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2 Big Ideas To Hold In Working Under Authority

Bryant Westbrook
October 25th, 2019

There are two main benefits to working under authority that took me a while to understand. While I have no problem with authority being over me, I would be crazy if I didn’t admit that sometimes it’s hard working with leaders that you don’t necessarily 100% agree with. My mentors helped me understand these two things about authority that has shaped my view of leadership.

Because of my mentors, I now I understood the great benefits of working under authority which are an asset to the ministry that I oversee. Because I view leadership from this lens now, my attitude is different and my reactions to decisions by leadership are different. Once you realize these two benefits below and apply them, I guarantee you will see a change in your attitude and reactions just like I did. 

AUTHORITY IS PROTECTION

Authority has been placed over us by God and authority is for our protection.

Here’s a basic example: One night at church a student went into an adult classroom and broke something valuable. Once the adults from that class saw what had happened, they became very upset. So upset they took their frustrations out on the senior pastor who happened to be my direct leader. My senior pastor calmly listened to their frustrations and eased the tension. The senior pastor also defended me and helped them understand how I felt about the situation. 

In that story the senior pastor took the direct heat from the congregation. He was the one that heard from the members and he was there to ease the tension while defending me at the same time. My authority that day was a protection for me. When something goes wrong whoever has the authority is most likely to give the first response and take the initial hit.

In this way, having leadership over you is a blessing and not a burden. The reality is your authority figure has the most equity with the congregation. So, if you get them to support you, they’ll be your biggest ally and will go to bat for you.

LEADING STARTS WITH FOLLOWING

The best leaders know what it’s like to be a follower. This is the second thing I’ve learned about working under authority. As leaders that are trying to get better, we’ve got to be the best followers of leadership that we can be.

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)

Jesus says “whoever wants to be first must be a slave.” Meaning, if we want to be better leaders, we’ve got to first be great followers.

I was talking with a mentor recently and I asked the question, “How can I better follow the leadership that is placed over me?” and his answer was “Go and support the vision of your leader.” This helped me understand that my job was not to do whatever I wanted and that it’s not right for me to be upset when leadership doesn’t agree with me. Rather, my job is to listen to leadership and try my best to go and support whatever it is that they say. 

Whoever is leading us should have a vision and idea of where they would like the church to be in the coming years. As followers, we’ve got to ask what that vision is and do our best to support it (yes, even if we don’t 100% agree with it). Why? Because we aren’t the senior pastor and it’s our job to support the vision.

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

I love what Paul said in Romans about honor. I ask myself how can I better honor my leaders. How can I better support their agenda above my own. The way up in the kingdom is down and we’ve got to be the best supporters in the leaders God has put over us.

Bryant Westbrook

Bryant Westbrook is the youth director at First United Methodist Church is Valley Center, KS. Bryant has served as a missionary in Alaska, program staff for YouthWorks, treatment counselor for teens and has a passion for student leadership. Bryant's contact is bryant@fumcvc.com and he blogs at bryantwestbrook.wordpress.com.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.

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