Below is an insightful excerpt from Mark Dever, Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus, 9Marks (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 101–3. I bolded the most punchy paragraph and underlined the sentence that made me laugh out loud. So true.
7. Encourage Godly Authority
Too often, people today don’t understand what a gift godly authority can be. Raising up leaders requires us to teach about godly authority, and encourage it. Jesus certainly taught his disciples about a right use of authority (Matt. 20:25–27).
The fallen world both misuses authority and lies about authority well used. Satan’s basic lie to Adam and Eve was that God couldn’t really love them and tell them no.
When people are skittish over complementarianism, apologizing for it, I know they are probably thinking about authority in a wrong way. It’s as if they think authority is only an advantage for the person who possesses it. Apparently they haven’t had children! Authority looks like an advantage only to someone who doesn’t have it. When you have the authority, pretty much all the “advantages” seem to vanish, and you begin to realize how much of it is service—a glorious service, but a service.
This became clear to me years ago when I was preaching through 2 Samuel. David’s “last words” are striking: “When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth” (23:3–4). Good authority blesses those under it. It nourishes them. People will gravitate toward good healthy authority that spends itself for the good of those under its care, rather than using them for its own good. Look at how a family prospers under good parents, or a team under a good coach.
That’s why the abuse of authority by pastors is such a terribly destructive and blasphemous sin. Furthermore, the stories of prosperity preachers buying private jets for tens of millions of dollars point to something incredibly twisted and Satanic. Such “pastors” play right into the lie that Satan hissed into Adam and Eve’s ear in the garden of Eden: that authority is just a way to abuse you for the leader’s benefit.
Gratefully, the King on the cross shows us that the opposite is true for godly authority.
Just as Jesus tutored his disciples in the godly use of authority, so must we with any men whom we are raising up in leadership. And pastors must model such authority.