If you’ve ever been a leader, then you’ve probably had somebody question your leadership. “Why do you get to choose? What makes you better than us? You can’t tell me what to do! You’re a hypocrite!” More often than not, this goes on behind your back, and you may never even hear about it. Truth is, if you’ve ever been led, you’ve done this to your leaders.
I asked my wife a few years ago what kind of emotions the word authority stirred up in her, and she said, “Only bad”. Authority is a bad word. We don’t want other people to have authority over us. We relentlessly look for hypocrisy in our leaders and immediately call them on the carpet for it. We instinctively distrust anyone in a position of authority.
What do you do when someone questions your leadership? Your character? Your motives? It’s the easiest thing in the world to abuse the power you’ve been given as a leader. One way we do this is to silence opposition, to crush those who question you and tear them to pieces.
When you feel tempted to use your authority in destructive ways, remember that any authority or leadership you have over others has been given to you by God. When speaking of his authority in the church at Corinth, Paul described it this way: The authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. Paul understood that God granted him authority in the churches so that he would build them up, not tear them down. God intends for power to be used constructively. He has authorized you to build others, not to destroy them.
Leaders (and that includes pastors, business leaders, parents, teachers, etc.), you may want to unleash the full power of your fury on someone under your leadership, but you must not. You may be tempted to defend yourself at the expense of someone else’s reputation, but you must resist. It’s up to you to show those under your leadership what it means to lay down your life, to refuse your rights, and to build up others at the expense of your own reputation and vindication. God has only authorized you to build.