Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Authority Issues

"Are you saying I have authority issues?" I asked.

Six other pastors huddled around me in my office. This was our second of several meetings to provide fresh insight and counsel to one another. We agreed to put different pastors on the hot seat for the summer. My seat was heating up. After two hours of discussing my strengths, weaknesses, strategies, and dreams, the diagnosis became clear. My distaste for leadership gurus, vision-casting, and church literature was more than a preference.

When I asked the question, they nodded. And smirked. I had authority issues. Sadly, it is not uncommon for spiritual leaders.

The symptoms include:
  • aversion to best practices, meetings, strategic planning sessions, and accountability
  • inability to ask for help, follow through, or celebrate others' successes
  • constant re-invention of the wheel (and other already tried-and-true inventions or activities)
  • distaste for canned curriculum, catchy sermon titles, and ecclesiastical creeds (alliteration and assonance are acceptable)
  • demand for originality
  • preference for small gatherings where I am the dominate personality
  • various schemes to take over the world
Not all the symptoms applied to me. To date I have made only one attempt at world domination. It failed. (Or has it?) Nevertheless, the conversation with my colleagues left me wondering how much my distrust for authorities and institutions affects my pastoral ministry. (Answer: More than I can imagine.)

Indeed, every leadership book I have forced myself to read stresses the importance of leaders being "under authority." I can flippantly claim to live under the lordship of Jesus. But even Jesus taught to give Caesar his due. And Paul, a bond-servant of Christ, encouraged members of the church to submit to one another in the fear of the Lord (Eph. 5:21).

Our respect for other believers demonstrates our fear of God. We should heed their advice, consider their perspective, and listen to their diagnoses. If I didn't have such glaring authority issues, I would probably do these very things.

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