All of our social hierarchies require levels of authority to function. We choose subordinates for a variety of reasons but you need to make sure that you do not take the task lightly. You should always make very shrewd decisions based upon good or honorable rationale or else you may be heading for some real trouble.
There is a story in the bible that I really like that is a perfect example of this. It’s in the book of first Samuel. In this book we find the story of the priest Eli. Now, it appears to Eli was a man who knew God. He was able to perceive that when Samuel was a young boy that the voice he was hearing call out to him in the night was the voice of God and so he gave Samuel the right advice on how to respond. It would seem to me that a man that didn’t know God wouldn’t be able to interpret that correctly so I give Eli credit for that.
But even though Eli knew God and was in a position of great authority (as he was the high priest in Israel) he had a problem. That problem was that he allowed his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, to run much of his day to day operations.
This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing but his sons were using their position of authority to lie, cheat, steal and defile the people that would come to the tabernacle to make sacrifices to atone for their sins. They would force people to hand over meat offerings before they had been burned. They lied saying that these were the orders of the high priest. They threatened the people who questioned their demands. They were sleeping with women who were coming to the gates of the tabernacle. Can you imagine how sick and disturbing this is? A woman comes to the tabernacle to get her life right with God and these men were using her to fulfill their own perverted desires and simultaneously causing her to fall into more sin!
The worst part in my eyes to all of this is the fact that Eli, the high priest, had gotten word that these things were going on. But he was too mentally weak to put a stop to it. He allowed these things to continue and he allowed people that were working in the upper hierarchy of the “church” to abuse the people. They were allowed to carry out their own fleshly agendas.
Now don’t think that because you’re not threatening people in your flock or using them for sexual pleasure that you aren’t guilty. Please hear what I’m saying. What if it is taking the opportunity to berate or make harsh comments to someone because you felt that they haven’t properly respected your position or your desires. Sometimes it is the love of your position of authority that can lead you react out of pride even if you aren’t immediately aware of it. We humans have a really slick ability to keep from being completely honest with ourselves.
One day the Israelite nation went to war with the Philistines. After a particular day that they lost a battle, the high priests sons decided that they would get involved in turning the odds of the fight back in favor of Israel so they brought the ark of the covenant into battle with them. For those of you who don’t know what the ark of the covenant was, it was an artifact that was supposed to be the meeting place where the spirit of God would descend from heaven and encompass the ark.
The sons of Eli took the ark without their father’s permission into battle and instead of turning the battle around they lost 7 and 1/2 times more men than they lost in the previous battle. Not only that, the Philistines seized the ark of the covenant. This meant that these insolent, nasty, lecherous, and just all around bad kids (who were put into positions of authority) caused the people that they were supposed to be leading to be disconnected from the presence of God.
Do you realize what an egregious offense that is? That is one of the worst things you can do in this world is try to separate people from having a relationship with God. But yet we have people in the modern church who are doing this all of the time with their laws, judgmental attitudes, religious pride, gossip, and secret despising of those that they believe would challenge their position. Their sins help to facilitate an atmosphere that makes it difficult for people to hear God or feel God.
Remember what Jesus said to the scribes and pharisees?
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.”
Ultimately Eli’s sons were killed, the ark was lost, tens of thousands were killed, Eli broke his neck and died, his daughter in law died in child birth and to top it off the baby lived and was named “Ichabod” as an admission that God had left them. All of this because Eli honored his sons above God. Because he put people in a position of authority that shouldn’t have been there. Eli’s motives seemed good on the outside. He loved his sons. He couldn’t bring himself to discipline them. But sometimes our emotions keep us from doing the right things.
Beware of who you have serving under you in positions of authority because it could bring an incredible amount of destruction to your ministry, your work, your home life, friendships and social circles.
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