Pastor authority
Is your authority breeding influence or contempt?

Here’s a little brainteaser:

Many without it despise it. Many with it abuse it. Many simultaneously want more and less of it in their lives. What am I?

Most articles I’ve read and sermons I’ve listened to on the topic of authority have revolved around topics such as, “How to respect authority,” “The benefits of authority,” etc. So, I thought I’d flip the script just a little bit and share a few thoughts concerning how to utilize the authority you’ve been given.

The amount of authority you wield is determined by all sorts of factors. Your role, longevity, your age, the hierarchical structure of your church, your level of experience, and your proven track record are just a few things that contribute to how much authority you are given. And just about everybody who works with teenagers in a church setting has been entrusted with a certain level of authority. The question, then, is: What to do with what you’ve got?

And I believe the answer to that question begins by answering another, much bigger, question: Is authority given to you for your benefit, or for the benefit of others?I’d be willing to bet you’ve never thought about it that way before. I know I hadn’t until recently, but I think there is some merit to the idea that the authority we’ve been given is put to best use when it is used as a tool of blessing instead of a weapon of control.

Here are a few ways I believe your authority can serve as a blessing to those around you. I’ll let you translate them into your context:

1. Your authority can elevate the underdogs. Most people use their authority to elevate themselves and their personal agendas. But because you have authority, you have power and influence to elevate others … especially the underprivileged and neglected.

2. Your authority can empower. It’s fairly common for those with authority to also be the influencers, power-brokers and progress-makers in an organization because they have the authority—they can control whose ideas rise and fall, what programs get attention, etc.  But, they can also use that authority to create a culture of empowerment, collaboration, and opportunities for others to shine.

3. Your authority can multiply. If you hoard authority, things can only progress at your pace, but when you look for ways to give away influence and authority, things progress exponentially! When people feel elevated and empowered, they gain authority and the cycle has a chance to repeat again and again.

Here’s my simple challenge for you: Instead of plotting for ways to gain more and more authority, prayerfully discern what God would have you do with the authority you’ve already been given.

Kurt Johnston has been on staff at Saddleback Church since 1997 and currently leads the student ministry team. He is the founder of and has written numerous books, including Middle School Ministry Made Simple, and has created dozens of resources for youth workers.

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