When we’re talking about real life, we’re not just talking about life in general. We’re talking about, among other things, your life and mine. And one of the dangers in that kind of conversation is the reality that you may see something in my life that needs to change. Maybe I’m not living up to the standards that I talk about, or maybe I’m disobeying the Word, and you see it.
But you can’t speak into my life unless I let you, unless I give you that authority. No, that’s not right: you can talk all day long, but unless I give you authority to speak into my life, I’m not going to be changed by what you have to say.
You can’t take that authority; it doesn’t matter if you are in the right and I am in the wrong. If I have not granted you authority to speak into my life, then your words are by definition without authority, and are powerless.
Likewise, I cannot take authority in your life if you haven’t given it.
There are people in “positions of authority” in my life. I must honor either the position, or the person holding the position, by giving them authority in my life, or else they have none. . The fact that you’re my boss means you should have authority to speak to aspects of my life and behavior, particularly during work hours. The fact that you’re my pastor means you should have authority in many areas of my life. The fact that I’ve invited you to speak into my life means that you should have such authority with me, but unless I decide that your word is authoritative to me, all is lost
I think we’ve lost track of this in our culture, though many foreign cultures seem to have a handle on it. Here, however, we have employees who disrespect their bosses and disregard their instructions, which leads to either fired employees or busted businesses. We have church members rejecting the instructions and teaching of their pastors and leaders, which results in stunning immaturity and moral failure.
Often, our employers, our pastors and leaders know the answers to our questions and failures, but whether they tell us the answers or not, it seems that the result is the same. The reason is that we have not submitted ourselves to their leadership, we have not given them the authority to have those answers in our lives.
And similarly, often times we can see a friend whose life is heading towards a shipwreck, but if they have not given us authority to speak into their lives, we cannot change their course, and their destruction is inevitable.
The challenge is that authority cannot be taken; it must be given, and in reality, it must be earned. Often, we expect that we already have the necessary authority based on our position, or on our superior knowledge or experience, and we speak up: “Let me tell you what’s wrong with you,” forgetting, or ignorant of, the fact that we must be given authority in someone’s life.
We cannot take authority; we can only be given authority.
My kids are experts at videogames, as are their peers. I don’t know anyone of my generation that plays the kind of games that the teenagers do, so I took on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. My daughter is my tour guide through Zelda’s lands, and she coaches my battles with the bosses, but she still thinks it’s strange that her fifty-something dad is playing Zelda.
I’m playing the game for several reasons, but I think God has other reasons. For me, I want to have fun, yes, but more than that, I want to understand the mindset of the games because it influences their culture and generation: I want to understand that influence; after all, that generation is already assuming the leadership of the Church in North America.
I’ve been learning some really interesting life lessons from video games. Zelda, at least, encourages values like teamwork, curiosity, persistence, loyalty. But did you know that Zelda is an excellent training tool for learning about spiritual warfare? I was stunned!
Think about it: these games – Zelda included – are all about moving into a new territory, overcoming the enemy in those places, learning lessons, discovering treasures, and finding weapons in the new territory, taking out the big boss (the stronghold), and then finally occupying the territory. Along the way, we get shot at, we overcome enemies; if we fail the test, then we go back to the beginning of the level (“Game Over”) and we try again. If we succeed, then (usually) we’re given back our “life points” (we’re healed) and we emerge a more formidable warrior.
That strikes me as a pretty good picture of the real world, or at least one aspect of the real world: As we grow, God brings us into new territory – like He did with the Israelites in Exodus, but the new territory has not been pre-conquered for us.
Our job – like in Zelda – is to run around discovering what is waiting for us in the new territory: what opportunities, what weapons, what enemies, what treasures. We capture the treasures, pick up and learn the weapons, overcome the enemies, and grow in experience and strength through the whole experience. Eventually we confront a substantial enemy (the “big boss” of the level) and it takes everything we have learned and every weapon we’ve found to overcome him, but when we do, his plunder is ours, his territory is now ours, and we are more formidable than we’ve ever been.
When Israel had conquered Canaan, they suddenly had a homeland for themselves that was among the richest in the world. When we conquer the enemies and landmines in the territory that God gives us, we have new wisdom, new strength, new influence. Obstacles and temptations that would challenge and threaten us are suddenly insignificant. Life blooms around us, and people and ministries are strengthened by our presence in their lives. It takes everything we have, but the reward is worth the cost!Besides, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us – like my daughter is doing for me – to help us find the enemies, to show us the weapons and the treasure caches, to guide us along the way. We can do this!