The Good and Bad Kind of Authority of a Leader

??????????Leadership is authority. There is no other way around that fact. But in today’s culture we don’t like authority. We don’t’ like being told what to do. We don’t like following authority or obeying authority. We like to become self-made people by each of us rebelling against the same authority (there is irony in that).

But I want to talk about the authority of a leader. Because I still believe that leadership is authority, but the type of authority really matters. Because there are different kinds of authority. There is authority that is based in power, and authority that’s based in gift (people choosing to follow and give you permission to lead).

And this distinction between the kinds of authority is so necessary. And the trouble is that most leaders haven’t consciously decided which type of authority they will rely on. The authority based in power (you have to do what I say) or the authority based in permission (you listen because you choose to).

In my role I’ve decided to never use coercive authority based in power. I could, lots of pastors do, especially when things get sticky and messy. They might say, “I am God’s anointed”, or “I’m the leader”, or even worse “I speak for God”. And the same temptation is for all leaders. That when things get tough, when stress rises, when there is crisis people reach to use power rather than authority based in grace that is given.

Parker Palmer gets at the difference when he writes this,

“The authority such a leader needs is not the same as power. Power comes to anyone who controls the tools of coercion, which ranges from grades to guns. But authority comes only to those who are granted it by others.”

So my question for you is this: what kind of leadership are you using? Is it based in power, or authority, based in grace and gift from others? Do people follow you because they “have to” or because “they want to”. And you might think that in the end the results are the same – as long as the job gets done. But it’s not – why people follow or listen to you is just as important as the outcome it produces.

So in your leadership with your authority is it power based – or people based? Because that small difference makes all the difference.

The Women in Jesus’ Life and In Ours

1422766_42566222On Sunday we looked at the story of Jesus and the influence of women on the story of Jesus. And this matters because today in our world we still seem to set the bar lower for women. But the point is that Jesus didn’t – so Christians shouldn’t either. The first person to meet the divine in flesh was a woman – Mary.

The first person to discover that Jesus was the Messiah was a woman – the woman at the well.

The first person to discover the resurrected Jesus and be the first witness to the miracle that changed the world – Mary in the Garden.

The point is that women are central to the story of Jesus. And not just central because Mary, Jesus’ mother, gave birth to Jesus.

Mary did not change the world because she was a mother. I know that sounds controversial but it really isn’t. Mary changed the world because she was obedient and said yes to God. Before Mary was a mother, she said yes to God. That yes changed the world, through her giving birth to Jesus, but birthing Jesus didn’t happen before she said yes.

The point is that Mary matters not firstly because she birthed Jesus, but because she first said yes to God. Motherhood is not the highest calling of a woman in the Jesus story; obedience, faithfulness, and saying yes to God in his various callings is the most important thing.

So that’s what we looked at on Sunday; how important woman were to Jesus’ story. How in Luke 8 we read that women financed Jesus ministry. How Jesus radically included and welcomed women into his ministry. How Jesus bypasses social barrier to remind us that God welcomes each person.

And as we reflected on this reality we shifted to think about ourselves. If women were this central in shaping the Jesus story, who has been central in shaping our personal stories? What woman has supported us, said yes to us, and been faithful to us that made us who we are? Whose investment shaped the direction of our lives?

And after thinking of that we left with one challenge: to go and thank them. To thank them for their prayers, their support, their investment. Whether they  happened to be our mothers, grandmothers, aunt, friend, community friend – whatever – to thank those women who made our stories better. Because that’s what the gospels insightfully reveal about Jesus. That women made his story fuller and better, and I can say it’s the same in my life. So why not thank them for that.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Without women there would be no story of Jesus

Take Aways…

  • Women are central to the story of Jesus.
  • Not only are women central to Jesus story, but our stories as well.
  • Jesus interaction with women was revolutionary at the time
  • “Jesus actions towards women were controversial, provocative, and even revolutionary” Joel Hamilton
  • But what we see in Jesus is God available to everyone
  • Mary didn’t change the world because she was a mother, but because she was obedient.
  • Changing lives begins by saying yes to God.
  • God bypasses barriers to communicate directly
  • Women matter in this story of God.

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? Had you realized the important role women played in Jesus life before? What women have played an important role in your life? How did they impact and influence you? How can you show them your thanks today?

Discussion Questions / Actions for Young Families: Today talk to your kids about the importance of valuing the women in our lives. Have them share who some of the important women are in their lives. Decide on a way to show them that you are grateful for them today – and then do it.

Challenge for this Week: Thank those women who have changed us today

Mothers Day and The Women in Our Lives

931217_47664381On Sunday we are looking at how women shaped the story of Jesus. Because even though we might be familiar with it the fact is this: without women there would be no story of Jesus.

And I just don’t mean that without Mary giving birth to Jesus, there wouldn’t be a story of Jesus. I mean without the support, financing, investment, and connection that Jesus has with women there would be no story of Jesus. 

So that’s what I want to look at how women shape and influence Jesus’ story, and also ours as well.

But before we get there why not think about that a little bit this weekend. What women have influenced and shaped your life? Not only maybe your mom, but grandmothers, aunts, nieces, school teachers, friends, adopted mothers, co-workers, bosses, or neighbours.

What women have shaped your story and have you said thank you?

That’s a good place to begin before we get to Sunday.

Welcome to Leadership…

Being a leader is a calling. And it is a deep calling. It’s not always easy. But oftentimes the most difficult of paths, are the most worthwhile. But here is the interesting thing about leadership…we’re all leaders.

Yes we are all leaders to some extent. Leadership is influence over others, so the point isn’t whether or not you have it, but how you are using it. My guess is that you have influence with someone in your life whether that be a child, spouse, co-worker, or a friend. So the big question then isn’t if you are a leader but are you leading well?

I bet if you look back on your life some of the biggest leaders in your life we’re regular everyday people who shaped you. They were your parents, your coach, a teacher, a friend, a boss, and maybe even a pastor. So the question I really want to pursue and dive into is, how do we become the type of leaders that leave lasting influence?

That’s really what I want to look at on Monday night here at the church. We are going to be a having a night focusing on building and developing our influence and leadership. Since I believe leadership is something we all do, it’s open to everyone: business people, homemakers, retirees, students, and regular every-bodies. So it’s open to you. Just let me know if you’re interested in coming.  It starts at 7.

And then this week as your interacting with friends, family, and neighbors ask yourself: what kind of legacy am I leaving? What kind of influence and impact?

My guess is…is that if you ask that question you’re on the right path…