Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Pastoral Authority

In light of the last few posts (read them if you haven’t already) how might we begin working to a more redemptive understanding of what pastoral authority might look like. I have been around plenty Pastors over the years that demand submission, respect and obedience. This may seem to have the appearance of Godly wisdom but is not. As James 3:13-18 says:
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
In many ways what James wrote is a development of what Jesus had said to his own disciples in Matthew 20:25-28
25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

New Testament authority is power under not power over. Power under is demonstrated in humility and love. This did not mean that Jesus was just a pushover who let anything go but rather when he had to address sin in his own disciples it came from a place of love and it was received.

The people that I have consistently looked to as spiritual authorities in my life over the years have been a great example of Jesus kind of authority. They could address sin in my life and call me to account because I knew that they loved me and truly cared for me. The truth is that if you get any joy from confronting someone about sin in his or her life then you probably aren’t coming from a place of love and humility. If you are truly loving and serving the people you pastor then confrontation isn’t going to be tied to your personal success or the success of your organization but rather to the health of that believer as well as the surrounding church community.

1 comment:

greenturtle said...

There does have to be some kind of order in a group setting.

However, blindly submitting to authority without question, simply because they're the authority, can be very dangerous. Just ask any Jew in Germany in the 1940's.

While most church pastors won't go to the extreme that Hitler did, it can indeed open the door to all kinds of abuse, and misuse of God's name to further their own agendas.

"But, but, they're christians! Certainly they will do no wrong! Certainly you can trust them!" I wish that were true.

I learned very early on, never to automatically trust authority. Questioning authority isn't "rebellious" or "evil." It's just smart!

You must first earn the trust of the people under you. You have to build relationship with them. And THEN the respect and submission comes.