Healthy and unhealthy spiritual authority1
And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
- Philippians 3:15b
Yesterday, we heard from Alex about Paul's desire to "know the surpassing worth of knowing Christ" (v. 8). This summarizes a theologically tricky and relationally challenging section of Paul's letter to the church in Philippi.
Paul then turns and says this: "And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you." Paul manages to be exhortational and instructional without being dictatorial. It's beautiful...and a hard line to walk.
Paul's work of leadership - his work of exhortation and instruction - comes from a submitted place, not from a superior place. He doesn't look down on the Philippians. He looks up to the Lord and so has the confidence to both a) tell the Philippians what he thinks they should do and believe AND b) trust that God will make it clear to them if they see it differently.
Paul doesn't lead as if the Lord is absent. And this makes his leadership healthy.
There are healthy and unhealthy forms of spiritual authority. Maybe you've encountered some of both. Our prayer is that in our small group leaders, deacons, elders, and other ministry leaders you can see great models of men and women who lead with humility and skill.
Where have you encountered healthy and unhealthy spiritual authority? What did that look like?
As an application exercise, would you take a moment right now to pray that the Lord would help you be healthy in the places where you exercise spiritual authority? Would you also pray for the people who lead you, that God would help them be healthy in their exercise of authority?
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