Authentic Authority

Evil spirits haunting a man in the synagogue knew Jesus and asked why He was interfering with them. That made those in attendance stop and stare in disbelief. Jesus had performed  miracles before, but a conversation with evil spirits? When He told the spirits to be quiet and come out of the man, the crowd heard something they hadn’t heard before. They heard a man speaking with authority and wanted to know where He got that authority.

Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.

Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began shouting, “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.

Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee. (Mark 1:21-28 NLT)

The crowds were used to being read to, lectured, and told how they should behave. They were not accustomed to hearing someone speak with God’s authority. Jesus exerted that authority to the evil spirits, and they obeyed Him because they had no choice. God gives me a choice because He wants my obedience to be out of love.

Religious leaders resented Jesus. They were, and wanted to remain, the authority when it came to God and His Word. Who did this rabbi think He was? To the Pharisees, authority meant control. To Christ, authority meant freedom. The evil sprits were forced to obey Christ’s commands, and He could make all of us obey in the same way, but He wants obedience born in freedom and carried out in love. That’s the way He obeyed, and it made a beautiful difference in the world.

Photo Credit:maxresdefault
Photo Credit:maxresdefault

The Need to Lead

When I think of leadership, I think of all the workshops and classes I’ve taken over the course of my life. Most had to do with education, but all leadership lessons are the basically the same until you come upon the teachings of Christ who led like no other. His lessons in leadership are still the same, and they still clash with the world’s view of what makes a good leader. The world’s lessons feed those with a need to lead, and I’ve always had that need. I realize that whether I was trying to fix someone or prove something to myself or others, I felt as though I had to lead.

Getting to the bottom of my heart has been a difficult part of my journey. As I’ve gotten there with God’s help and the help of loving friends, I am surprised by what I find. I should have known that the journey to find self wouldn’t be pleasant. Otherwise, Christ would not tell me I have to die to self before I can follow Him. As difficult as it is, finding self does make it easier to do just that.

I have had to redefine myself several times during my life. Each has left me wanting to know exactly who I am. As I posed that question to someone in frustration this week, I realized God was directing the question to me. He has been waiting for me to decide and was all ears. Soul searching is never easy, and the outcome is much the same as that of finding self. The soul is seldom subtle, and when I go delving into it, I come away shocked by what I find.

The good news is that such searching humbles and causes me to pause long enough for God get in a word or two. While dazed, I hear His still, small voice loudly and clearly saying that I need to remember Who He is and who I am. His model for leadership hasn’t changed. Jesus was not, and still is not, your typical leader. He will not be when He returns. He does not measure up by the standards of this world any more now than He did before. He doesn’t have the need to lead, and He didn’t seek out leadership positions or teach seminars on how to be a successful leader. That bothered the leaders of the day and would bother them even more today. His authority comes from God, and that is His bottom line on leadership.

Jesus has a leadership style all His own, and it is the most effective one ever known. He doesn’t set out to lead; He sets out to love. Love was the impetus behind His leadership, and no matter how confounded the Pharisees or the disciples got, they just couldn’t get around His love. His love let those who hated Him have His life, and Satan thought for sure he had won the war when it came to leadership. Christ’s love brought Him back with even more power than He had before, and the war was won once and for all. There is no way to understand the love that put Jesus on the cross and brought Him back; it can only be accepted with the understanding that it cannot be understood. What a leadership strategy! Love, listen, and let go of the need to lead. The secret to successful leadership is knowing Who’s in charge, and it always will be. God doesn’t need any more leaders. Christ has His authority and will always have it. He needs those who will follow His leader humbly without grumbling. Anything else is unacceptable.

Will the world like it? NO! Will it make me popular? NO!  Will it get me elected to positions of power? NO! Will it help me win friends and influence people? maybe:) Will it connect me to the Source of all Love and true power? Definitely!

I know the world will always have hierarchies, and positions of leadership are necessary when it comes to organizations. God’s design is a body, an organism, and there is no hierarchy when it comes to a body. Whole and working together is what God desires. When it comes to God’s kingdom, there’s only one Sovereign, and the position is already filled. We are asked to follow, not lead.  A simple seminar if I ever heard one:)