Here is your sign…

24 Jul

As followers, we are responsible for the way we respond to the people in authority over us. No question. At the same time, Paul’s words to fathers in Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3 indicate that those in authority also share in this responsibility as well. By misusing their authority, leaders can make it much easier for those following to sin.

Because we are fallen and we don’t like to submit to others, it is sometimes difficult to tell when someone is abusing their authority. As followers, we often like to blame others and leaders in particular for our own sinfulness. Know this, however. In this sense, leaders aren’t very different. Followers like to blame leaders and leaders like to blame followers. It is just as difficult for a leader to take responsibility for his misuse of authority as it is for a follower to take responsibility for his refusal to submit.

How can we tell where the primary problem lies? Are the followers being abused or the leaders being falsely accused? Most of the time, I am sure, it is not our problem to fix. But what about in our own lives, with our own leadership? Are there any signs or symptoms which will help us evaluate whether we are misusing our authority? We love ourselves and love to give ourselves a break, but is there anything we can look out in our followers for that will help us slow down and evaluate whether or not we are leading in a godly way.

I think we find in Paul’s instructions to fathers two common indications that someone is abusing their authority.

1.) When a person is abusing their authority, you will find the people following them often struggling with bitterness and anger. Paul says to fathers, do not provoke your children to anger. This must mean that there are ways people in authority can act that make it easier for those following them to give in to sinful anger. Now, people often get angry at authority. So does this sign really help us? Maybe not as much when you meet someone who gets angry on a regular basis. But what about people who are not known as angry people? I think this sign is most telling then. When someone you are leading who shares biblical convictions with you and is known as a mild-tempered person is struggling in significant ways with anger over your leadership, it is probably time to slow down, and ask yourself whether you are using your authority in godly ways.

2.) When a person is abusing their authority, you will find the people following them often struggling with discouragement. Paul tells fathers to be careful how they use their authority, lest their children become discouraged. What does it mean to be discouraged? It means to lose heart. When someone is using their authority in unhealthy ways, people are often afraid to use their gifts for the glory of God. How common is that? If you find that the people following you are very slow to step up and use their gifts for the good of the church, don’t just blame them, it could be that you are leading in a way that takes the courage out of them and leaves them cowering in their pews.

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One Response to “Here is your sign…”

  1. Mwamba soyo Natacha July 24, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    may God open our heart to apply what we have been given fr free in d gospel! God gave us his only son to save our sinful life!wat do we need more to understand his love?We hav everything:true gospel,great familly,good leaders,..& more ears&eyes to see & what the Almighty has done through our leaders! God’s love has been given to us 4free! God help us to apply what d gospel is teaching us through our leaders,so that we may be called good followers!! God open our eyes so that we can see & understand from our hearts what he really expect from us!we ar really greatful fr d gospel

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