I did a study today on authority and power in the New Testament. The key words are δύναμίσ (dunamis) and εξουσία (exousia). Both words are translated “authority” in multiple places. Yet the emphasis of Jesus, and commentators agree, is that δύναμίσ (dunamis) refers to Jesus’ authority that comes from the “power” He has, while εξουσία (exousia) refers to Jesus’ authority that comes from His position as God.
In considering “authority” I began thinking about our organizational chart and titles of people – especially my title. One important issue in working in or building a B4T business or a B4T organization is God’s word, His affirmation (exousia) to us. Twenty-two years ago when He led me to begin doing B4T, many Christian leaders said I was wrong. Many well-meaning leaders warned me that tentmaking, BAM, would never impact the lives of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. But I listened to what I believed was His voice, and not people. You each know the result.
As you move forward, realize that whatever B4T job or business you have, it will be different. Whether it be your organizational chart, the ways you lead a meeting, advertise, manage finances, etc., everything needs to flow out of our relationship with Jesus. Jesus’ use of exousia authority and dunamis authority varies. I find there are multiple times in the New Testament where Jesus overtly uses His position as God, His exousia authority, to tell, even order demons what to do. But I struggle to think of one time where He uses that same exousia authority to tell people or order people what to do; whether that be religious leaders, government officials, His disciples, or people in general. Jesus rebukes Peter and Satan, in Matthew 16:23, but that too is a spiritual warfare encounter. The times He calls people “fools”, “liar”, “white washed tombs”, etc., He’s never addressing an individual, but a line of thinking, an aspect of culture, or man-made rules that He never intended. Jesus leads people out of relationship and modeling, dunamis authority, not His positional authority.
In the church and in our own lives, there’s a tension between the sacred and the secular. This tension also exists between being professional in the business world, and being faithful to what God tells us. Excellence is also a central value for believers. So do we define excellence in terms of what we believe is pleasing to Him, or by what is accepted as professional? For example, in the workplace, how do we ensure our identity is found in Jesus and work flows through His Spirit first, and then to one another? How do we blend work and service and worship in our jobs?
So how does this play out for us? Well for me, in thinking about what title I should have on my business card I asked myself, “What title did Jesus give Himself?” In the Gospels Jesus describes Himself in a variety of ways; Light, Bread, The Word, Shepherd, etc., but gives Himself basically only two titles; Son of God, and Son of Man. Both titles center on His relationship with God. Some may argue that a “son” is a position, but I’d rebuttal that an heir is a position. A prince is a position. These, and others, are titles other people give to Jesus, but He does not use them for Himself. Jesus seems to find His identity in His relationship with God – nothing else. To describe myself as a son, emphasizes relationship. Personally, I aspire to find my identity in my relationship with Jesus – nothing else.
People like titles. A title gives us an identity that helps us to fit in with the world. A title tells others what we do – that we have value. But titles are not where we should gain our value or our identity, nor should we to encourage others along that line. Modeling and relationships go hand in hand. This week I am trying to practice what I preach. I am getting new business cards made. My job title? “Listener to God.”
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.
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