Middle School | Simply Insider

Kurt Johnston leads the student ministries team at Saddleback Church in Southern California. His ministry of choice, however, is junior high, where he spends approximately 83.4% of his time.

Here’s a little brainteaser:

Many without it despise it. Many with it abuse it. Many simultaneously want more AND less of it in their lives.  What am I?

Because it’s Wednesday and others have already written on the subject this week, you know the answer (and because it’s in the title of this little article).

Most articles I’ve read and sermons I’ve listened to on the topic of authority have revolved around topics such as, “How to respect authority,” “The benefits of authority,” etc. So I thought I’d flip the script just a little bit and share a few thoughts concerning how to utilize the authority you’ve been given.

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The amount of authority you wield is determined by all sorts of factors: Your role, longevity, your age, the hierarchical structure of your church, your level of experience,, and your proven track record are just a few things that contribute to how much authority you are given. And just about everybody who works with teenagers in a church setting has been entrusted with a certain level of authority. The question, then, is: What to do with what you’ve got?

And I believe the answer to that question begins by answering another, much bigger, question: Is authority given to you for your benefit, or for the benefit of others? I’d be willing to bet you’ve never thought about it that way before. I know I hadn’t until recently, but I think there is some merit to the idea that the authority we’ve been given is put to best use when it is used as a tool of blessing instead of a weapon of control.

Here are a few ways I believe your authority can serve as a blessing to those around you. I’ll let you translate them into your context:

  • Your authority can elevate the underdogs. Most people use their authority to elevate themselves and their personal agendas. But because you have authority, you have power and influence to elevate others…especially the underprivileged and neglected.


  • Your authority can empower. It’s fairly common for those with authority to also be the influencers, power-brokers and progress-makers in an organization because they have the authority—they can control whose ideas rise and fall, what programs get attention, etc.  BUT, they can also use that authority to create a culture of empowerment, collaboration, and opportunities for others to shine.


  • Your authority can multiply. If you hoard authority, things can only progress at your pace, but when you look for ways to give away influence and authority, things progress exponentially! When people feel elevated and empowered, they gain authority and the cycle has a chance to repeat again and again.

Here’s my simple challenge for you: Instead of plotting for ways to gain more and more authority, prayerfully discern what God would have you do with the authority you’ve already been given.



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  • Isaac Griffin says:

    Thank you Kurt for presenting another view point on authority. It has helped me to see how authority can be used to multiply and elevate those who are typically overlooked. I thank you for allowing God to use you in a way to challenge our thinking on the topic of influence and authority.

  • Alvin Lau says:

    Seems to me that people who plot for more authority really aren’t the ones who should get it. Rather, it’s the ones who are respectfully “fearful” of authority that tend to be most trusted with it.

    • Kurt Johnston says:

      I agree…out of my own experience! I’ve felt myself “plotting” at times and it’s clear that I wasn’t deserving of the very authority I was striving so hard to achieve!

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