27 Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him 28and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?’
On my office wall I have a framed letter that was given to me at my installation as Rector of Holy Comforter. The second paragraph says, “This letter is a sign that you are fully empowered and authorized to exercise this ministry, accepting its privileges and responsibilities as a priest of this Diocese, in communion with your Bishop.”
Authority is given, it is never taken. The authority for me to exercise this ministry was given to me by the Bishop. I did not take this job, it was given to me.
We live in a culture that claims to foster leaders and the nebulous virtue of leadership. I’m not certain what these words mean, but they don’t sound like authority to me. Authority entails humility and obedience to one who has empowered. Leadership seems to be about taking power so that others follow (for there to be a leader, there have to be some that are led).
I pray that the Church fosters proper authority over some vague notion of leadership. I pray that we exercise proper humility and respectful obedience. Today, may you discern the authority that has been granted to you, and may the Lord who has given you the will to do those things, give you the grave and power to perform them.
The Rev. Jimmy Abbott