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Summary: Working harmoniously alongside church leaders has its challenges and raises a lot of questions. Fortunately, God does not leave us in the dark! The text before us raises and answers a number of questions about the interaction of church leaders to the c

Both Sides of Authority

(I Thessalonians 5:12-13)

1. It is tough to be in leadership.

2. A “lame duck” President met with his successor in the Oval Office. Near the end of the orientation, he presented the incoming leader three numbered envelopes, with specific instructions to open them, in order, when great difficulties arose.

After the new President completed his “honeymoon” period with the media and the public, the nation experienced an economic downturn. He opened the first envelope. Inside was a card that read: “Blame me.” So he did, criticizing the former administration.

After a while, social upheaval brought about a critical domestic crisis. The President opened the second envelope. Inside was a card that read: “Blame my party.” He did so, in an overt display of partisan politics.

About a year later, foreign policy resulted in serious problems and the President opened the third envelope. Inside, the card read: “Prepare three envelopes.”

3. No one is ever completely satisfied with his or her leaders.

4. Whether we are talking about parents, teachers, bosses, or church leaders, our expectations are always higher than reality.

5. But the situation also works in reverse: no leader is ever completely satisfied with all those he leads.

6. So the problem works two ways, and we want to see the problem only from our angle.

7. Why are authority issues so big?

• Cultural Issues: Baby Boomers hate authority.

• Abuse of Authority: Only God’s authority is absolute

• Some leaders meddle where they do not belong

• Others manipulate

• Confusing Authority with Conformity (going along does not equal approving)

8. Authority issues are connected closely to the heart of sin, which is the control issue.

• Lucifer to Satan: issue, control

• Eve eats of the fruit: issue, control

• Church conflicts: control

9. The heart of sin is control.

The heart of following leadership is voluntarily relinquishing some control.

Therefore, authority issues can easily arouse sinful responses and bring out

the worst in people.

10. Generally, when leaders and followers have a balanced perspective regarding authority, few authority issues arise.

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Main Idea: Working harmoniously alongside church leaders has its challenges and raises a lot of questions. Fortunately, God does not leave us in the dark!

The text before us raises and answers a number of questions about the interaction of church leaders to the church family.

I. Why Does Paul ASK Rather than Command? (12a)

A. Because ATTITUDES cannot be coerced

1. It is kind of like leadership issues in the home; if a man is constantly playing the authority card, he is a poor leader. Good leaders build consensus, negotiate, and make compromised so that, almost always, everyone is on board. They understand relationships, and they know that coercion takes a chunk out of relational harmony. So they save their authority card for when it is really needed.

2. People get so caught up in what should be that they deny what is!

3. Even God adjusts to human realities (concessions)…

• Gideon and the fleece

• A king for Israel

• Sending Aaron with Moses

• some believers are more idealistic than God

B. Because He Himself demonstrated BALANCED leadership

1. Paul was not afraid to use his authority, but he preferred not to do so

2. He wanted to relate to fellow believers, not militarize them

Working harmoniously alongside church leaders has its challenges and raises a lot of questions. Fortunately, God does not leave us in the dark!

II. What Are the RESPONSIBILITIES of Pastors and Elders? (12c)

A. WORK hard for their flock

B. Use their AUTHORITY to help their flock

--authority can be an ego trip or can be misused for personal agendas

1. Not blanket permission for ANYTHING

2. Leaders accountable to the CHURCH at large

3. Leaders are to OVERSEE the church and ENABLE people to serve

• Some leaders prefer to keep their people helpless so they can have control

• They would never train anyone because they want others to be dependent on them

• Elders job: to develop others to serve and reach maturity via edification

Eph. 4:11-13, "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

A little girl had been trying for months to learn how to tie her shoes. She finally got the knack of it and was able to do it by herself. Her parents expected delight in the child but were surprised by her disappointment. He father asked her why she was crying, She sobbed, “I just learned to tie my own shoe,” He said, “That’s wonderful sweetie. Why are you crying?” She replied, “because now I’ll have to do it all by myself for the rest of my life.” (Sermoncentral)

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