Okay, I wrote it – Authority. Many of you might find that a bad word. You might have personal experience of someone in authority over you treating you in a such a way that tainted your love for this God-concept. Maybe a parent, an employer, dare I say … a pastor. It’s no surprise to any who have paid attention to the news over the past few years that religious leaders abuse authority. The Catholic church has spent millions trying to “settle” the sinful abuses of their leaders. News of “big-time” pastors involved in sex scandals, misappropriating funds, or just changing truth to fit their own desires aren’t things of fiction, but a sad reality. A reality that I, as a religious leader, am very well aware of – many in the world start from a place of mistrust, a place of skepticism, and I can’t blame them … I would too if that’s what I saw.
I’d much rather be under authority than lording it over others. Come to think of it, that’s how a leader keeps from lording it over those he serves. I AM A MAN UNDER AUTHORITY. I am called by God to shepherd His people, with eagerness setting an example for the flock to follow (1 Peter 5:1-3) so that you find it delightful to imitate my faith (Hebrews 13:7). Jesus Christ is the leader of His Church, He is the Senior Pastor, He is the One we all follow. Any spiritual authority the elders of the Church have (of which I am one) is delegated from on High for the good of the people. Being a man under authority is what gives me spiritual authority … and in understanding this, I thank my Puritan predecessors who so diligently labored to lay out a model of pastoral authority and function that I embrace whole-heartedly. Listen as J.I. Packer describes it,
“Spiritual authority is hard to pin down in words, but we recognize it when we meet it. It is a product compounded of conscientious faithfulness to the Bible; vivid perception of God’s reality and greatness; inflexible desire to honor and please Him; deep self-searching and radical self-denial; adoring intimacy with Christ; generous compassion manward; and forthright simplicity, God-taught and God-wrought, adult in its knowing-ness while childlike in its directness. The man of God has authority as he bows to divine authority.” AMEN!!
Over the next few posts I’ll do my best to describe this Puritan model of spiritual authority as it plays itself out in pastoral ministry.
Joyfully Submitted to God,