The Use or Abuse of Authority

“ABUSE OF AUTHORITY” – It’s a big problem among leaders today!

I think we’ve all seen (or suffered from) individuals that let a little authority and power go to their head. They “throw around their weight” – they’re demanding, dictatorial , abusive and threatened by anyone who has another opinion. Tragically there are some of these kinds of leaders in Christian service! There is nothing “Christ-like” about the way they seek to lead others! As spiritual shepherds go, they “drive sheep” – they don’t “lead” them.

But there’s also the opposite extreme… The leader who avoids confrontation at all costs – the person who finds a place to hide when there is an issue to be dealt with – the “shepherd” who really wishes someone in the “flock” would just take over. I know a few of these… If you looked up the term “laissez faire” as a leadership term in the dictionary, their picture would be there. They are directionless, convictionless, valueless, and spineless. Those who seek to follow them have no idea where they are headed, what the vision is, or what values they stand for. They abuse by neglect.

I read a passage in the Bible today, penned by apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit that speaks clearly to “abuse of authority” (in fact, it’s actually found twice in 2 Corinthians – an epistle where Paul’s authority was being seriously challenged). I think these verses provide an understanding of leadership and the use of authority that served as a guiding principle for apostle Paul (and I want it to always guide me)… Here it what Paul had to say…

“If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do! So even if I boast somewhat freely about THE AUTHORITY THE LORD GAVE US FOR BUILDING YOU UP RATHER THAN TEARING YOU DOWN, I will not be ashamed of it.” (2 Corinthians 10:7-8 NIV)

“This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority – the AUTHORITY THE LORD GAVE ME FOR BUILDING YOU UP, NOT FOR TEARING YOU DOWN.” (2 Corinthians 13.10 NIV)

So how to avoid the two extremes I’ve presented… How to keep the “authority automobile” on the road and not in either ditch… I’ve come up with a little phrase personally that has helped me in my use of authority as a leader (and has helped a lot of other leaders as well)… here it is… God wants me to be “STEEL UNDER VELVET.” I need to use authority to build others up, not tear them down… “CONVICTION WRAPPED IN KINDNESS” Think I need to go out and find some more “velvet!”

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