6. When followed, results in fruitful
ministry. God places the gifts
of people into the church for the upbuilding of the church; therefore, it seems
likely that when people respond to these graces of God, the result will be
fruitful ministry (Eph. 4; Jn. 15:16; Heb. 13:17). Why is this? Because of
7. Builds up the church. Spiritual authority is for blessing
and upbuilding, not for tearing down or usurping (2 Cor. 5:16; 10:7). This is
not about quantity. This is about quality and health of ministry. Legitimate
spiritual authority builds up. It adds to, not subtracts from.
8. Sees people as they truly are (from God’s perspective). This leader
sees what people can be in Christ. He sees what they can be as they are
being transformed by God. He does not see anyone as hopeless (though he may not
see how God will ever get
through to the person). That is why people who are under this type of oversight
flourish. They know they are accepted and begin to imitate the same faith in
the power of God to remake human beings that their leader displays (2 Cor.
10:8; 12:19; 13:10).
9. Is faithful. This leader has suffered through years of barrenness and has
persevered. This leader realizes that he who is given a trust must prove
faithful (1 Cor. 4:2). The fruitful years did not precede years of testing. For
the leader’s character must be able to withstand successful ministry. Perhaps
it would be worth researching if there exists a correlation: the greater the assignment, the longer the
10. Reminds us of
God’s Word. This leader is not
interested in airing his
opinions on every matter under the sun, but rather he points us to the Word of
God. This includes God’s word heard in the prayer-closet. Thus he shares the
whole counsel of God with those under his care.
This leader shows the way for us to follow. He is already walking on that way.
In daily life, we see the “outcome of their [the leaders’] way of life.” As a
result, we see Jesus in them and are encouraged to follow and imitate their
faith (Heb. 13:7).
11. Demonstrates a life of God’s power made
perfect in weakness. This leader’s
strength comes from the sure knowledge that the only real strength comes from
yielding to God’s power and strength at work in him/her (1 Cor. 4:20 cf.
2:1–16). For this leader, God is his portion (Psalm 73:23–28). This leader is
publicly and privately forthright and honest about shortcomings and faults.
12. Is sensitive to God’s communication.
Revelation is central to spiritual authority. We cannot lead in the church if
we do not follow the lead of the Holy Spirit and of Christ, the head of the
church. We receive revelation both from
the Word of God and from Christ himself through the agency of the Holy Spirit
(John 10:4–5; 26–27; Rev. 3:20, 22). Look at what Jesus said to the religious
leaders who would listen to the Scriptures, yet did not listen to Him (John
5:37–40). This topic is so important that it cannot be adequately treated here
in one point among many.
13. Recognizes the callings and gifts of
others. Legitimate spiritual authority is cooperative. It recognizes the
unity of the Holy Spirit. It wisely distrusts the authoritative, go-it-alone
dictator trap. The leader who knows the authority of love is a team-player.
are all leaders at some time and in some sphere of our lives. Whether you lead
in your church, your home, your school, or on the job, you have a need to
understand not only how to recognize legitimate godly authority but also the
character and foundation of that leadership authority.
All of us should be modeling this kind of
followership and leadership in whatever sphere God has assigned us as his sons
and daughters. We are the leaders of those who are in the dark. We know how to
lead them to the light. We are given the responsibility to walk in such a way
that people see our lives and want what we have. But that can only come through
first living as followers.
If we so live as to make the
characteristics of true spiritual authority a part of our lives, then we may
impact the world around us. That world is in deep trouble and needs to see the
beauty of God’s royal reign.
[This is an excerpt from We’re the "sons of God" . . . So What?, p. 62-63. These characteristics are not meant to be exhaustive, merely as starting point. What would you ADD? Comment below.]