“I am writing you these instructions so that…you will know how
people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household,
which is the church of the living God.”
(I Timothy 3:14-15)
Thoughts… One of the big differences I have noticed between my parents (they are now in their 70’s) and me (I am not in my 70’s) and the different generations we represent is our attitude toward authority. People of my parents generation seemed to quietly, willingly and obediently accept authority while people of my age and younger seem to automatically question authority. The rebelliousness of the 60’s marked that sea change from the respectfulness of the 50’s. Nothing captures this change better than the philosophy popularized by whacky 60’s psychologist Timothy Leary, who preached, “Think for yourself and question authority.”
Though sounding good on its face, in reality it has been taken to an extreme to where authority isn’t just questioned now, it is resented, and in many cases, rejected out of hand. For the most part, this attitude toward authority has had a deleterious effect in our society in general, and specifically it has had a corrosive effect in our homes, in our schools, and even in our churches.
We need to be very careful in our response toward all authority in our lives. I am certainly not promoting blind submission to anyone who is in charge. God has given you a brain, and you need to use it to “think for yourself.” Likewise, you have every right, and a God-given responsibility, to question the validity of anything that seems contrary to the values of the kingdom. Yet at the same time, you must recognize the divinely ordained role of the leaders whom God has placed in your life.
I would suggest to you that one of the best and first places to begin evaluating your attitude and response to leadership is in the church. Now since I am a pastor, this may sound somewhat self-serving, but the reality is, God is very concerned with peace, love and harmony in his family, the church. That is why letters like I and II Timothy were written. That is why God gave very clear instructions for church leadership roles, such as pastors, elders and deacons.
The church is a family, and like any family, there needs to be loving, wise, and honorable parents in order for the family to be healthy and happy. Likewise, there needs to be honor and respect from the children toward the authority of the parents. So it is in the household of God. Paul was very concerned that people understood God’s “code of conduct” for life in the family, and the role of the leaders was to ensure good and honorable behavior in the church.
I say all this to challenge you to review your attitude toward the leaders who serve you, especially in the church, the most important arena in which you live. I hope that you will look at your spiritual leaders in a different light from here on out. I hope that you will have a whole new appreciation for them. I hope that you will encourage them more often than you do now. I hope that you will pray more diligently for them, since they have a very difficult task on their plate. I hope that you will respond to their authority more respectfully and trustingly the next time there is a leadership initiative. And if you sense they are leading in a way that is incongruent with kingdom values, think it through, question them about it, but do it with honor and love.
Ask yourself this question: Am I a delight for my spiritual leaders to lead?
“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep
watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey
them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden,
for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Prayer… Dear Father, make me a delight for my spiritual leaders to lead. Make me an instrument of love, peace and harmony in my spiritual family. May I also conduct myself in your household in a way that respects my leaders and honors you.
One More Thing… “The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.” — John Stott