How do you exercise authority without dominating and controlling those you lead or oversee? Paul said that his exercise of authority was not to control how the Corinthians lived out their faith but as partners, working alongside, influencing the development of the Corinthians’ own faith. Dominating others creates dependency or leads to resentment and rebellion. Authority exercised by influence in relationship fosters initiative and growth and leads to partnership and mutual respect.
This principle applies in all sorts of relationships of involving leadership and exercise of authority. Eugene Peterson writes in his introduction to 2 Corinthians in the Message translation of the Bible; “Because leadership is necessarily an exercise of authority, it easily shifts into an exercise of power. But the minute it does that it begins to inflict damage on both the leader and the led.”
Parents must learn to negotiate the tension between exercising authority and allowing children to take appropriate initiative. Externally imposed control must lead to internally applied self-discipline. Parental command gives way to counsel, and parental authority gives way to influence.
Our aim as leaders must be that authority becomes counsel, that dependency becomes maturity, that control yields to freedom. May we lead in such a way that those under our influence are able to stand in their own faith!
Father, Please help me to understand the difference between authority and power, between authority and control, and to walk the fine line between the wise use of authority that builds and develops others and the unwise use of power that controls and holds others back. Amen.
Your Own Faith
Reading: 2 Corinthians 1; Psalm 2
We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours. (2 Corinthians 1:24 MSG)
But that does not mean we want to tell you exactly how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy as you stand firm in your faith. (2 Corinthians 1:24 NL
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