Shepherding with Authority


Authority is my best friend and worst enemy. It’s the enemy of my willful self, and the best friend of my destiny.

There are principles of authority that burn! Authority is a system God puts in place for so many reasons—our safety, our guidance, our development, our discipline, our structure, our support, our breaking . . . the list goes on.  In essence, authority is one of the tools God uses in shepherding us.

Now because authority governs fallen, broken individuals, the reaction is often very violent.  How many times have you personally risen up, IN YOUR RIGHTS, when a parent, teacher, boss or governing authority seems to misdirect or mistreat you?  Oh, I know I have.  I’m remembering one such instance right now. In the 90’s, I was a children’s pastor.  The Lord had anointed me for the children and it was personally very healing. I came to Him very wounded and this was restorative to my soul and extremely rewarding! It was amazing to have God’s Life flowing through me to love and care for His precious children.

Well, my then pastor felt it was a good idea to place five very aggressive, domineering type women under me to perform this task. This felt like abuse! A lot of my wounding was at the hands of a long slew of Jezebel women. I felt very put upon by his decision and judged him for corralling and controlling me unjustly.  I wouldn’t have minded five strong personalities, but these women were controlling and likely to make every decision a battle royale.  I was not pleased!

However, what I perceived as abusive turned out to be a pivotal point in my healing.  I had to say “NO” to the very type of woman who had controlled me in my past.  I had to deal with my own cowardice and face deep-seated fears.  As I look back, it was probably the point in my life where I began to stop tolerating Jezebel – a sin that leads to grave circumstances!

In God’s economy, authority can be wrong and still be right.  In God’s design, authority can even have the wrong motive and still carry the right message.  Yes, authority is my cross and my carrier. I’ve seen that everywhere I’ve judged authority for being mean or wrong, these areas have been the very place where God’s authority has flexed its muscles in my face. He’s right and so is His established authority.

This is a difficult one to swallow, because without a proper view of authority, I can be easily offended.  Authority isn’t established based on my agreement; God places it there.  And authority isn’t settled in my heart when I get my way; it’s resolved when I yield to God and trust in His lordship over it all.

God uses authority to break our pride.  It’s all to save us from our ingrained fallen nature of rebellion. Again, I can’t direct authority without being the one in authority. I can’t argue this immutable fact and it would be obscene to do so.  As I said in a recent podcast, authority is deeply personal! So personal that God Himself must address with us our restrictions and apparent abuses at the hands of those He’s placed in authority over us.

Let me tell you one secret . . . God’s over all authority, and if authority is truly unfair or unjust, and I resist the temptation to lash out and rebel, God will eventually take care of it Himself. God’s over every authority and every authority will one day bow its knee to HIM. He is able to use whom He wills, but there are frightening repercussions for abusing those under you—yikes! To cause one of these little ones to stumble is a dangerous stance in light of His ultimate authority!

Authority is God’s hand of love, and what that Love looks like is not necessarily our definition.  I know with all my heart, that Christ Himself is trustworthy and it is on Him I can rely to keep me. Authority is His tool to form and fashion my character, and He is able to obstruct or remove authority when He has accomplished His perfect work and plan.

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. 

For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.  

The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.  

So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
Romans 13:1-5 NLT

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9 years ago

This picture of this kind shepard says it all!!…at the conference the last day, God spoke to me that my husband is my shephard!!! I had never thought of him like this before! This is healing to me… I know the Lord is to me, but He appoints shephards to watch over us too…So glad to have met you all….bless you folks as you debrief over this life changing conference!!

9 years ago


9 years ago


9 years ago

Oh John, when I think of governmental authority I think of the Israelites in the Old Testament how they wanted a king like all the nations around them. God said it isn’t you Samuel that they are rejecting it’s Me. Then Samuel tells them everything God told him about what it would mean to have a king. They had to submit to that authority God said the king would demand and the people said they wanted to have a king over them. In first Samuel chapter 8 verse 18 says and you will cry out in that day because of… Read more »

Seth Roach
9 years ago

I have a question John that deals with the abuse of authority for those in a system that leverages authority for control. How do we determine an authority is from God? Depending on what group some are in due to the teaching they may not know how to recognize that and if the scriptures are presented in such a way that if the person were to even think otherwise they may be going against authority, so they are kept in fear under so called authority. I think we both know this goes on a lot and much abuse is done… Read more »

Seth Roach
9 years ago
Reply to  Seth Roach

One other question I have is this better understood in the context of mutual submission in a body of believers as opposed to a top down hierarchical authority structure?

Seth Roach
9 years ago
Reply to  Seth Roach

Thinking some more about this. You stated, “How many times have you personally risen up, IN YOUR RIGHTS, when a parent, teacher, boss or governing authority seems to misdirect or mistreat you?” Oh, brother can I relate to this one. My boss happens to be my dad and the Lord has used this scenario to show me and bring up out of me a lot that was and still is needing to be laid down. My wife and I just listened to this past months “cd of the month” and it seems like it does come down to who will… Read more »

9 years ago
Reply to  Seth Roach

Seth authority is one of those barn burner issue. I want to respond but I don’t want to give you a pat answer. What you are questioning required more than a bumper sticker answer. And with the passion I hear conveyed in the question, I am sure that is not what you are asking for anyway. The conference is next week and we are getting ready for it, but I will be praying to writing more on this for you, so stay tuned. So grateful for you Seth, thank you for commenting.

Seth Roach
9 years ago
Reply to  shulamite

Thanks John. I look forward to it. I pray the conference goes very well and the Lord is expressed fully, clearly to every heart as is needed. I sure wish I was able to be there with you all.

9 years ago

Thank you again. So much to chew over. “Authority isn’t established based on my agreement; God places it there.” I always stand dumbfounded when I meditate on authority. It is quite an amazing thing. It can be the greatest stumbling block or my greatest blessing…. and the link of authority to faith is SO HUGE. The whole theme of authority is amazing. Because authority is NOT what we think it is. We live thinking men have authority, like an innate thing, like “you are mine because you are UNDER my authority.” Like your boss is the ultimate authority that can… Read more »

9 years ago

Oh… This is an issue far greater than I want to admit… And your way of putting it makes it so terribly clear… This is medicine I know I need to take. God help me swallow it!

9 years ago

Amen John! “The authorities are God’s servants, sent for [my] good.” All to often we refuse to agree that HE ALWAYS works EVERY situation, EVERY circumstance out for our own good. Why would a Father who created us just so He could love on us and in return have us love Him back allow us to be in ANY situation that was not only good, but the very BEST for us? He wouldn’t! It’s we who so stubbornly refuse to view all things in His light. We are the one who chooses our own misery. If only we would trust… Read more »