POWER AND AUTHORITY
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LIKE A SHEPHERD LEAD US
Introduction to the selection of additional elders: We are starting this year at West-Ark in prayer and reflection asking God to give us wisdom to recognize additional elders. We will begin taking up nominations for elders during a period from January 28th through February 4th. Following this we will enter into a period in mid February in which the church may affirm those with the widest nominations. Lord willing, we will have additional elders on March 4. The details of this process will be published in written form for all to review. What we ask of every member during the next two months is to be prayerful and reflective. Let this congregation be the instrument through which God calls out men who are gifted and qualified to shepherd the flock. If we enter into this time with faith and trust and God this will be one of the most encouraging moments in our story.
During the sermons on Sunday morning and the presentations on Sunday evening I will offer studies aimed at reflecting on the biblical teachings about church leadership. We begin with the foundational teachings of our Lord about Power and Authority in the Church Family ...
Typical Models of Power and Authority
- Executive. [The CEO] Defined by ultimate authority. Success is critical. This power is given to the leader to execute action.
- Representational. Power that is accountable to the people, or more accurately the majority. The nature of this type of power and authority is for you and me to give power to others so that our interests will be considered. New congress sworn in and started legislation this week. No doubt, some of us feel well represented, and some do not.
- Positional. The office or rank is what defines power. Giving attention to the office/rank and the chain of command or order of succession is what makes this model work. [Jim Nicholson is 15th in line for the presidency. He is Secretary for Veterans Affairs. Nicholson may be a fine person, but the path to president simply comes with the office.] This type of power has always been the most fun for me. Does a Field Marshall outrank a Commodore? I had a U.S. Military rank and insignia poster my father gave me on the wall of my room as a young man and I had it memorized. Positional power is the simplest model. It isnt as messy or confusing as the others. Everybody is expected to know their place and respect the structure.
Which Model is Best for Gods Family? To answer this lets read Mark 10:35-45
Which Model is Best for Gods Family [observations]
- Jesus does not assume the authority to give rank those seats at his left and right are positional power. Jesus will not assign ranks. Thats not what he does with his power.
Jesus hears that theres an argument among all the disciples when they hear that James and John are jockeying for power. Some of the others had dibs on the second level of command. Others didnt like the way they were lobbying Jesus. It was unfair that they should try to sell themselves like that. It may not have been that they thought James and John too ambitious, they just wish they had thought of it first! But while they are arguing over who gets to ride shotgun, Jesus turns this into a teachable moment. We need to pay attention to this ...
- James and John want Jesus to respond to their interests. They are appealing to a sort of representational power. We want you to do for us whatever we ask.
- Jesus asks them: What do you want me to do for you?
- Jesus says that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over their people. Ultimate authority and autocratic power was the norm in many of the pagan cultures. Rome had a military, positional power structure. The emperor was given the title of first-citizen and magnificent.
- Jesus says Not so with you. Notice this! Jesus departs from the ways of the world. He sets aside aspirations and expectations of other power structures. Executive, positional, even representational power structures are not appropriate. In Gods family there is a different type of power and authority.
- The first and greatest is the servant of all.
- This is the model of power and authority that the Son of Man modeled. He did not come to be served, but to serve. And it is a sacrificial service, not just PR.
- Read Mark 10:46-52. Notice that Jesus asks Bartimaeus the same question he asked James and John. What do you want me to do for you? The Sons of Thunder asked Jesus to Lord it Over them and to help them Lord It Over others. Bartimaeus asks for mercy. He wants to see. He seeks the Son of Man who serves others.
This new model of power and authority that Jesus is teaching us is on display vividly in John 13.
The Servant Model (Read John 13:1-17)
- Jesus loves his followers. (v. 1).
- He knows that the Father gave him power over EVERYTHING (v. 3). God the Father has placed all things under the authority of Jesus. He is co-equal with God. He has come from God and will return to God. Jesus has been given the power and authority to legitimately lord it over anyone and anything.
- So, what does Jesus do with this awesome power? He gets up from his place of prominence. He takes off his good jacket. He wraps a towel around his waist and takes a bowl of water and washes the stinky, dirty feet of his disciples. Its a slaves job. It is menial work. Jesus uses his awesome God-given power to do the work of a servant (v. 4)!!
- Have you ever noticed anxiety when someone of high rank does work that seems to be beneath them? People get excited and try to find another to do the work.
- This is how Peter responds to Jesus: Jesus isnt acting presidential. Hes not acting like an officer and a gentleman. He is showing weakness and taking up a role beneath his station. It is unbecoming.
- According to Jesus, this sort of thinking is the problem with the world. Until his disciples understand loving, sacrificial, servant leadership they will not understand what the power and authority of the Father are really about.
Lets apply this to our church family ... Do You Understand What Jesus Is Teaching Us?
What are we looking for in leaders? Who is being led? What are being led to? What is it that need leading? We are being led to be like Christ, just as Christ was like the Father.
- If our Lord served and led in humble ways, why do we think it should be different with us? (vv. 14, 16)
- Christ set an example that we should follow in all things -- especially church leadership (v. 15) No servant is greater than his master. And there is no authority or power in the church higher than Christ. Not elders, or ministers, or deacons, or any other title, rank or office we can imagine. It doesnt matter how long we have been a part of a congregation or how much weve contributed. It doesnt matter how much we know. Christ is Lord.
- Speaking of knowledge: If we know these things, we will be blessed if we do them. (v. 17). We have got to put this teaching of Christ into practice. It isnt just a nice sentiment that we can give lip service to. We are all servants of one another. If you want rank, then were all just a bunch of grunts some of us have been grunting a little longer and they can teach us a little something.
I remember receiving some G. I. Joe toys when I was a very, very young. In those days I didnt know anything about rank and file. My dad gave me a small military style footlocker to put those toys in. He had put my name on it Army style. It said: General Chris Benjamin. I asked him Whats a General? He said, Thats the highest rank in the Army. I asked, Are you a General? He chuckled, No, Im just a Sergeant. I said back to him, Well, thats what I want to be, too. I want to be just like you. In my innocent view of power and authority I could care less about Generals, Captains, Sergeants, or CEOs, Presidents, and Kings. I just wanted to be like my father.
Thats a good model for leadership in the church family: Lets just be like our Father. Lets just be like His Son, Jesus Christ.
Not so With You [Mark 10] We can make the same mistake that James and John did. Misconceptions about power and authority.
We might think of CEOs of managers of an institution. We might think that the goal is profit/success. (But God has won the victory.) Executive power.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 7 January 2007
Like a Shepherd Lead Us
Power and Authority
January 7, 2007
Models of Power and Authority
Which Model is Best for Gods Family? (Mark 10:35-52)
- Jesus does not assume the a____________ to give r________.
- James and John want Jesus to respond to their i____________.
- Jesus says that the rulers of the Gentiles l_____ ___ _______ their people.
- Jesus says N____ ___ with ______.
- The f_________ and g____________ is the s____________ of all.
- This is the model of power and authority that the S____ ___ _______ modeled.
The Servant Model (John 13)
- Jesus l____________ his followers. (v. 1)
- He knows that the Father gave him power over _______________. (v. 3)
- He uses his power to do the work of a ___________ ________. (v. 4)
Do You Understand What Jesus Is Teaching Us?
- If our Lord s__________ and l______ in humble ways, why do we think it should be d_____________ with us? (vv. 14, 16)
- Christ set an e___________ that we should follow in all things -- especially church l__________________. (v. 15)
- If we _________ these things, we will be blessed if we __ them. (v. 17)
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 7 January 2007
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