Spiritual Authority for Ladies Leaders: Use It, Don’t Abuse It
Do you desire to be an effective influence in the lives of other people? If so, you should be aware of the essentials of spiritual authority. Ignorance of them is the major reason why inexperienced small-group leaders often feel inadequate, and violation of them is a primary source of abuse by leaders who-usually unwittingly-misuse power in a group.
For the Christian, the ultimate model of spiritual authority is Jesus Christ. Jesus’ authority comes from God (see John 13:3). The Father chose Him for the work of man’s redemption. In the same way, Jesus has chosen us to be a “royal priesthood” – to go out among men and women of the world and urge them toward Christ’s kingdom.
Every Christian has spiritual authority (see 1 Corinthians 2:15), and God chooses some Christians for leadership positions. There is inherent authority in the office of a leader (for example, David always respected the mad Saul as “the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 24:6). But we can increase the effectiveness of our exercise of authority by observing the following guidelines:
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– Servanthood is the crucial prerequisite to spiritual authority. Jesus did not “grasp” His authority as a privilege of position, but gave up its rights and took on “the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:7). Jesus’ act becomes authoritative for the Christian: We, too, are to become “as nothing,” and in humility treat others as better than ourselves.
Self-denial is bitter medicine in an age that has made “self-esteem” a priority. But the only way to exercise authority in the spiritual realm is to die to self so that God may raise us in His power and for His purposes. Only by taking on the very nature of a servant can we be agents of God’s authority and bear fruit that will last for eternity.
– The Bible is the greatest resource for spiritual authority. The Scriptures record that all Israel recognized the spiritual authority of the prophet Samuel-even when Samuel was a youth. “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground and Samuel’s word came to all Israel” (1 Samuel 3:19; 4:1). What was Samuel’s secret of spiritual authority? “The Lord . . . revealed himself to Samuel through his word” (3:2 1). If we desire to influence others with genuine spiritual authority, we must be not only servants of men, but also “servants of the word” (Luke 1:2).
– Praying for wisdom is a necessity for spiritual authority. Young King Solomon prayed to God, “I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties . . . so give your servant a discerning heart” (1 Kings 3:7-9). God gave Solomon a discerning heart, and the Scriptures say that all Israel “saw that he had wisdom from God” (3:28).
No matter how inadequate we may feel some days, we can confidently ask God for authoritative wisdom, because He has promised it to us (see James 1:5).
– Spiritual authority is always informed by the needs, the hurts, and the burdens of others. Jesus was sensitive to people. He recognized the truth about them (for example, the woman at the well), and He loved them in their human frailty (for example, the rich young ruler).
This kind of authority never seeks self-fulfillment, nor does it try to impress others. Rather, it is genuine and sincere, focusing on God and other people. The person with spiritual authority is neither self- demeaning nor self-inflating; he is self-forgetful in his loving attention to others. He is an encourager; he urges others toward a deeper knowledge of God and a more excellent contribution to His kingdom.
– Spiritual authority carries out the work of God with firm conviction. At one point, members of David’s army talked of stoning him. But he mobilized their loyalty by seeking God and acquiring a firm sense of purpose toward God’s ends (see 1 Samuel 30:3-10). We see this resolute strength in Jesus as He walked toward Golgotha, carrying the cross.
Our lives will acquire spiritual authority when they are consumed by the glorious Person of God, and when we do the works He has prepared for us (see Ephesians 2:10) with serene but definite care.
Excerpted from ‘Discipleship Journals’ ‘Best Small Group Ideas Vol. 1’
By Don Simpson
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”