Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ditch that Red Nosed Reindeer!

Christmas is the time of year when we celebrate the love of God who loved us so much that He sent His Son into the world that we might have eternal life. But the world has changed the meaning of Christmas to a celebration of conspicuous consumption.
Lest you think of me as Grinch, out to rob you of that merriest of Christmases, think again. I love a party and giving and receiving gifts as much anyone. I just want to make sure we celebrate the right things.

John 3:16 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

It is important to understand what it means to bask in the love of our Creator. It means you have intrinsic value, not as a result of your performance, but because you are you.

The world’s concept of love is often an insatiable craving, conditional upon benefits received. I love chocolate, coffee, the Chicago Cubs and pizza.

Romantic Love is shown in our so-called love songs,
·        You make me feel good
·        I want you, I need You
·        I can't get along without you.

We accept others if they become like us. Love in today’s world is conditional on our performing.

Kids are taught this from a very early age, especially at Christmas. Even the beloved cowboy star, Gene Autry, became an unknowing accomplice when he introduced his song about a strange-looking reindeer:

“Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, had a very funny nose. 
And if you ever saw it you would even say it glows.
All of the other reindeers used to laugh and call him names. 
They never let poor Rudolph play in any reindeer games.”

Then Something Happened!

“Then one foggy Christmas eve, Santa came to say.
 ‘Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight.’”

And then!

“Then how the reindeers loved him, and they shouted out with glee. 
Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, You'll go down in history.”

The other reindeer changed how they felt about Rudolph, because he performed a needed function. They loved because of what he did. God’s love for all humanity is unconditional love. You are not loved because you are lovable, but because you are loved you are lovable.

The object of love may have no value, but value is created by the fact that an object is loved. Take as an example a Child's Blanket - dirty, tattered and torn – but try to take it away from the child. That’s how God loves you.

God loved us while we were unlovable. 

After Rudolph saved Christmas, someone might care enough to die for him. But God demonstrates his own love for us - while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8

God loved us before we responded to Him.  Like a newborn infant, who cries, eats, sleeps and messes up diapers, our value is not based on what we do for God or others. Our value is based upon the fact that we are loved by God.

I do not want to “dis” Rudolph - I have loved him since childhood - but I want you all to realize how pervasive is our misunderstanding of the awesomeness of God’s love.

Let us all enjoy this season with knowledge that we are loved by the Creator of the universe. It does not matter what others may think about us, we have value.

Feel free to share how you have been affected by God's love.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Are you denying Christ?

Have you ever denied Christ? Well I did, probably more than once. Denying God, can happen in many different ways. Sometimes we are like Peter warming around the campfire as Jesus was taken to the house of the High Priest.  We are afraid to be associated with Him because of what others might think. Sometimes it may be an omission of what God is doing in your life. 

The recent missile events with North Korea brought to mind a time when I had an opportunity to witness what about Christ, but for some reason I did not. That was a denial. 
We were part of a design team developing a system to monitor Soviet missile tests in the North Pacific off the Kamchatka Peninsula. This is very close to the region North Korea is now sending missile tests. After a design review meeting at Hanscom AFB near Boston, I was on my way to California to survey the USNS Observation Island - coming out of mothballs - to be the platform for a large radar and communications systems that would monitor missile tests.of the USSR. 

On the three hour flight, I was seated next to a young business woman who wanted to talk. I don't like to talk much on planes. I rather prefer to work, think, and write. But she was friendly and working hard at becoming successful. She sought advice from anyone that  was older and successful. I was caught by her flattering approach - assuming I was successful.

She asked, "To what do you attribute your success?"

As a new but devout Christian, I had turned my life and career over to the Lord. He was leading and guiding me and we were becoming successful. If I had been truthful, I would have shared what God was doing in my life, but pride kept me from giving that answer. My response was the "book answer" - following my dream, taking risks, and working hard.

She seemed comfortable with my reply, but I was devastated. Why couldn’t I tell her that God had led me to this place and my faith in Christ empowered me. For the rest of my western trip, I was miserable and asked God for a second chance. 

It did not take long for the Lord to answer that prayer.

Back home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I received a call to attend a meeting in Washington DC. Upon checking into my hotel, I had a message from a business associate inviting me to dinner. He wanted me to meet his new girl friend. He was not one of my favorite people. He drank a lot and often became loud and vulgar after a few drinks, but something told me that I should meet with him.

I took the metro and met them at a Japanese Hibachi restaurant in Arlington,where he introduced me to his new girlfriend. Everything was going well as we were paged that our table was ready, we ordered from the menu and had a drink before dinner.

Then came the moment of truth. George’s girl friend turned the subject to religion. Being Japanese, she had grown up in Shintoism. 

The next thing I remember was her statement, “I am interested in Christianity and wish that I could meet a Christian who could tell me about their faith.”

My prayer for a second chance was answered, but could I respond? Today, I cannot remember all of what I said, but it began with, “I am a Christian, and will share what I know.”

The Holy Spirit led the dialog for the next couple of hours. To this day, I do not know the results of my presentation of the good news, but I know that both George and his Japanese girlfriend followed my story with great interest.

2 Timothy 4:2 (NKJV) Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching.
Feel free to share your story!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Dare to Explore

To explore is "Ttravel in or through an unfamiliar country or area in order to learn about or familiarize oneself with it."
When I was a child one of my dreams was to become an explorer. My son inherited this dream - wanting to be like Indiana Jones. 
While we did not make it, we did live vicariously  through TV and movies with Captain James T. Kirk of Star Trek with its five year mission, "to boldly go where no man has gone before." We saw all of the "Indiana Jones" movie franchise. 

In 1993, a real life explorer and adventurer came into my office and sat down across my desk. Colonel Norman Vaughn had been the dog team leader of Admiral Byrd's expedition to Antarctica in 1928-1930. In 1930, admiral Byrd named Mt Vaughn after his musher. For sixty five years Vaughn wanted to go back. He told me of his plans to climb his namesake 10,302 ft mountain (MT Vaughn) - a feat he completed completed in 1994 at the ripe old age of 88. The National Geographic Society film Height of Courage documented his training and the first attempt at the summit. It would take three separate attempts before he reached the peak. In a 1998 interview Vaughn told NPR's Peter Breslow, "I have failed a lot of times, but when I fail, I try to come back and get a better way of doing the same thing. His desire to go back to the peak on his 100th birthday failed for lack of funding.

In this day and age with all of our electronic devices and social media, it is too easy to sit in our recliner and explore the world through technology. Unfortunately, we will miss out on the real exploration excitement, discovering for ourselves new worlds and new areas of life. We can watch an great football game, but that is nothing like being down on the field actually playing in the game. We can watch a traveler in foreign lands but that is nowhere as fine as being there, smelling the flowers, tasting the food, or meeting the people.

It is time to get out of our comfort zone and head to the end zone.

  • God called Abraham to leave his comfortable home in the city of Ur, to travel to a place he had never been. Abraham went willingly.
  • He called Moses - who had settled down in the backside of the desert - to leave his comfort zone to lead God's people to the promised land. Moses was a little reluctant, but went in obedience.
  • God called Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach to the enemies of the Jews. Instead he ran the other way. 

Jesus called a group of fishermen, tax collectors, and ordinary men to become extraordinary explorers traveling through unfamiliar countries to transform the world. 

God is calling ordinary people just like you into a new adventure.  

Matthew 4:18-20 (NKJV) And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

Jesus is calling you:
  • But I am only ordinary.  He uses ordinary people. - Jesus first wants a relationship.- "FOLLOW ME"
  • But, I do not know what to do. It is not about doing, it is about becoming. Jesus said that He would change you."I WILL MAKE YOU...." We will not JUST learn how to love our neighbor,  We will become lovers of all people. Rather than doing good things, we will become good people.

Will you become an explorer or an armchair quarterback? 

How will you respond? 

  • Like Abraham and leave on the great adventure?
  • Like Moses, reluctantly but willingly?
  • Like Jonah, run the other way?
  • or like Peter and Andrew - enter into a close relationship with God and follow Him wherever He leads?
Please feel free to comment.

Bill Johnson

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Who Stole Your Identity?

A few years ago my heart rate slowed significantly, so my local General Practitioner sent me to my heart doctor who explained that there are two kinds of heart doctors - plumbers and electricians.  He - a plumber - said I needed an electrician. The electrician rewired my heart and installed a pacemaker. Now my heart beats at a stable sixty two beats per minute. 

This incident caused me to think, “What is our world coming to?” We live in an age of specialization, but specialization can be carried to the extreme. A generalist knows a little bit about a lot of things, while a specialist knows a lot about a few things. Specialization - taken to its extreme - can lead to one who knows absolutely everything about nothing. On the other side of the spectrum is the one who knows nothing about everything. People get a lot of their personal identity from their areas of specialization.

A few days after the pacemaker installation - thinking about specialization - a thought arose that I had not considered in years. “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Finding my true identity has always been a goal. What you desire to become is all about your true identity. 

  • Do you have a specialty – something that you are far better at than anything else in your life? 
  • What is it that you are far better at than most of those around you? You might call it your identity?
  • Do you know what God created you for? Each person alive today has a unique combination of skills, talents, attitudes and personalities which were given to him or her to fulfill their role here on earth.

If you are not rooted properly in your personal identity, it can be a fleeting thing. Psychologists explain that our identity comes to us from the people around us. They are like little mirrors reflecting back to us an image of our identity.

Well-meaning friends, family, and teachers will cause us to lose our God-given identity as they try to impose a new identity on us. As a high school sophomore, the school superintendent told me I would make a great electrical engineer. That became my identity and it was confirmed by others. So I bought into it and went to an engineering school, but was never totally sold on the idea. Well-meaning people will often impose their ideas on us. 

If we lack confidence in who we are, we see ourselves as others see us. These others are often identity thieves. They can steal our identity. 
Who are they?
  • ·         Well-meaning friends and family who encourage us to seek the wrong career because they think you will be good at it.
  • ·         Music teachers who tell a second grader they cannot sing.
  • ·         Parents who try to mold their child into their own likeness
  • ·         Politicians who define people as victims
  • ·         Etc.

Identity theft is a huge thing today with literally billions of dollars being lost through identity theft. Even more devastating is the theft of one’s personal identity which has been the cause of illness, suicide and emotional damage.

How do we get our identity back? An old story illustrates our point.
A master artist created a portrait masterpiece. It was so perfect that it was placed in a museum for all to see. Then the masterpiece was stolen and lost for many years. One day, as an old mansion was being torn down, the painting was discovered. It was no longer a masterpiece. Now it was covered with dirt, ripped in a few places, and its colors were faded.
The artist’s signature was intact so people realized it was that lost masterpiece, but none could remember what it had looked like. Several restoration experts attempted to bring forth its original beauty, but all failed. It was then the master artist, the one who had created the painting in the first place, came forward and transformed the ugly wreck of a painting, back to its original state.
Obviously God is the master artist Who created us. He is the only one who can clean us up and restore us to the person we were created to be.
Our identity comes from Him.

How have you discovered God's call on your life? Send us a comment.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Be Your own Church Consultant!

Are consultants really necessary? 

Are they worth the cost and disruption? 

The CEO of a small tech company in Chicago had a vision of becoming a large presence in its market. He was a financial expert with a great track record, but had little experience in marketing and engineering. So he hired a consultant with the proper credentials. 

At the time, I was a young, newly promoted, division manager responsible for new product development and compliance evaluation. With the arrogance of the young, I said to myself, “We don’t need a consultant, I can tell them what is wrong here.”

In time the consultant moved in and took a desk in the office across from me. He spent the next three weeks with a notebook under his arm, asking everybody questions. Eventually, he got to me and went through the litany of questions. Months later, his report came in and I was anxious to discover what he had discovered. I was amused and somewhat angry when I realized his recommendations were almost completely in line with what I had told him. (I began to consider a career in consulting.)

Was hiring the consultant a waste of time? Some - including myself - thought so. But now I am not sure. The advantages of hiring a consultant are:

  • He knows the right questions to ask.
  • Information that costs something is normally accepted over free advice.
  • Independence assures there is no agenda.

If you want to be your own consultant you can just follow the steps listed below.

  1. Identify where you are today?
  2. Determine where you want to go.
  3. Develop a plan to get from here to there.

The apostle Paul was the first church consultant. 

The apostle Paul was probably the most successful church planter of all time.  Converted on the Damascus road in about 33 AD, his ministry lasted for approximately 30 years.  During that time Christianity, which began as a movement within the Jewish community in Israel, became predominantly a Gentile cult, at least in the eyes of the authorities of the Roman Empire. Before AD 47 there were no churches in  Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia.  By AD 57 Paul could speak as if his work there was done. He certainly had the credentials to be a consultant. 

His letters to the churches read like a consultants report.

  • They include paragraphs that specify what the church is doing right.
  • They include those things that need improvement.
  • They include recommended actions.
  • They provide encouragement.

In his letters Paul often thanks God for those things that the church is doing well, while offering prayers about those things where they fall short. Lets look at a few:

Ephesians 1:15-18

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 

  1. Note that Paul is thanking God for their faith and their love for the each other.
  2. But, he is praying that the eyes of their heart may be opened so that they might know Hope. 
Obviously they were losing hope.


We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 

  1. Paul Thanks them for their faith, love and hope.
  2. But in verse 9, he prays that their knowledge of God's will would grow.


 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 

  1. Paul gives thanks for their work of faith, labor of love and Steadfastness of hope.  
  2. But in 2 Thes., he gives thanks for their faith and love but, does not mention their hope.  Why?  Because there was a teaching that Paul was countering that the rapture had come and they had been left behind.

If you as the leader are willing to ask your people two questions, you will be able to measure the state of the church. 

  1. What would the apostle Paul thank God for in our church?
  2. What would the apostle Paul pray to the Father for our church?

Asking these questions will reveal much. 

Several years ago we became the pastor of a church that was divided by controversy. After six months, we called a meeting of all the leaders. We broke them into three small groups sitting around tables and asked these two questions. 

The response to question 2 was “More Love.” 

We then asked each table to put together a list of things that could be done to have more love in the body. We did not have to make any official rules or take any actions to increase love. Just highlighting the feelings that the church body lacked love had its effect. 

A year later we asked the same two questions. 

This time Love was the answer to question number one. In one year there had been a significant change. 

Consultants can make us aware of our weaknesses. When we know what they are, we are able to transform our weaknesses to our strengths, with or without a consultant.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Effective Prayer

James 5:16  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

In late August of 2008 hurricane “Gustav” crashed into Cuba, recording the highest wind gust ever recorded there - 211 mph. All of the computer models were forecasting a disastrous impact on the central Gulf Coast somewhere between Houston, Texas and Mobile, Alabama. The models showed that the storm would intensify to a “Category 5” storm, bringing devastation to the very cities and towns which had not completely recovered from Katrina - three years earlier. This was the third anniversary of Katrina’s landfall. On August 30, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation of the entire city and nearly two million people evacuated from southern Louisiana in advance of the storm.

That evening, inside the walls of the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, the KAIROS prison ministry meeting was closing a service of confession and forgiveness. Each participant  had just forgiven those who had hurt them deeply in the past. As I stood to offer the closing prayer, a rush of faith came over me to pray against the storm heading our way. Forgiving others clears us to be forgiven resulting in our prayers heard by God. Prayers in too many churches are ineffective, because of the lack of forgiveness. How can you rebuke a storm outside when there is a storm raging inside of you? 

We prayed for the storm in the Gulf to dissipate and be reduced in power. It would have been inappropriate to ask it to swerve away and hit another coast. We prayed for the Lord to rebuke the storm. 

There was a bit of spiritual pride later when Gustav, instead of intensifying over the warm gulf waters, dropped to a “Category 2” before making landfall on September 1st, west of New Orleans, in an evacuated area. But then on Monday evening,  my brother called from California to ask how we were doing as we were touched by the edge of the storm. He had been at a large Christian gathering in Anaheim, CA where they prayed that the storm would dissipate. He commented, “Prayer really does works!” 

That day, I opened an email prayer bulletin from another ministry. Their letter read,

“We believe that the Lord has given us authority to pray the death & destruction out of the hurricane and to command the winds to be diminished, and that is what we are doing.  We are asking all of you to join with us in our intercession for the Gulf Coast and the East Coast.”

During the “Cold War,” I watched - at close hand - the construction of the Berlin wall. Stationed in Germany at the time, in a small way participated  in the Allied response - a show of force the day after the wall went up. 

In the mid nineteen eighties, an organization of Christians, Intercessors for Germany, headed by Berthold Buecker, were led to bring German people  together to repent, East and West. They believed that this could destroy the strongholds of division that kept the Berlin wall in place. Later, though no one orchestrated it, East Germans began to come together in Leipzig, interceding fervently for the country.  They were at great risk because the "Stasi" were watching and recording.  Thousands gathered in the church and throughout the city. It was too late to stop the pendulum of history. 

In November of 1989, dismantling of the Berlin Wall began. In 1992, the demolition was completed making way for the reunification of Germany. Over the next several years we heard from literally hundreds of people  who had been in Germany and prayed that the wall would come down. Each one took some satisfaction in their part in praying down the wall. 

We can always be self-satisfied when our prayers are answered; whether we pray for a hurricane to dissipate, a wall to come down, or for some tyrant to be defeated. But we also have to realize that it is not about us. 

Though our prayers are effective, it is all about being a part of the Body of Christ and responding to the Holy Spirit as He calls us to pray. The Holy Spirit speaks to many at the same time and causes us all to pray the same way. 

Our prayers go up to God as a divine orchestra rather than a solo aria. The effectiveness of our prayers is based upon our submission to the maestro as He conducts the concert.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ask The Right Questions, Solve the Problem

Luke 18:18 (NKJV) "Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, 'Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'" 

A young wealthy man had a problem. Something was missing in his life. So he went to Jesus and asked Him, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?"

Knowing the man's real problem, Jesus gave him the typical rabbinical response, "Follow the Law." 

The young seeker answered and said that he had done this his entire life, but still something was not right in his life. Jesus was waiting for this comment and cut right to the heart of the matter. He told him to sell everything and follow His leading. The cost was too high for the young man so he walked away in despair. 

When faced with difficult problems, we need solutions, but how do we identify the best answer to our situation? How do we solve our problems and know that we are making the right changes?

“Read the question.” 

These words were written at the top of the exam's first page in my Organic Chemistry class at Georgia Tech. I wish I had taken time to let those words sink into my my head. I wish I had taken time to let those words sink into my my head. Instead I jumped right into the test, worked the problems, finished ahead of everyone else, turned in my paper, and smugly walked out knowing I had aced the exam. When my paper came back, I was shocked at the "D-" written in red pencil at the top of the page. There was also a note  - and a note from the professor, "Read the Question." Apparently, I had not read each question carefully and there were a number of trick questions designed to not only measure the our knowledge of the subject, but to train us to think clearly. 

That incident changed my entire approach to solving test problems and also difficult personal problems. In addition it helped me raise my grade in that class to a high "B" even with that first bad grade. The need to understand the problem has stuck with me and has become my guiding principle when solving complex issues. 

Too often we do not understand our own issues and problems, nor listen clearly to what others say.
We don't take the time to fully consider all aspects of problems we face in relationships, business, politics, or scientific issues. As a result we work to correct symptoms without ever facing the root problem. Just as a child finds a hammer and believes everything in the house requires hammering, we find a solution and look for a problem to which it can be applied. For Washington's politicians, their hammer is money. Whatever the problem, send money. In this day and age, nobody fixes things anymore, they throw it away and get a new one. This is true of computers, cell phones,  and relationships. Rather than find out what is wrong and fixing it, we throw it away and get a new one.

If we are to solve problems, we must identify what  went wrong and understand the real problem. Once we are able to define the problem clearly, the solution or solutions often become obvious. Solution are not hard - often the problem itself is so complex. Then we fail to spend the time and energy to get to the root of an issue. As a result we end up with a "D-." on our report card.

The biggest example is seen in bureaucracies. There are some that believe that the solution to every problem in business, healthcare, the economy, and relationships is more government regulation. Regulation is the hammer - the panacea - and everything must be regulated.
Even in our own lives we keep looking around for that magic hammer that will solve all of our problems in our relationships, finances, and careers. So we attend every webinar, read every new book, and look at what worked for someone else and try to apply it to our particular problem without a careful understanding of our individual problem. "How To" books are the largest sellers on Amazon. "How To" videos get the most viewing on YouTube. 

You cannot solve a problem if you do not understand the problem. But if you fully understand it and can clearly state the issues, the solution will usually become obvious. When we truly understand the problem, the solution or solutions become obvious.

Steps to Problem solving:

James 3:17 (NKJV) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.

1.   Ask the right questions. 

Get at the root cause of the issue. 
One prayer that I have found God answers is, "What am I doing wrong?"

Get beyond the symptoms and find out why the symptoms exist. Symptoms are not the problem, they are the result of the problem. If your knee hurts, don't just take pain meds, determine the source. If your business is failing, identify what may be wrong, products, production, marketing, etc. Then look at where that can be improved. 

My first experience with a business consultant was very early in my career. He came around and asked questions of everyone, including me. Later when we received his report, it was obvious he just regurgitated our answers. The best way to find out what is wrong in any situation is to ask questions.

2.  Consider available solutions

Once the root of the problem is identified, it is time to consider a variety of solutions. Do not just pick up someone else's hammer. Consider even the wildest of ideas. This will help stimulate your creative juices.

3.  Evaluate potential solutions. 

Evaluate the potential solutions based upon James 3:17. Is the potential solution based upon a pure heart? Does it give you a feeling of  peace in your spirit? Are you willing to yield your rights? Will it yield good? Is it non-partial? Is it without hypocrisy?

4  Select the best, cost effective, solution. 

5.  Take Action on the solution

6.  Be flexible. 

If the path you have chosen is not working, you may have missed the root and are treating the symptom. If that is the case go back to step one. Do not just give up and throw in the towel. Solve the problems.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

7 Steps to Gain Authority

 7 Steps to Gaining Authority

Authority is defined as: “the power or right to give orders or make decisions: the power or right to direct or control someone or something.” The source of authority may be internal (residing within), or external (authority vested by an external agency.)

External Authority

As a new president takes authority over the government of the United States, he or she is given great authority by the office. But he or she is also under the authority of the constitution and those who elected him or her. While this authority is external. It comes with the job. It is great but the success of the presidency is determined not by this eternal authority but by internal authority.

A policeman with a badge and uniform has the power and right to direct automobiles and trucks to stop, turn, or proceed. His authority has been vested in him by a governmental agency. His authority is identified by his badge and uniform. An impostor could steal the uniform and badge and go out in the street and direct traffic and the drivers of the vehicles would not know he was an impostor and would probably follow his direction. His authority is in his appearance. The policeman does not have the physical strength to stop a truck coming at him at a high rate of speed, but he is able to stop the truck by the authority vested in him by the government.

In a traditional business organization, there is a hierarchy of authority. The Board of Directors - whose authority is vested in them by the stockholders or owners - has authority over the president, who has authority over vice presidents, etc. There is a hierarchal structure of authority throughout the entire organization.

Similarly, a military officer gives orders to troops who are trained to be obedient and to respond quickly to proper commands. The officer’s authority is vested in higher authority and backed by the government. Uniform insignia designates the rank. Rank determines the level of authority of the officer. The officer, in turn, is also is under authority. The military is a hierarchal organization where orders come down from the top to the lowest echelons and obedience looks up for direction.

There is one major problem with external authority. It can be taken away quickly without any warning. As a result, the external authority must be guarded and protected. When protecting a position, you will inevitably encounter someone who challenges your authority, leading to conflicts. The external authority may lead to compliance from underlings, but it does not always warrant respect.

Internal Authority

Internal authority is based upon character. Organizational psychologist and author of “Give and Take,” Adam Grant, states "there were two ways to gain influence (have authority); dominance or prestige." Internal authority is all about “Prestige.” The internal authority may be difficult to explain but it is one of those things that “we know it when we see it.” Those with internal authority know who they are, why they are where they are, and what must be done. A person develops internal authority by growing in individuality, self-confidence, conviction, integrity, and having a servant attitude.


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”  R[Ralph Waldo Emerson]

Every individual in the world is unique. Unfortunately - because we have a desire to fit in - we try to hide our uniqueness and become like others around us. We see this in teenagers who dress alike, talk alike, and act alike. There are some who rebel and dress and act differently, but soon the rebels will come together and share their dress and actions as they fit together.

In the business world, there is a tendency to dress, think, and act alike. In many large corporations, you see individuals who dress alike, have similar facial hair and walk with a certain gait. Most of them are inadvertently imitating their immediate boss who in turn is copying the chief executive.
Individuality is important. It is the quality that makes one person or thing different from all others. It is not easy to be different, but you cannot develop internal authority if you are trying to be like someone else. Today we have too many people in politics, business, and the church who are not sure of their own identity, so they put on masks and try to become like the ones they care about, or what they think others want them to be. They do all of this in the hope that they will be accepted.

Individuality requires an understanding of one’s gifts, talents, and purpose. While you can grow in knowledge and ability, the only way you can grow in individuality is by being yourself and not trying to emulate someone else.


Self-confidence is confidence in oneself and in one's powers and abilities. It is not prideful but it is being totally honest about who you are. You know your weakness and limitations as well as your strengths. Self-confident people have a peace about them. There is an internal strength which allows them to handle criticism and failure without reacting in self-pity and defensiveness. Self-confidence allows one to react appropriately to criticism - to be objective, analyze, and accept appropriate criticism.
Anyone who is active bringing in new ideas will be criticized. It is the nature of the game. Self-confidence allows us to look at the criticism objectively, evaluate it to determine the validity, and take action when necessary.


Individuals with internal authority have a conviction regarding what they are doing. By focusing on their purpose, they will not be sidetracked by unimportant issues which could distract and keep them from reaching their goal. Strong leaders are gifted with the ability to see long range goals and not chase down rabbit holes. Focus is derived from a conviction or purpose which evokes passion and a willingness to make sacrifices to achieve that which they seek. Passion is contagious and draws others to the battle. Others catch your passion and are led toward the same goal. People will follow leaders who have a passion about their purpose.
“I just set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.” [John Wesley]
Each of us has a destiny, or purpose, in life. But we often dilute our efforts by chasing after things we are not called to chase. It is better to be good at a few things than mediocre at many things.


Integrity is measured by what you do when no one else is looking. It is the quality of being honest and fair - the state of being complete or whole. Integrity seems to be lacking in many leaders today. We are witnessing the lack of honesty and fairness by politicians, business executives, religious leaders, and individual citizens in today’s world. Integrity seems to have been lost in this egocentric Post-Modern world.
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”  [Albert Einstein]
Leaders with integrity will stand out and be followed by others seeking truth. Integrity requires us to speak the truth without exaggeration, follow through when we say we will do something, be careful in money and moral issues, live what we preach, and be a servant to those we lead - willing to sacrifice our own desires to help others.

Servant Attitude

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”   Mother Teresa
A Servant attitude will always result in internal authority. A servant leader wants to benefit the group and desires to make other people successful and see them grow. It is a way of honoring others. There are too many leaders today that sacrifice the people that they have authority over, to further their own personal agenda.
Ezekiel 34:2 (MSG) "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, 'God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren't shepherds supposed to feed sheep?

Increase Your Internal Authority

Internal Authority cannot be taken away. People with internal authority will always rise to the top of an organization. They do not have to be afraid of other people, they can take risks and be innovative, and they end up with external authority given to them. They will be recognized by higher authorities and do not have to rely on the external things to be successful.

Those with authority must be under authority. If they cannot be under authority, they cannot be trusted to be given greater authority. If they can relate well to those over them, they will be able to relate well to those under them.

Internal authority can be increased by following the steps listed below.

1. Know yourself: 

Understand who you are; your abilities, your strengths and weaknesses, and your purpose in life.

2. Eliminate Fear of failure: 

Develop a Godly self-confidence. Baseball player, Sammy Sosa broke the record for strikeouts in a single season.  He hit 62 home runs breaking the record of Babe Ruth, but he struck out more often than he hit a home run.  Most people who have accomplished great things have failed a couple of times.  Good people only condemn others for not trying, not those who try and fail.

3. Eliminate Fear of Rejection: 

Do not be afraid of what others might think. Attempt something great. It is far better to attempt something great and fail than to attempt nothing and succeed. 

4. Accept what you cannot change, be thankful for what you have:

5. Believe in the importance of your purpose:

6. Walk in integrity:

Be honest about your weaknesses and limitations. Be a learner, don’t be afraid to say, I don't know. Change your mind once in a while.   Allow others to change your mind once in a while. Ask for help and advice once in a while. When you are wrong, admit it and repent quickly.

7. Have Faith in the future. Expect success.