It is impossible to do anything significant apart from authority. Authority is manifested through headship and is expressed in places such as government, society, business, the church, the family, and the individual. Headship does not mean the control of another. It simply means that you are a seizing point for supplying authority to another. It means you are responsible first for the sake of every member relationally joined to your sphere of influence.
Authority is the life conduit of true submission. Submission is a meaningless word apart from authority. Authority comes from a life source and it is a life source to others. Submission to authority is like plugging in an electrical cord to a wall socket. The authority of electricity within the wall socket can only become effective to electrical devices by the means of a power cord. That power cord is the line of submission to the wall socket. Metaphorically speaking, the power cord must seek out the wall socket and the wall socket must willingly release its power to the power cord through their relational connection. When this connection is made both the wall socket and the electrical device fulfill their purpose. The wall socket can supply electricity to the electrical device, but the electrical device cannot supply power to the wall socket. The electrical device can do the work of a tool, but the wall socket can only supply the power for that tool to operate.
There are various levels and lines of authority. People get into trouble when they cross the authority lines given to them by God. Leaders have authority, but they must never violate the authority God has established within the family or the individual. When a pastor of a church seeks to become the head of the households within the church they cross a boundary line of authority and it becomes a grasping for power that produces some measure of death in the life of those they seek to lead. It will for sure create a measure of dysfunction in their relationship. If a leader robs any individual from the being responsible with his or her own God-given sphere of authority, that leader violates a boundary line of authority. The result will be some measure of dysfunction and death. The voice of the Holy Spirit to the heart of any individual is the highest authority of all. Human conscience is also a level of authority. When a delegated authority violates the authority of the Holy Spirit or even conscience, they damage their own level of delegated authority.
In a family each family member must allow each individual member to make decisions for his or her own personal life. This is not just to allow, but also to require them to make their own decisions. Anything else is not New Covenant. When any one person or entity crosses their line of authority, then God’s authority and power no longer back them. If a husband seeks to control his wife, he violates his responsibility as her husband. He is not her father. He is not her teacher. He is her partner in fulfilling God’s purpose and will in their lives as a family. As the head of the home he is the first to set the example of life in the home. If family headship dictates to a member of the family what they are to do, in violation of the individual’s free will, then they are controlling and dominating in an evil manner. Direction is an expression of authority, lording over others is an illegitimate expression of control. Small children require more direction than teenagers, unless the teenager didn’t receive life-giving direction as a child. Then they exercise their free will in a manner that violates the authority of Holy Spirit and of conscience. These are two levels of authority that are higher than delegated authority.
If a church leader starts demanding that families or individuals do things that should be decided only by them, that church leader’s authority is being abused and God is not behind it. This doesn’t mean that there cannot be commands. Commands are not necessarily control. When commands are given within the boundaries of a God-given authority, they carry a substance of life. Those commands must be given in the spirit of life and not in a spirit of control. They are meant to give life to others, not control them. This is the way of authority. Authority gives life; it never takes from another. Even commands that bring correction to others are meant to be commands of authority that empower them to walk in life.
Titus 2:15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.
2 Thessalonians 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
2 Thessalonians 3:11, 12 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
1 Timothy 4:11, 12 These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 5:7 And these things command, that they may be blameless (rules for widows).
1 Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Philemon 1:8-12 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you–being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ– I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart…
Paul’s objective in these verses was to present the responsibly of walking in authority for the sake of others. This authority was not a means of having control over others, but a responsibility of caring for those within their God-given sphere of influence. That care was to assist them in becoming as God had called them to be for His purpose and will in their lives.
When someone crosses the boundary of his or her own God-given authority the result is less than life giving. There can even be spiritual forces of dysfunction unleashed when boundary lines of authority are violated. When authority is violated it has spiritual, emotional, and even physical consequences. When authority is properly applied with a spirit of life there are spiritual, emotional, and physical blessings.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson