Jump directly to the Content

The Heart of Authority: Relationships

Pastoral authority is fundamentally relational.

Anthony, the junior high youth pastor who serves alongside me at River Valley Church, is an ace car mechanic. He's my authority on all things pertaining to my 2001 Honda Civic. He can diagnose and fix my problem. He's good, he's knowledgeable, he's cheap, and I know where he works and lives if something goes wrong. His authority rests in his expertise. His ability to diagnose, fix, and anticipate future problems flows from certification, skill, and know-how. I bow to his authority. I honor it. I rely on it.

But I'm a pastor, and the authority it takes to fix a broken head gasket doesn't seem to work as well on a broken heart. Pastoral authority is more akin to the authority of a member of the body (Rom. 12:4ff). Let's say for sake of illustration that the pastor's authority in the church is analogous to that of the heart in the body. The heart has no authority on its own; its authority is derived and constituted only by relation (i.e. submission) to the head and the members. Electrical ...

Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

From the Magazine
The Secret Sin of ‘Mommy Juice’
The Secret Sin of ‘Mommy Juice’
Alcoholism among women is rising. Can the church help?
Editor's Pick
What Christians Miss When They Dismiss Imagination
What Christians Miss When They Dismiss Imagination
Understanding God and our world needs more than bare reason and experience.