Authority. Power. Leadership.
These are the kinds of words that may bring up hurt from the past and a sense of disillusionment with certain politicians, church leaders or anyone holding a position of authority.
In Australia the thought of anyone telling us what to do goes against the very fabric of our nation. Although we cheer on the underdog, as soon as they begin to rise above the crowd they are quickly brought down to size and reminded of where they came from!
But although we may either reject those in authority or shrink back from any leadership opportunities ourselves, the truth is that leadership is crucial for our growth and health as a nation and as individuals.
John Maxwell says, “everything rises and falls on leadership”, and therefore the real issue when it comes to authority is not it’s necessity, but it’s quality.
Paul was one of the most powerful and influential leaders the church has ever had. Under his direction the gospel reached places it had never been before and his legacy still lives on in the lives of billions of people across the world.
But despite his power, Paul never used his authority to get his own way or to benefit himself. Paul believed there was only one reason God gave him so much power and authority:
‘The authority the Lord gave me [is] for building you up, not for tearing you down’ – 2 Corinthians 13:10 (NIV)
Paul was absolutely dedicated to using every ounce of power and resource that God had given him for the purpose of strengthening those placed under his care:
‘everything we do… is for your strengthening’ (12:19)
He left nothing in the tank, as he was compelled to spend his life for the benefit of others:
‘I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well’ (12:15)
Regardless of the examples of misuse or abuse of power you may have seen in the past, never forget that any position of leadership God gives you (whether inside and outside the church) is not for your own benefit, but for the building up and strengthening of those He has called you to serve.