The third straw man has to address the principle for the Servant, because no discussion of a redemptive gift scenario is complete without exploring the application or neglect of the governing principle.
The principle for the Servant is that of authority. The core concept is that God created and delegated authority, so that those who have it could multiply it so as to enlarge the pool of authority in the world.
For example, Christ came with unlimited authority. Then He multiplied the pool of authority in the world by sharing His authority with the apostles. In time, they shared it with thousands and today there are perhaps a billion people who walk in some level of the authority which Christ brought to earth and shared.
In a simpler model, two adults marry. A century later, there might be 50 human beings who are descended from them who each have varying degrees of the authority the first couple had.
An entrepreneur has an idea for a franchise. He has all the authority in that business, but his goal is to find as many franchisees as possible, so he can multiply his authority in business after business.
God’s purpose in giving anyone authority is so they can multiply it — enlarge the pool.
This is unevenly applied in our culture.
In most governmental circles, authority is broadly retained for an elite group, at the clear expense of the majority of those governed.
By contrast, in a Baptist church, every effort is made to authorize even the most recent member of the church to become an evangelist in their neighborhood, with little or no supervision by the titular leadership. They are intently focused on multiplying the pool of evangelistic authority in the world.
In some circles you see an excellent blending of both/and through having a leader who clearly has ultimate authority, while delegating as much authority downline as realistically possible.
You see this in sports. There is a coach or manager who has ultimate authority, but the pace of the game is so fast that the players on the field are authorized to make the vast majority of the decisions on their own as the plays unfold.
The same is true with the elite military units like the Navy Seals. They certainly have a very clear ranking system, but once a team is in the field, each man is authorized to make an immense number of decisions on his own, in order to move the project forward.
The centralization or decentralization of authority can shift over time. In 1970 the authority to bring healing to someone’s soul or spirit was highly centralized in the hands of a licensed elite. If you were not credentialed, it was considered criminal behavior to seek to be a healer.
Today the opposite is true. We went from an elite caste of healers, through a phase where anyone could claim the authority to do deliverance and inner healing, to a season where more and more people are expected to assume the authority for their own mental and spiritual healing, with only a modicum of diagnostic insight from those outside them.
This is a remarkable multiplication of authority in one sector of society.
We also see the ebb and flow of the authority pool in industry. Depending on the CEO of the hour or the management whim of the year, the guy at the bottom doing the hands on production may have more or less authority. Millions of pages are written about the virtues of “flat” organizational charts, while vertical segmentation of the authority chain continues to be the norm, not the exception.
What is the key to making the principle of authority work the way God designed it to?
Simply put, the one in authority has to equip those under them to be able to wisely handle the authority.
The simplest illustration is driving. The child wants the society to impart to him the authority to drive the family car. This should not be done until the parents have built into the child a proportional amount of responsibility.
This is the crux of the matter when it comes to authority. The parents are given near total authority over a child. They can abuse that authority by exploiting the resources the child has for the benefit of the parents. Or they can use that authority to impose responsibility on the child in such a way that it will prepare him or her to receive the massive transfer of authority that adulthood represents.
Again, parents are in a totalitarian role. But that does not mean they are to use their near absolute power over the child to repress the child. Rather, we use our authority to teach the child how to care for himself, to learn socially acceptable manners, and we force them to go to school against their will, etc.
A young adult who is well suited to receive the authority commensurate with that title, is one who has been pushed hard over the years to become responsible.
Compare that with the whole therapeutic transition. While there was massive delegation of authority, there certainly was nothing even remotely like effectively equipping those walking in that authority, and today, the effectiveness of the deliverance and inner healing movement has been hugely diminished because so many people were authorized to do work they were marginally equipped to do.
Now consider how the principle of authority plays out in a company. You can hire an employee who has limited abilities and use your authority to keep him in line, or use your authority to grow him up. The difference is stark.
To the degree you are using your authority at home, at work, at church or in any other social construct to control dysfunctional people, instead of to grow them up, to that degree you are in abject violation of God’s purposes for authority.
Further, if you are not actively imposing responsibility on unwilling people in order to grow them up, then it is only a matter of time before you are no longer able to control them. People will invariably move to the place where they take authority that was not given to them and that they are not able to handle wisely. And you will be left watching a rebel out of control.
You were not given authority over other people primarily to protect your own domain. You have a divine imperative to find a way to use that authority to impose appropriate responsibility on the ones under you, so that they are on a trajectory to eventually be out from under authority and able to assume the role of being in authority, replicating what was done to them.
Teen Challenge is a classic illustration of this. They are widely lauded by the secular and religious analysts as being the most successful drug and alcohol rehab organization in the nation.
How do they do it? Their first step is to use absolute authority and to strip their newbie of everything, down to his skin. He is then told what to do, what to wear, where to sit, how to pray, when to eat and how to make his bed. The rules are endless and the consequences for violating the rules are rather prompt.
He learns some responsibility. Does Teen Challenge want to have a vast army of robots? Not at all. As soon as someone shows some level of willing obedience in the basic rules of the organization, they will give him a small amount of authority. To the degree he handles that responsibility well, they give him more.
And the objective of the program is to impose responsibility in a heavy handed way, in order to transform the person from the inside out, so that they can give back to him all the authority he lost when he came in. When he is released back into a drug infested world, they expect him to be able to walk in authority without having any supervision.
So, just to review. Someone is given authority over someone else. They are to use that authority to impose responsibility on that person (with consequences) so that they can grow that person to the place of being able to receive authority of their own, thereby multiplying the pool of authority in the world.
The organizations that measure success by how many people are under the authority of the big cheese are simply flat wrong. God measures successful use of authority by how many people you were able to grow up to the point that they could be given authority and released so they are not under your authority any more.
The longer people are under your authority in their journey, the worse it makes you look. Exceptional authority figures can grow people up quickly and release them.
So how do we rate Saul, the Servant, in his use of authority to grow up those under his authority?
Well, a lot can be told from one single verse. In 1 Samuel 20:30 Saul screamed in rage at Jonathan, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman!”
Clearly Saul copped out on his marriage. Blaming his wife for being sub par just doesn’t work. God designed the man to have the responsibility to “make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word . . .” Ephesians 5:26 NIV
Men in the ministry have long celebrated the fact that husbands have authority “over” their wives, but the way God portrays it is that they have a huge responsibility to use that authority in a transformational way. If they are not transformational in their walk with their wife, then they are not qualified to lead in the church.
So Saul has one strike against him in terms of his failure to use the core principle for Servants in his marriage.
Looking at Jonathan the picture is equally dismal. I know the Sunday School portrayal of Jonathan is highly positive but I simply don’t see it.
He created chaos in his father’s kingdom with two incidents of unauthorized warfare. He put his father in a horrible double bind with the honey incident. He blatantly sided with David against his father in total defiance of his father’s commands (which admittedly were not within the righteous bounds of authority).
He was a young man who grew up in a broken home and was given a lot of authority that he was utterly unwise in handling just because he was of age. Saul did a terrible job of preparing his son for adulthood.
Finally you have the incident with Goliath. Saul was king. He had an army under him. He had authority, but clearly he had NOT used that authority to grow a generation of giant killers.
Forty years later, David drew from approximately the same labor pool, had the same authority, but used it wisely and grew quite a company of giant killers to walk with him.
From my point of view, Saul failed miserably in activating the principle of authority for those under him at home and in the kingdom.
He used authority in a destructive way to kill Gibeonites and to drive out mediums. He did not use authority to impose responsibility, so that he could develop a pool of highly qualified people to whom he could hand off authority and so enlarge the overall pool of authority in his nation.
Isn’t it interesting that as soon as he was crowned the first time, God gave him a team of men who trusted him and wanted to follow him. He was in authority over them. God gave him a head start on the complicated process of forming the throne of the nation.
He had a group of men who were already in a good place. A little more polishing and he would have had a solid core group to whom he could give authority.
Instead his spoiled brat of a son took authority which was not given him and made a mess for his father.
So let’s rewrite the story. Jonathan is marginalized until Saul finished growing him up. Some of the men God picked to run with Saul are placed in a position of authority as Saul swiftly multiplies the pool of authority in the land.
Their moral leadership is able to hold people together for the seven days until Samuel comes and offers the sacrifice.
The nation experiences supernatural deliverance and they move from slavery into the sonship in that place called Gilgal.
Saul moves swiftly to establish leaders over the people in the conquered territories, again multiplying the pool of leadership and growing more and more people into sonship.
I think that could work.
Most Servants serve in an enabling sort of way and end up damaging those whom they think they are serving.
A mature Servant uses the principle of authority to serve in an empowering sort of way. He is eager to multiply his authority, but is willing to impose responsibility on the unwilling in order to grow them into maturity before sharing his authority.
Saul lost the battle in his marriage and with his sons. No wonder he could not govern a nation, even with all of the good things God put in place for him.
Copyright August 2011 by Arthur Burk