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Leaders with Authority, Leaders under Authority

God, in His sovereignty, has given His church two different accounts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Each of these accounts teaches us about humanity and our relation both to God and to the world into which we were placed.

Genesis 1 emphasizes man as one created with authority. Consider Gen. 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” God created humanity with authority and commissioned them to rule of his creation. Man and Woman were to serve as the vice-regents of God’s kingdom here on earth.

Compare that with the picture of Genesis 2, which emphasizes man as one under authority. In verses 16-17 we read, “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’” Man, for all the authority given to him to rule over creation in Genesis 1, is not the ultimate authority. Man is subject to God.

There is an important leadership principle in there. Leaders are given authority, sometimes positional authority and sometimes authority that falls outside of any formal organizational structures. Yet, for all their authority and influence, they are never the “final answer.” They always remain under God’s authority.

Too many leaders, especially Christian leaders, have fallen into sin. And it is usually precisely because they begin to believe their own hype and begin to see themselves as the ultimate. But they aren’t. They are accountable to God himself and their should always be other humans to whom they report (be it an elder board or a pastoral team). When a Christian leader falls, it is almost without fail the case that they have no accountability.

Leaders are given incredible authority to rule in the particular area into which God has called them. Yet leaders with authority are always to be leaders under God’s authority.

Interact: What are the dangers of  a leader failing to recognize that although they have authority, they are also under authority?


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