Monday, July 17, 2017

The Dangerous Place

Being a spiritual leader and having authority is a dangerous thing.  As we remember the Temptation Story of Jesus in the Wilderness, we see One who had authority.  Not even the tempter questioned the authority of Jesus.  Actually, we hear him acknowledging it.  What he did do was to acknowledge that Jesus had authority and then challenge Him to live as if all the rules did not apply to Him.  As One who had authority, He was the exception to the rule.  This core temptation was seen then and it is seen again and again in the lives of those who wear the mantle of spiritual authority.  Jesus resisted the temptation.  We do not always do so.

What makes this authority so dangerous in the lives of spiritual leaders is the way it can lead to a belief that "I am always right and they are always wrong."   Compromise and tolerance can suddenly disappear in the places where leaders take their authority too seriously, or abuse it.  When the authority given is used as the sole means of getting something done, then it is being used in the wrong way, a way that is bringing harm instead of good.  Every spiritual leader faces this temptation; thus, every spiritual leader truly does need to have people who are praying for him or her. 

But, one other thing needed very much in the lives of those given the authority to lead in the church are people given permission by the spiritual leader to say, "No!"  Too many spiritual leaders surround themselves with "Yes" people, people who owe their spiritual leader allegiance instead of honesty.  It makes a perilous perch for those given authority to lead.  Every one wearing the mantle of spiritual authority needs someone who grounds them; otherwise, they aspire for such a lofty place that they forget the real world in which they really live. 

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