Thursday, 25 June 2009
Catch the spirit of a leader
Most occurrences of honour in the Old Testament are translations of some form of kabod – the root of which literally means heavy or weighty – ‘to give weight to someone’. To honour someone, then, is to give weight or to grant a person a position of respect and authority in one’s life.
Lets’ be real – we’re very often too thick or too stubborn to understand God’s moves. Sometimes authorities say things that are good for us but we can’t understand it – however we must obey the authority God’s given them. King David was under Saul’s authority and David wouldn’t go against him. David knew the authority of God and submitted to it. He even addressed Saul as ‘my lord’ or ‘the Lord’s anointed’. This reveals an important fact: subjection to authority is not being subject to a person, but being subject to the authority which is upon that person. If our submission is merely directed to a man the whole meaning of authority is lost. Even when Saul disobeyed God, David’s responsibility was to be subject to the Lord’s anointed. Because David maintained the authority of God, God acknowledged him as a man after his own heart. Only those who are subject to authority can be authority.
Now I hear all the time, “What if the authority is wrong?” (like Saul) Whether the one in authority is right or wrong does not concern us, since he is responsible to God – now if there is a genuine complaint, you have the right to appeal to the leadership (on grounds of it being immoral, unethical, illegal or unbiblical). The Lord will not hold us responsible for any mistaken obedience. Insubordination, however, is rebellion, and for this the one under authority must answer to God.
We often misunderstand authority as something which oppresses us, hurts us, and troubles us. God does not have such a concept. His motive in instituting authority is to replenish our lack. Roy Lessin said, ‘A Godly leader…finds strength by realising his weakness, finds authority by being under authority, finds direction by laying down his plans, finds vision by seeing the needs of others, finds credibility by being an example, finds loyalty by expressing compassion, finds honour by being faithful and finds greatness by being a servant.’
I’m discovering more and more in life that people are taking their faults and turning them into virtues (e.g. I’m not procrastinating, I’m just a perfectionist and want to get it exactly right – anything less would be unacceptable.) This fault-into-virtue syndrome is a common defence when people are called upon to discuss their weaknesses, but in the end it’s just a very pious kind of excuse making. I find people also do this when they don’t want to recognise and submit to authority, the famous excuse being, “God has told me…” They say they have God’s direct authority to drop out of a project, to be a missionary etc. We cannot bypass the chain of command and God’s delegated authority. Having delegated His authority to men, God Himself will not supersede delegated authority. God does not look at how many times we’re sharing the gospel, how many acts of kindness are we cramming into our day, how well we’re getting on with one another; He looks to see how obedient we are.
Here’s the secret – the church is maintained by two essentials: life and authority. The indwelling life we have received is a life of submission, enabling us to obey authority.
For those of us who lay aside our insecurities and dare to trust and yield to God’s authority (including his delegated authority here on earth) there is a peace that genuinely passes all understanding.