Matthew 8:8-9 “the centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority…”
The words of the centurion are interesting there, “for I also am a man under authority”. We don’t often think of Jesus in the context of being under authority, but He was. Jesus ministry was centered on doing the will of His Father in Heaven, even to the point of death. “Not my will, but yours be done” was His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. The centurion was very wise in this matter because he knew somebody who was exercising the power that Jesus exercised must be operating within a structure of authority. I’m not a person who craves authority, and yet throughout life I have often found myself entrusted with it. In large part, I attribute that to honoring the authority that God has placed in my life.
I believe to be a good leader you have to know how to be a good follower. In 2007 I was pastoring an independent church here in Redding, California. The building we were renting was putting a strain on our budget, so I gave my wife the task of searching out a new facility for us. She has a real eye for those things. She set up a meeting between me and the pastor of a church that owned a little A-frame building near where we were currently located. In my meeting with him he suggested that consider joining the Foursquare denomination. I asked him, “Why on Earth would I want to do that?” His answer to me was “because the Foursquare is a family, man.” I’ve since found that to be true, but it’s not primarily why I joined the Foursquare. I realized that I didn’t like being independent very much. There was a void of authority in my life, and I was beginning to pay a price for it, along with my wife, kids, and our church. I was introduced to the Divisional Superintendent of the Foursquare in our area, Pastor Jack Witt, and immediately I knew this was the type of leadership I needed in my life. We gave him license to speak into our lives, and into our ministry. He became to us a man of great authority. But we knew him also to be man under authority, and we honored that. As I now serve as Executive Pastor at the City Church, I can say without any doubt that had I not honored Godly authority I would have never been granted this opportunity. Likewise, had the Centurion not honored authority his life would have been radically different. It’s not just that his servant wouldn’t have been healed; he would have never even risen to the rank of Centurion or merited having a servant.
As Kingdom minded people we have not only different ideas of success from the world, but we have different ways of achieving that success. This is not only true concerning issues of authority. We as Christians have different financial goals. We settle conflicts differently. Here are just few statements I’ve found to be true.
- To be prosperous you have to know how to give.
- The quickest way to end up with nothing is to try to hang on to everything.
- To be lifted up you have to know how to humble yourself.
- To get the victory over an enemy you have to know how to love them.
- To be a good leader you have to know how to be a good follower.
Being a good follower results in power! Jesus did what His father wanted: John 5:19-20 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.”
I believe the key to advancement, whether things related to the Kingdom of God or this world’s systems, is to take the lowly place, honor authority, and work hard.
-Pastor Chris Light