The idea of authority has always been something that has continually been running through my head. I had a few authority figures that should never have been in authority positions and a few others that I’m glad were. I’ve wrote a few things on authority in the past when a good friend of mine was trying to figure out what it looked like to be under authority of someone who was demanding it, or if they should be under their authority at all. I think my definition of what authority looks like might be growing a bit. I’ve always has trouble with authority because it meant that possibly I would have to give up my way; of course my way always seems like the right way, or else it wouldn’t be the way I choose. To actually give up and go in a way that you don’t think is the right way is a very humbling experience.
Authority to me is not power. It is not something that can be hung over someone’s head or something that can be misused. Authority, in my understanding is not something that the person with authority chooses to have or not. Authority is something that can only be given to someone by the person who is going to be under that authority. Authority is a decision by the person under it, not by the person administering it. This is why I think authority is one of the most fundamental concepts that a Christian can hold. Christ has given us freedom, and we need to use that freedom to give him authority.
Authority is when I can trust someone more than myself. This is why it is so hard to actually be under authority. It is very hard for most people, including myself, if not impossible for me to trust someone else more than I trust myself. When I trust myself it is easy. I know everything about my decision from my point of view so of course mine makes the most sense every time. It is important though, for us as humans, as Christians to give authority to people in our lives. It is important for me to trust someone else more than I trust myself. This is how community works. The authority figures are not the ones who want power or who even want authority. Authority figures are those that have been given authority by the community that is under their authority. It is the recognition that the community trusts that person more than they trust themselves. No wonder so many church leadership structures are messed up. They are full of those that are demanding or have ‘worked their way up’ to the top. If the leaders in the church can’t be leaders outside of a title, they probably shouldn’t be there. You can tell the leaders in your community by looking for people that the community trusts more than themselves, not by how loud they are or their great ideas.
There are very few people in my life that I would give authority in my life, that I could actually trust more than myself. I think that number needs to increase. I hope to be humble enough that when the going gets tough I can trust these people more than I trust myself. It is only through authority that we can follow Christ. It is only through authority that we can live in community. It is only through authority that we can be humbled enough to admit that we aren’t the best in the world.