Honor Those Under Our Authority
Honoring those who serve under our leadership is as important as honoring our authorities. In fact, we are believers today because of the way in which the Lord Jesus Christ honored His Father and continues to honor those who serve and follow Him.
Jesus' Example. While He was on Earth among His disciples, Jesus never reminded them of their shady pasts, their lack of education, the blunders they made while learning how to trust God--not even their betrayal and abandonment in His greatest hour of need.
Instead, Jesus attached high worth to those who followed Him. He confided in them and patiently explained spiritual truths in terms they could understand (see John 15:14-16; Matt. 13:10-52).
Jesus listened to His disciples even when they were being petty (see Mark 10:35-45). He made sure their basic physical needs were being met, prayed for them and shared His glory with them (see Mark 8:1-8; John 17:22-26).
He looked beyond gender and economic status into His followers' hearts. Jesus both expected the best from them and made great promises to them that He kept.
Christ comforted the disciples in their weaknesses until the end. After He had seemingly left them at the cross, He reappeared to encourage them and told them how to carry on in the power of the Holy Spirit, whom He would send in His absence (see John 20:19-31; Acts 1:1-8).
The way in which the Lord passed on the kingdom to his future leaders was flawless. With His blessing and anointing upon them, they turned the world upside down.
Jesus honored the men and women under His authority every step of the way. He never mocked or ridiculed them. Neither did He devalue or distrust those who walked with Him, even though, in their weaknesses, they failed at times.
Christ knew that His disciples would learn and that learning would take time. He lovingly invested that time. He valued them, and they knew it. In response, they were willing to give up everything to follow Him.
David, in honoring Saul, honored Jehovah; Jesus honored His Father God. Because they adhered to God's methods and plan, they did not fail.
Likewise, we will succeed in ministering effectively if we honor God and esteem those who lead us as well as those we are given authority to lead.
God has equipped us as women with many unique strengths that are needed for effective ministry and leadership. When we value and esteem others, we can fulfill the requirements for both these roles extremely well.
However, when we disrespect authorities or treat those we lead as expendable tools for our own promotion, we fail to maintain godly relationships. Crossing the line from disrespect to hatred can become easy for us, unless we remember the lesson of Calvary.
Finding the Cross
As Christians we don't always do it right. At times when spears are thrown at us, we may pull one or two right out of the wall and heave them back. Or when we are betrayed by someone into whose life we have poured our own, we may be tempted to bitterly denigrate him or her to our friends.
Instead, we must return to the cross when we've been hurt and quickly repent of the temptation to be unforgiving. God will lovingly deal with the sin lodged in our own hearts and bring healing for our wounds, but if we have spoken bitter words toward another person, apologies must be made that are sincere and heartfelt in order to restore fellowship that is honoring toward her or him.
As ministry leaders, sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking we are the center of everything. When that happens, our leadership style can become dictatorial, and we resort to surrounding ourselves with "yes men" in order to retain power and keep our ministries going. At such a time, God, in His mercy, will become the Hound of Heaven, pursuing us with conviction until we humble ourselves at His feet.
We must find our way to the cross. It is the most important path we will travel in life. And we will do it time and time again.
Every time we will discover that the joy of repentance and the delight of being cleansed as we forgive will never grow old. Honoring relationships are re-established when we repent of our sin. As Jesus reassures us of His love, He clears our vision and sets us right again.
If it is our desire to refrain from dishonoring others, then daily we must pray this prayer of David's: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23-24, NIV).
Then God will show us our weaknesses and give us grace to love others and lead them unselfishly. In His presence, through worship and prayer, we will experience His humility.
We will be changed into His likeness, and as we are, our natural tendency will be to acknowledge the worth of those He created, for His leadership will take root in our hearts.
Joyce Strong is a teacher, conference speaker, counselor and author of several books.
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