Leadership & Authority

Leadership & Authority

How can a leader be nice and friendly, yet remain in authority?


This question reflects the struggle of virtually every leader, be it a parent, pastor, government leader, or a traditional organizational leader. The desire to be liked and accepted often clashes with the demands of the role, which requires us to make tough, often unpopular decisions.

Here are three foundational, guiding principles for those in leadership who struggle with the sentiments expressed in our question for this week:

  • My Heart: In Matthew 20:26-28 Jesus acknowledges that being in a position of leadership can develop certain heart attitudes like: desire to be great, desire to be first, desire to rule and lord over others. As an antidote to cultivating and acting upon those attitudes of the heart, Jesus tells us to look at Him and His leadership, and to do what He did. And what is that? To embrace leadership as an opportunity to give, to serve, to sacrifice, and to put others before self. Ask yourself, what’s my heart’s attitude and belief about my role as a leader and those I’m leading?
  • My Purpose: The need to be liked, accepted and approved is driven by fear of rejection, of not measuring up, or of not living up to expectations. The reality is that every decision has a potential to make someone unhappy. Jesus did not set out to please everyone (He actually angered quite a few along the way,) but spent His entire life pleasing His Father. Jesus knew His purpose, and that purpose guided all He did. In moments when we begin to measure ourselves on the feelings and attitudes of others, we must always go back to our purpose, which is summed up in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Ask yourself, are my motives and action pure?
  • Trust: Building trust can go a long way to bridge the gap between leaders and followers, while setting appropriate boundaries. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus points out a critical leadership mistake made by the Pharisees, which was demanding and expecting of others more than they demanded and expected of themselves. That surely did not build trust! Here is what Luke 11:46 says: “Woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” When leaders consistently carry the load, are willing to get their hands dirty, when they protect, empower and encourage their followers, then in moments when reproof or discipline is extended, it will be accepted much differently! Ask yourself, do I overburden others, or am I helping to lift and carry the load? 

What’s my heart’s attitude and belief about my role as a leader and those I’m leading?

As a leader, do I overburden others, or am I helping to lift and carry the load? 



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