Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.” – Judges 8:22-23 (NASB)
It is a difficult thing to refuse power when it is freely offered. It is often the case that the decision to defer supreme power is what characterizes a truly great leader, and the decision to grasp supreme power is what destroys a great leader.
There are numerous examples throughout history of leaders who have had the opportunity to increase their power, but instead choose to decline, and build up other leaders around him or her. George Washington is an excellent example. Washington declined the opportunity to seek out a third term as president, even though he almost certainly would have won (and kept winning for life). The decision to allow others to succeed him laid the groundwork for the peaceful turnover of power between differing factions in the United States for the next 220 years (and hopefully longer).
On the other side of the coin is the leader who will not give up power. A modern day example of this leader would be Vladamir Putin, current President of Russia. When Putin was constitutionally barred from seeking a third term as President in 2008, he worked to have a place holder serve a term while Putin became Prime Minister for four years. Putin returned to the Presidency in 2012 in an election which featured many documented irregularities.
The church is infamous for becoming an institution through which individuals with authority can rule mini-kingdoms. This can be just as true for the head trustee, the treasurer, a Sunday School teacher, or a pastor. It is important that the church put in positions of authority, those people who constantly remember that God is in control and “the Lord shall rule over you.”
When a Church allows an individual or group of individuals to rule, in the place of God, then it is no longer a Church.
- List the areas in your life in which you exert authority of another person or institution. Pick one of those areas and empower someone else to take over your authority.
- Examine your Church governmental structure and determine if it has adequate controls on individuals taking advantage of authority.
- Hand one area of your life, which is causing you stress, entirely over to God.
- When was the last time you refused power?
- Look at the leaders in your church; have they sought to increase their power or empower others?
- Does God rule over your life, your family, and your church?
- Are you willing to let others be in control? Are you willing to accept their decisions even when you think they are wrong?