The young minister graduates from a seminary within the churches of Christ. He is excited about his first work. He is highly trained, gifted in leadership, and realizes quickly that the weakest link on the eldership has more authority in the congregation than he does. He submits to this because he is still young. Years pass, his training increases until he becomes a doctor of ministry. He has 15 years of experience helping congregations grow. To all who see him, he is gifted in spiritual leadership, and God has been increasing his ministry throughout the entire church. He speaks on outreach and leadership at various events throughout the year. But at his home congregation, the man who is an elders, who is obviously not gifted in leadership has the ability to always stop his plans in their tracks. Even after 4 solid years of service in the congregation, the uneducated, untrained, un-gifted elder can overrule him each and every time. He is powerless after being trained to be powerful for God. Bitterness begins to enter his heart. He is the highly trained professional answering to the amateur. So he develops a plan to “go around the eldership” as he seeks to expand the churches influence in the town. He places the eldership on the shelf of old relics of the past. He does this easily, the eldership is no match for his skill set. But after 165 people from a 200 member congregation align themselves with the minister, the amateur elder realizes he has lost control, and begins the process to have him fired. The rest of the eldership realizes that their authority has been supplanted, willingly terminate the minister. He is left bruised by the process. He seeks an eldership that will allow him to use his gifts blaming the former elders for a lack of vision while over looking his lack of submission. While the former elders complain about his unwillingness to follow poor leadership. And the story is repeated over and over again.
There must be a better way. And there is! The answer is the art of using spiritual authority. Authority is not from position, skills, education or experience. All authority is from God the father, and through Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Leaders in the church are to lead from the authority that is granted to them through God. All leaders ultimately are under authority of another. Until ministers, elders, deacons, or rogue church members realize and submit to this authority, all attempts of leadership will be self-destructing.
Here are some insights into spiritual authority:
1. God’s delegated authority does not belong to the person exercising it–that person is a channel.
2. Subjection to authority means that a person is subject to God himself and not to the channel through which the authority comes.
3. Rebellion against authority means that a person is not subjecting himself to God.
4. Spiritual authority is never exercised for one’s own benefit, but for those who are under it.
5. A person in spiritual authority does not have to insist on obedience–that is the moral responsibility of the follower.
6. God is responsible to defend spiritual authority.
Elders and ministers that are not mutually seeking the will of God together will quickly polarize over some external issue. There are going to be occasions in which the will of God would have the elder submit to the channel of authority coming through the minister while other times the minister must submit to the channel of authority through the elders. Instead of “who is right”, the question must be “what is right.” But submission will be tested in all leaders. There are going to be occasions of differing opinions, submission is easy in times of agreement, but in times of discord, submitting to authority is an act of spiritual maturity. If ministers and elders cannot learn to submit, their leadership and ability in the kingdom will be limited. The first practice of leadership is submission to leadership.
- The Principle of Submission
- Are You Learning?
- Spiritual Retreats
- Learning to Write a Dissertation
- Spiritual Retreats and Dualism