Some people have Responsibility and Authority. Some have one, but lack the other… and are not too happy about it.
As a career businesswoman, I have been on both sides of this equation… as a team member and a leader. And I have learned A LOT in the School of Hard Knocks! 🙂
I have learned that Authority is a “funny” thing. Some who exercise consider it “no laughing matter.” And some who experience it find absolutely no joy in it.
Once I served — at times, suffered — under a Boss who assumed his “authority” was Power. He wielded it like a weapon — seeking to coerce his “underlings” into loyalty and to frighten his perceived enemies into surrender.
From my perspective, I was there to support him. Unfortunately, it was hard to know which of those camps — underling or enemy — I fell into from his perspective. Frankly, I didn’t relish being in either one.
I had been in leadership for quite some time before I “encountered” this particular Boss. In my own experience, I had already learned what I considered a valuable lesson:
Real authority is not granted… it must be earned.
Real authority cannot not be “granted” by virtue of one’s position. Authority is granted by those who live under it. By those who choose to submit themselves to it. If authority is not earned, those who are “governed” can become very creative and effective saboteurs.
Which is why real authority is earned by virtue of a leader’s character (who they are) and how they exercise the “power” their position has entrusted to them. Do they use, abuse and discard people… or do they engage, edify, and empower them?
You led me into this meditation today, Lord, in the most unexpected place: A surgeon’s office. Where suddenly I realized: The surgeon was speaking with Authority.
He was clearly an expert in his field. He spoke with confidence underscored by a long, successful track record. He carefully explained the universe of options in a logical, evidence-based way before making a very clear recommendation. He empowered his patient by sharing factual information, education, risk analysis and realistic outcomes.
He even acknowledged the limits of his “power.” He was quick to say he could not guarantee certain outcomes. Understandably so, because some things are clearly beyond his control. This combination of honesty, expertise and proven experience built a sense of comfort and trust… even though the risks are real.
I couldn’t help but think of You, Lord.
You have The Voice of Authority like none other! And You earned it… by virtue of being who You are AND by doing what no one else in the Universe — past, present, or future — could ever do.
“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed… with Your blood You purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:5,9b-10)
You are The All-powerful, Almighty God. All Authority in heaven and on earth has been given to You (Matthew 28:18). You are the Name Above Every Name (Philippians 2:9). The King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15). There is no other Name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12).
Yet how did You choose to exercise Your Authority? You didn’t use Your “position” as a weapon to coerce us into a false allegiance. As the ultimate expression of Your love, You laid down Your life for us — made the way for us to have LIFE by suffering and dying for us — even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).
Because You had to? In a very real sense, You did have to… because we were hopeless without You. But You did it because You wanted to… because You loved (love) us so very much (Ephesians 2:4-5). You had authority to lay down Your life and to take it up again (John 10:18).
So You did… letting us choose to respond. Even knowing we might choose to reject You (John 1:11-12).
And You take Responsibility very seriously. Your Responsibility (and Your response-ability) as our Savior, Redeemer, Deliverer, Healer… and so much more.
You see beyond every mask we wear. You hear beyond our silence and every word we speak. You feel every ache beneath our tears. You know every need hiding under our “wants” and our fears.
With a Word or a look, You cut to the heart of every matter… so You can bind up our broken hearts and set us free (Isaiah 61:1)
You speak with Authority that is recognized by all, even Your enemies (James 2:19).
Your Authority is honored by those who are Your own.
“I am the Good Asus G73SW AC Adapter Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me… ” (John 10:14)
And unlike today’s surgeon, You can guarantee the most important outcomes… because nothing is beyond Your control.
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)
“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
Your Authority is unquestionable, Lord.
So why do we question: To submit or not to submit?