The Benefit of Authority

You know what we all need? A boss. We need somebody to be the authority in our lives. We don’t always want one, but we always need one. I’ve consistently seen the value to oversight and the danger in being left exposed without a covering. Left unchecked, practically all of us will start to divert off course sooner or later.

The value of a boss is that legitimate authority makes a way for us. Submission provides a benefit to the one that is submitted. Where we will come under authority, we have the opportunity to be elevated beyond where we could go without that covering.

The framework of order ordained by God is authority, submission and honor. Without all three, the other two don’t get a chance. In other words, without authority, there is no framework for honor. The framework accommodates purpose that extends beyond our limitations. The framework provides a multiplier to our gifts and abilities that can propel us beyond our ourselves.

Most of us have some bad boss experiences so we wince at the idea that a boss is a good idea. We think we would rather go it alone. If we could just do what we know is right without the hassle of the reports, reprimands, disagreements or other opinions that differ from ours, then we could really get it done. The problem is that left completely without authority, the things that we began with good intentions become distorted by our lack of perspective.

In a corporate setting, authority takes care of itself. In an entrepreneurial or volunteer situation, you may have to be intentional about submitting yourself. Submission doesn’t have to be formal, but it does have to be weight-bearing. To get beyond yourself, you have to welcome the oversight, correction and influence of another. It can be a mentor, assuming you are truly submitted, but that mentor or other influence must be dedicated to your good to the extent that they are not afraid to call out your bad.

Submission is a benefit where there is righteous rule and it is even beneficial where there is unrighteous rule. Where there is righteous rule, authority makes a way for the one that is submitted. Where there is unrighteous rule, authority shapes the character of the one that is submitted. While either can be for just a season, both can propel us on to bigger and better things than we could or would accomplish on our own without the benefit of the framework.

 

 

A Priest, A Lawyer and a Business Owner Walked Into a Bar

I’ve been doing this for a living for about five years. Before I did this, I was practicing law. When I practiced law, I was responsible for the representation of clients as an advocate. That advocacy sometimes meant investment that exceeded their legal questions. Life questions got them in legal problems so my advocacy sometimes meant life investments.

Before that, I was a business owner. There were things I did well as a business owner and there were things that I did not so well. My intentions were to serve my clients and my employees in a way that was honoring and gracious. For those that didn’t know Jesus, my hope was to put Him on display in the ways that I interacted with them.

Now I am a professional minister. I’ve had several roles, but my job is Christianity. This has afforded incredible opportunities to  grow, share and multiply in the life I have found in Christ. It has also afforded me a perspective of what is challenging in the professional endeavor of Christian leadership.

The truth is that I am no more or less of a Christian leader than I was when I owned a business or practiced law. I was a born again believer in Jesus Christ, committed as a disciple to carry the good news of the Kingdom of God then as I am now. The recognition, credibility or validation that comes with vocational positioning does not qualify me any more or less than He did in those previous roles.

The problem, to some extent, is that we struggle to accept that. We struggle to accept that lawyers and business owners are the same as pastors and ministers. The separations are subtle, at times, but insidious, just the same. The little hints of superiority or separation feed the lies of inferiority and disqualification. In every way that we elevate professional clergy, we disqualify the saints that are called to do the work of the ministry.

I’m just as righteous in Christ today as I was in the courtroom, and so are you. I’m also working out that salvation through my flawed and wounded soul as a professional minister as you likely are as someone who is engaged in the marketplace. We’re the same. Our flaws don’t disqualify us nor does our knowledge validate us. There is no more pressure on me to live a perfect application of religious expectations as there is possibility that you are able to pull it off outside of grace.

Legacy is Created by Personal Investment

chuckI learned through Facebook that a soccer coach and mentor of mine from middle school died last week. Although we had not been in touch for decades, I grieved when I heard of his death, which was described as “unexpected.” It caught me off guard that the news impacted me like it did.

When I texted my sister of his death, she texted back, “That so sad; he was a great man.” I agreed with her and wondered further about how we both concluded that despite our disconnection from him for such a long time. I concluded that our disconnection actually affirmed his greatness as the connection that was present decades ago had that kind of lasting impact.

Chuck Blische not only coached soccer, he invested in people. He connected on a personal level and gave himself away. At least that’s what he did for me. He gave me what he had; he gave me himself.

I also remember spending extensive time with him as he prepared me, trained me and worked with me as a soccer referee. I started to realize that the lessons he delivered via soccer have carried over into many other areas of my life.

I was a 14-year-old kid learning how to officiate soccer games on a small army post in Germany. Chuck taught me more than the rules, he taught me leadership. He taught me that the referee has to be in control of the game but the game can’t be about him. He taught me that authority did not equate to arrogance and respect for others would bring greater results than the whistle and a red card. He not only told me these things, but he modeled them and he released me to exercise and grow in them.

Greatness is determined by what we do with people. We will be remembered, or not, by the people we invested in or didn’t. No matter who or what you invested in three decades ago, there is somebody in your life today that needs what you have. Don’t just tell them; show them. Take time with them and let them try. When they try, cheer them on and when they are ready, release them to do without you. You aren’t only investing in them, you are investing in your legacy. Just like Chuck did.

Thanks, Chuck. I miss you more now than I did for the past three decades and I realize now more than ever what you have done for me.

How We Change a Nation

united-states-map-hi

There is an opportunity we have day in and day out to make a difference in our specific environments. The difference comes in honor. Where we can honor despite our disagreements of belief or preference, we will find favor. Where we have favor, we have influence.

There is a maturity required for cultural impact that exceeds the conviction of belief. Belief for yourself to govern your choices is useful for your personal transformation. Broader impact to be instrumental in the transformation of neighborhoods, workplaces, communities and groups we are associated with requires greater humility to honor. Humility to honor despite disagreement with or rejection of the beliefs which have been instrumental in your personal transformation.

In the book of Daniel, we see Daniel consistently honor authority even where his personal convictions prevent adherence to an unrighteous rule. His stand is not carried out with arrogance or rebellion, but reliance on the truth and faithfulness of God. As a result, he faces severe trials but God rescues him and is glorified in the process. Daniel enjoys promotion and prosperity but God gets the glory (Chapter 6).

2 Peter 2 says that those that “despise authority” are “presumptuous, self-willed . . . not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries” even though angels of greater power do not bring accusation.

We live in a divided nation. There are things that happen on a national level which are easy to be concerned about and presumptively declare right or wrong. Yet, the call to the mature believer is to get small. Quit working from Yahoo news and allow the truth of the Gospel to first work within our own soul. Then, serve where we are called with humility and honor with an excellent spirit. We will find favor despite the trials and when our God is faithful, He will get the glory.

No matter which side you are on regarding the issues, a Facebook post or break room rant regarding the president of the country or president of the company won’t change a thing. The mature character of Christlikeness will, however. The humility of excellence in serving others no matter their agreement will provide an opportunity to put the faithfulness of God on display. That display will likely come through your influence which is meek and honoring. The net result will be transformation beyond what any one of us can accomplish in our own limited convictions or wisdom.

Vote Today, Then Decide

voteLove doesn’t control, but it allows. It allows for rejection and rebellion. Since it allows for those things, it allows for the consequences of those things as well.

We, as a nation, choose a president today. We have been afforded the love of God by allowing us to reject His love and rebel against His truth. We are increasingly seeing the consequences of our godlessness in our nation.

I don’t believe any informed observer would claim with good conscious that the two predominant candidates are anything less than flawed. Yet, they reflect the choices of the American people. We are allowed to choose representatives that have not consistently embraced God’s truth to the extent that it shows up in their character. We also get to deal with whatever consequences these leaders bring.

The beauty of consequences is that they cause the one feeling the sting of bad choices to consider what better options they have. Where there has been rebellion, the consequences of rebellion allow for re-consideration of submission. The rebel can change their mind, or repent, and return to the benefits of the protection and provision that come with Headship.

We have not been one nation under God in quite some time. We have chosen to be a nation of many little gods, where everybody’s individual and flawed emotions, opinions, offenses and preferences drive the agenda. Our direction is without direction and our source is ourselves. Truth is subjective so it isn’t absolutely true at all and honor is no apparent consideration in most aspects of our society, certainly not government.

We are not well, but there is an invitation to change. There is an invitation back to wellness. If we choose to turn back to the love of God and allow His love to change us, things will change. This can’t be a governmental program or law passed, it has to be the mustard seed of one heart. One heart chooses and the testimony of their life points another heart to the same choice. Then another, then another.

Vote today, then decide. Decide what areas of your life are in need of submission to receive the love of God. Allow Him to change you and then share life with others. He can change them, too, but you can’t. Just share your story transparently; the good, the bad and the ugly. You didn’t change by a mandate, guilt or shame, but by His love. That’s how “they” can change, too.

 

Leaders That Aren’t Releasing Aren’t Leading

leaderHonor does not require position, but relies on the appeal of deference to influence the outcome. That doesn’t mean that the outcome doesn’t matter for the sake of honor. Honor accommodates the outcome with greater certainty than demands.

A friend of mine in the military used to say, “when you have to tell people you are in charge, you are not in charge any more.” What he was saying was when your authority depended on your position, you had no true influence. Your rank will only take you so far; then you need the legitimacy of relational honor.

The Kingdom operates in the framework of authority and submission with a heart of honor. The Kingdom model for leadership is one of fatherhood not dependent on compulsion, but connection. While a father may chasten, the chastening is in love for the benefit of the disciplined. The heart behind discipline is honor where there is a benefit sought above compliance.

This model is for the raising of children into maturity and applies to every discipleship and leadership context. The focus isn’t for the control and restraint of those that are led, but for the equipping of their gifts. The equipping of gifts prepares for release and multiplication. That exponential impact won’t occur where there is control.

It’s sloppier and riskier than models where there are tight restraints and restrictions on autonomy. The opportunities for error or misunderstanding increase where there is true release. The father model of leadership allows for the error and remains in proximity for correction, comfort and encouragement. The father’s release isn’t a disappearance, it’s a displacement. The displacement is from a safe, protected environment to allow for the risk and reward of multiplication.

Churches all too often are subjected to leadership that controls more than it empowers. The control comes in various forms of programs, requirements, restrictions and methods to ensure centralization. The fear of loss of control ensures any release is conditioned to the point of mitigated success except from the professionals.

Church people all too often are demanding of leadership that controls more than it releases them to actually fulfill their purpose. The safety of control is that there is always someone else to blame and ease that comes where responsibility is never actually appropriated. All that’s left of the church goer in this place of dependence is the evaluation of a consumer to determine if the professionals fulfilled the desires of the masses.

In the coming days, faith-based leaders will be pressed to release control and empower exponential multiplication from the church. The current attraction of centralized programming has reached its capacity and the church will have to operate as salt and light out there, not in here. The hearts of the fathers will turn to the children and hearts of the children will turn to the hearts of the fathers.