripture endorse manipulation, control, or power grabs.  As a matter of fact, Scripture tells us that when Lucifer attempted to power grab, God tossed him out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-17; Luke 10:18).  God certainly wasn’t threatened; it just didn’t reflect His character and ways.  God endorses and blesses humility, serving and honoring others, and fearing and obeying Him above all else—never control!

Trumpeting authority and keeping people around only as long as they are useful to one’s purposes are ungodly expressions of a deceived human heart.  Moving this sort of deceived leader toward godliness requires their repentance and the beginning a  process of sincere restitution towards those who got caught in their web of ungodly leadership.  Walking for a season with a gracious and truth-filled leader who can help realign someone to the ways of God is also a step of wisdom in the right direction.

Reflection points

  1. Read Ezekiel 34:1-10.  How does God view those who use authority to benefit themselves?
  2. I’ve heard honor described as “seeing another person with the same value that Father God does.”  Whom do you need to honor today?  What are tangible ways you can express honor to them?
  3. Are there people whom you have misrepresented God to, misrepresented His character or His ways?  Write their names down.  Seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Ask the Lord to help you see His heart for them.  And ask the Lord to reveal ways to seek their forgiveness.