So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it.
Thoughts for Today:Choose any day -- read, watch or listen to the news -- and you will hear of multiple cases where power is abused. People have taken the gift of authority and then used it to take advantage of the people they were entrusted to protect and serve. We see a similar type of abusive leadership in some of our churches as well. It's a style of exercising authority in a way that tears people down rather than building them up.
In our passage today, Paul tells the Corinthians that his purpose is to build them up, not tear them down. It is a fine line that is often misunderstood or misapplied. True spiritual authority is given to individuals so they can become a blessing to others, not an oppressor. Those pastors or other leaders who control their ministries in a strict, demeaning and dictatorial manner are not using their God-given authority properly.
So what is the right application of authority? In 1 Peter 5:1-3, Peter instructed the elders to oversee the churches: "not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock". Jesus told His disciples (Matthew 23:11): "The greatest among you will be your servant." God gives leaders authority for the edification of His people (to build their faith), not to destroy them. Paul wrote in the first chapter (2 Corinthians 1:24): "Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm." I like that a lot! The authority Paul claimed was to do nothing more than build people up and help them find their joy.
Questions to Ponder:How do you exercise the authority God has given you? Is it to build people up and help them find their joy? These two objectives should be the focus of anyone involved in leadership. Is it yours?