If you believe what was said last week, that to lead your children and others to Christ is the kindest gift you can give, then you will want to explore the next starting position that parents and trainers must assume:
God-given authority kindles a confident leadership in the gospel that leads to Christ.
In order to gain confident leadership in the gospel, we must
- Cultivate an inner disposition of authority
- Establish an outward position of authority
What’s at stake here?
Our Culture is averse to authority. Post moderns question everything that hints at power. So, we tend toward a culture of facilitators rather than leaders. We have the mistaken idea that we cannot both serve and lead. This is especially true of many contemporary parents. Just ask yourself the questions:
Do my children determine the atmosphere of our family?
Do my children set the mealtime routine and menu in our home? [hint: check the pizza bill.]
Do my children set the sfamily schedule?
Do my children choose the church our family attends?
It is also true of the contemporary church. Church leadership asks often of it membership, “What do you need?” Yet new followers of Christ need a leader who can say, “Here is what you really need!”
Children and new followers of Christ have to be “in a position” to be confidently led under God-given authority. We must submit to the care of those God has placed over us. We cannot be “independent brokers” in the training process.
Young followers of Christ, look at Timothy’s relationship with Paul: He submitted to Paul’s confident leadership under God-given authority. Timothy accepted Paul’s authority as an “Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” Some of us are suffering because we will not place ourselves under God’s authority. God has assigned people to train us and care for us. Even Pastors thrive under the discipling authority of mentors. And Elders thrive under the discipling authority of their pastor and other older men. This is the normal Christian life. That’s why Paul says that when believers are filled with the Holy Spirit they “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ…” (Eph. 5:21)
Children, you have been given parents to train you in the gospel, to lead you to Christ. Ephesians 6:1-3 says that you are to “obey your parents in the Lord for this is right” and “Honor your father and your mother.” The book of Proverbs gives us a picture of how this looks in practice: Proverbs 1:8, 2:2:1, 3:1 4:1, 10, 20. At every point, the child is giving his eyes and his ears to his father and mother, respecting them, ready to be trained by them.
Parents, God gave you the authority and the responsibility to train your children to walk in the gospel. Deuteronomy 6 reminds us that we are to teach our children the words of God and Ephesians 6 tells us to “raise them [our children] in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” If we do not win the battle of the wills with our children, they will either rule the atmosphere and values of the family, or they will engage in incessant guerrilla warfare with us until they either leave or are kicked out of the house.
However, winning the battle of the wills is not the goal of parenting, it is the first step of bringing your children under your training. If you win this battle, there are two results:
- Your child will be more likely to grow into a healthy person
- Your child will be more likely to follow Christ. By submitting to the grace the Holy Spirit offers them through their believing parents.
So parents, when you train your children with God-given authority you prepare them for Christ and a life of submission to Him in His church. Parenting is always about Christ. Always point to Him: He is the authority to whom you submit. He is the One most offended at sin. He is the ultimate Provider and Protector.
Eli’s sons were church-yard bullies, throwing orgies in the temple courts. And all Eli could say to them was “Why are you doing these things?” Eli, for all his greatness, was a feckless, faulty father who did not understand authority well enough to lead his family.
I hope you see how critical is a position of authority as you parent or train in the gospel. But it is possible to operate the machinery of authority, yet have a life void of personal authority.
True authority comes from within. the Greek word for authority is “Exousia” which means that authority is primarily something that comes “out of one’s essence”. It comes from who we are. So how can we… Cultivate an inner disposition of authority ?
An inner disposition of authority is cultivated through submission to Christ, a relationship modeled by Paul in verse 1. Every true follower of Christ has the privilege of being personally trained to walk in the gospel by Christ Himself. Paul was an Apostle , a “sent one”. That means that Paul was at Christ’s disposal. Also, Hear that preposition of attachment, “of”? Paul belonged to Christ, whose purpose for His followers is that they increasingly delight in being with and following Him. (Mark 8:34-38); that His love produce in them a ready obedience to His will. “If you love me, you will do what I command.”
The longer we follow Christ and the more we are trained by Him, the more His authority will reside in us. It will simply be part of who we are. Knowing the authoritative Christ makes us confident of His authority as we lead others. Think about Peter and John as they stood before the powerful Jewish Sanhedrin. There was something amazing about these two men. As Acts 4:13 says,
“” Now they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated anduntrained men, they wer amazed and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.”
Parents, Do you want your children to think you are amazing? Then look at the impact of God-given authority.
- Matthew 7:28-29 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
- Matthew 9:8 8 But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
- Mark 1:27 They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”
Jesus said, “I did not come to be served but to serve and to give My life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). There is no servant greater than Christ. There is no one with more authority.
The outward order of authority is necessary. The inward disposition of authority is essential. Will those we serve with confident leadership recognize by our authority that we have been with Jesus?