The most effective leaders are leaders who have learned to be under authority.
This may sound contradictory, but strong leaders are broken leaders. This is what we mean, for a leader nothing is harder to learn than learning to walk under authority. If you are wired to lead, it is in your DNA to be out front, to take charge, to assess the situation and make the call. But God is looking for leaders who are willing to submit that drive and energy to His divine plan, to His leadership. For almost all of us that requires the personal brokenness that comes by not getting our way. In other words it comes by learning to be under authority.
The following five points help you understand the process, but we assure you they do not make the process easier .
Learning to be under authority:
- All authority is from God
Don’t read past this too quickly. ALL authority is from God. All of it. The following verse was written by the Apostle Paul to the church located in the city of Rome. Nero was the Caesar.
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” – Romans 13:1
It is true in the political realm, and it is equally true in every other area of life. God has established authority.
- God uses authority to train us and shape us
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” – Romans 8:28-29
God causes all things, including those in authority over us, to work together for our good and ultimately to conform us to look like Jesus.
These first two points lay the foundation for the rest of this blog. God uses authority, even authority which has set itself against the purposes of God, for our good. The ultimate good being that we are made more Christ like.
- God can change the authority and the authorities mind at any time
“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.” – Proverbs 21:1
God controls even the heart of those in authority. In Daniel 4:28-33 God struck a king with madness for 7 years and then put him back in authority. As a result the gentile king Nebuchadnezzar wrote Daniel chapter 4 as a testimony to the power and glory of God.
What does this have to do with leadership?
The person in authority over you is not your enemy.
If the first three points are true, then the authorities over us are God’s tools to make us more Christ like. The frustration we feel when poor or weak authority stands in our way is the resistance we have to God’s hand at work in our individual lives. One of the most common, and may we say perhaps the most painful, tools God uses in our lives is authority over us that we do not like or agree with. But, that employer, pastor, elder, politician, husband, Board of Directors is a tool in the hand of God. Ultimately our response is to God, and not to them.
- The best leaders are followers, of God
- It is in the furnace of learning to deny our personal desires, that the greatest leaders in the kingdom of God are forged.
We may not like the authority we find ourselves under, and they could even be anti-God, but God causes all things to work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. If we continue to see the authority figure as our enemy, we will never learn the lessons we desperately need to learn and we will ultimately become like them.
Remember and act on Paul’s words to Timothy, “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
There is a lot more we could say about leadership, but these first 5 principles lay the foundation.