One Way to Undermine Your Authority as a Leader

I grew up in a home with four sisters and one brother of which I was the youngest. I had very limited authority as a child in our home, and my siblings knew this. If that wasn’t enough, they also knew how to leverage my parents’ power to have greater control over my life. I heard these kind of phrases all the time: “Mom said…” or “Dad said…”. It took me a long time to figure out just what my brother and sisters were doing; they were using those phrases to get me to act, or not act, in certain ways for their benefit. Once I figured out what was going on, I realized my parents didn’t say those things, or at least not in the way they were telling me they did. The same concept is at play in churches and organizations today.

Too many ministry leaders use and abuse the position of their senior leaders with the phrase, “Pastor _________ said…”. Whenever we begin or end our meetings with a phrase that attempts to strike fear or accountability using our senior leader’s name, we do so at the expense of our authority. Senior leaders get blamed for a lot because of this approach, and what trickles down to our volunteers is motivation out of fear. As leaders within our churches, we need to learn how to execute our senior leaders’ visions without always tying their name or position to the job we need to get done.

The Apostle Paul modeled the control of authority in leadership for us in ‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭2:6‬ ‭NIV‬: “We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.”

So how do we do this?

We must lead with confidence.
Our leaders have placed us in roles of influence because they believe we have the skillset to lead people from here to there, not to lead using their name as our final authority. We shouldn’t have to preface or conclude every meeting with statements that our senior pastor is asking this. We should have the confidence in our leadership position to carry out what they’ve asked us to do. This confidence is not in the title we have, but rather in our position to serve our senior leaders. If we have to use our title or the names of our leaders to get things done, we must reevaluate our ability to influence and lead effectively. If you find yourself using that strategy over and over again, make a commitment to lead with the confidence your leaders have placed in you. Replace “Pastor said…” with “here’s what we’re going to do together to accomplish this vision.”

We must lead with humility.
As leaders, we don’t always make the right decisions or say the right things. We live in a culture that says confidence is all you need to lead, but Jesus taught a different way. The greatest leaders are those who have learned the power of serving others, and humility. We must learn to lead with humility, serving with and for the people we lead. We should take full responsibility when our teams drop the ball, and give credit away for every success we experience. Most people want to serve under a leader who is confident in the direction the team is going, and humble enough to own the mistakes along the way. Replace “Pastor said…” with “we’re going to do this together.”

Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge. Simon Sinek

Leading with authority requires confidence in where your organization is going, and the humility to help it get there. Don’t undermine the trust your leadership has in you, lead with confident humility.

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