Authority does not cancel humility neither does humility erase authority. Num 12:3 “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” Moses was described to be the meekest man on earth during his own dispensation of time and he still spoke with unparalleled authority (Exodus 5:1; Num 15:23). Jesus was very meek and lowly in heart (Mat.11:28-30)—even beyond Moses—yet, the most authoritative in His earthly days “for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Mat 7:29).
It is necessary to establish the fact that authority is delegated power. You’re acting in the capacity of the one who has placed you in that privileged position. You are his representative. You don’t have to struggle and labour stressfully to exert any physical energy or power. All you need do is to speak words of command where you are and things happen by virtue of the authority vested upon you. You don’t necessarily have to be muscular, of a big size or much weight, of spectacular height, etc. Neither does age really matter at all. All of that is needless and non-essential when it comes to authority. Ambassadors are the representatives of the governments or presidents or heads of states of their individual countries in the foreign lands where they are sent to. Therefore, they deserve and receive the kind of high profile treatment that would have been given to the ones they are standing in for.
First, we have authority in Christ as believers and this is not with respect of age, societal status, size, wealth or any other tangible or intangible phenomenon. It is spiritual authority. Therefore, we need not to allow our authority to be undermined or relegated to the background and thereby become useless. The Bible says in 1John 4:17 as “He is, so are we in this world.” We are His very representatives—Ambassadors for Christ. Hence, we stand every moment on the authority of Christ (Mark 13:34; Luke 9:1). In the same vein, as heirs of the Father and joint heirs with the Son we similarly have access to all that heaven holds. We have been positioned “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph 1:21-23). So no principality can ever take away our royal crown or right given on His authority.
Secondly, as believers, we are leaders even though at various levels under our grand Master and Captain, Jesus Christ. Therefore, we have authority since we are representing Christ in varying cadres of spirituality. We ought to regard and respect those ahead of us in the wrung of the ladder and give them the necessary support and cooperation deserved by their position of authority. This should be done sincerely regardless of age, wealth, social status etc. However, this also requires humility on our parts. Rom 13:1 and 2 says “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Carnality and pride would make anyone do otherwise.
Furthermore, humbly giving due regard, being obedient and submissive to those of higher authority than ourselves commend us well to God who will duly reward us and elevate us accordingly. Pending that time, you would even have all human and spiritual subjects to respond well under your authority. No wonder the Centurion in Mat 8:9 said “for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.” Also, Mar 1:27 says “and they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, what thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.” Any unruly behavior such as insubordination, flagrant or stylish disobedience, disrespect, disregard, etc will on the other hand fetch us contrary consequences.
In Numbers12:1-15, we find a very thought-provoking episode teaching those of us today a great lesson. Owing to pride, envy as well as familiarity known to breed contempt, the older siblings of the great prophet Moses rebuffed and challenged his authority. They suffered for it especially Miriam the eldest. However, Moses, being the meek person he was, still pleaded and interceded on her behalf despite the despiteful slander committed against him. Korah, Dathan, Abiram with two hundred and fifty others who also acted along that foolish path with impunity suffered greatly too. They, alongside their family members, paid dearly with their very lives by dying mysterious forms of death unheard of before (Num 16:28-33). There were times too when the whole congregation of Israel revolted and spoke impolitely against Moses and thereby incurring God’s wrath upon themselves. God was even ready to wipe them off totally at different times on various occasions but for the intercession of the meek man Moses (Num 14:11-20; 16:21, 45). “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1Cor. 10:11).
Moreover, the fact that you are humble (and, of course, this not something to negotiate as it is a necessity) as a leader doesn’t indicate you are, or should be, timid or intimidated and not function properly within the authority given to you by virtue of anointing and position. Were some of us here today present at the time when Jesus was physically present on earth, we would easily have concluded wrongly that by the way He exerted such audacity and unquestionable courage as He did, that He definitely was proud and not humble. But it’s not so at all. There was no way He could have contradicted Himself when He said “I am meek and lowly in heart.” He only rightfully acted in the capacity of His almightiness and divine authority. When it’s necessary to act on the platform of righteous service for God, it ought to be done with courage, boldness and authority without fear or favour. This was why Apostle Paul admonished Titus in his letter to him thus: “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:15).
On a final note however, there is a need for all believers without exception to balance up authority with humility as Paul declared in 2Cor. 10:8-18: “For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:
That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.
For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.
Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.
For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ:
Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men’s labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,
To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man’s line of things made ready to our hand.
But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.”
Oore-ofe A. Ariyo.