War: Authority

Posted: 01.08.2010 in war
Tags: ,

Authority is a concept that we as Americans tend to bristle against.  But, it exists all around us: at school, at work, in war, in peace, in nature, and in the family even. It allows for people to know who sets the vision, who makes the call, and ultimately, where the buck stops.

I have been talking with my lovely one about a frustrating situation where a Christian organization uses its authority and power in a way that perpetuates fear and control.   They want to raise up kids as Christians who will engage the world for God.   They have a series of individual (mostly) autonomous groups which are overseen by a strong centralized, totalitarian style government.  Which is funny because according to this group, the direct opposite of Biblical Theism on a worldview scale is… Socialism.  Bet you didn’t see that coming.  So, this Christian organization not only operates with a fair amount of hypocrisy, they don’t have a very good grasp on what a biblical approach to authority is.

When looking at the way that God engages authority, it comes at a stark contrast to what we commonly see.  Biblical use of authority is about giving power away.  It is a constant throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament.  God allowed Himself to be swayed by Moses’ insistence that he needed someone who could speak better.  God listened to Joshua and the sun stood still in the sky.  God listened to the Israelites and let them have a king.   And so on.  Jesus comes in the New Testament period and is identifying constantly with the marginalized, by lifting them up.  To the point of not just dying, but stepping out of the way so that the disciples could have the Holy Spirit, so that they could move forward in His stead.  How many people in authority do you know like that?

As you or I war on behalf of people and God, we are called to give authority away.  How do you do this?

  1. LittleCuzAMG says:

    Ok, so I started writing a reply that was quite a bit longer than the original post, so I’m just going to answer the question:

    I don’t see it as giving authority away, so much as making sure we don’t elevate ourselves above others. The best practice I’ve found is help each other discover and develop our gifts and find the places our talents will be most effective. The thing we must always keep in mind is that we all need to work together and use our talents no matter how seemingly insignificant they are.

    The goal must be to spread the love of God to others through this practice. For there is truth in love, and though not everyone will call it that, their hearts will recognize it and desire it.

  2. Sean says:

    My answer is no more ambigious (however you spell it) than the question. You can’t.

    • Think of it this way: Think of your job. Either you are under others or are over others or both. How is authority used? Does the boss seek to be double checking everything you do? Does s/he give you freedom to utilize your skills/abilities to get work done? Do you for the people under your care? Do things have to be done your boss’ (or your) way, or is there too much fear that you will take over? Are you training or being trained into more responsibility? Giving authority away is about giving freedom to people to engage as they will (not without any parameters, but with the fullness of who they are). It is also not about trying to get power for yourself, but for others. Giving authority away creates room for creativity, innovation, and repentence as needed. Have you had bosses who were out for their own selves vs. ones that protected those under them. What do you think?

      • Sean says:

        Michael I am going to take your line of questions at face value. In my job as an electrician, I am both under my foreman and over my apprentice in chain of command. This is a line of authority that is based on skill level determined by,among other things, knowledge in both theory and practice.Freedom is aquired through the demonstration of those skills and abilities. My apprentic and I are both expected to take on challenges that are above and beyond our demonstrated capabilities, sometimes on a daily basis, with guidance from those above us.It is up to my foreman to guide me in a safe manner, and up to me to do the same for my apprentice. The idea is to constantly train to a higher level marked by milestones such as Journeyman, Foreman, and Master. Gaining the “power” for yourself is completely up to you. You do not need to take a Journeymans test if you do not want to. Should you choose not to, you will never progress to the next step(not legally anyway). Electricians are problem solvers for the most part.We are given the ability to be creative and innovative by showing up on the job everyday and has almost nothing to do with our status in the hierarchy. There are parameters set forth by The Code which we must abide by for the safety of ourselves and others. This brings us to repentence. Well, if I mess up I get killed, or worse yet, kill someone else.Either way, I really won’t have a way to ask for forgiveness. For the most part, I would say everyone is out for them selves to some degree or another. Eh, human nature.
        What do I think? I think that if I insert the word “god” in place of the word “boss” (as implied by the very nature of this forum) I come up with the same general answers. I cannot decide if that is hilarious or disturbing. What do YOU think?

  3. Socialism was supposed to be the opposite of totalitarianism. Everything belongs to the people. The great irony of the 20th century socialist states was that they became so totalitarian.

    To answer your question. Giving authority away -is- my job. This is supposed to be a student-initiated movement, so when things are working right, the students are initiating. And I’m empowering, training, advocating, and providing resources. If I do my job right, a student will replace me in time. (And not too much time, either.)

  4. Annie says:

    Mikey! I am reading through your blog for the first time. It’s fun to get a glimpse inside your head. You were always a very thoughtful guy and I see that hasn’t changed. 🙂

    I’m just so curious to know what organization you are referring to! From my limited experience, it seems a LOT of children’s/parenting ministries are really wrapped up in fear, which turns into getting wrapped up in control. E.g. James Dobson, Focus on the Family etc.

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