People of Moral Authority, "When they lead, we follow...."

Brick-by-Brick, we are building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, 

You know this... during times of uncertainty, our actions speak louder than our words. If this is true, and I believe it is, "who" are you listening to, and who are you allowing to speaking into your life? Moreover, "what" are you listening to that you've allowed influencing in your life as you navigate uncertain times?

“Leading with Moral Authority”

Here's another good question about the influences allowed into our lives. Who's life do you allow to speak the loudest in your life? In other words, who do you follow when you are uncertain, lost, or confused? Who do you turn to, and who have you allowed to have influence in your life when your life is turned upside down? Why did you choose them, and what is it about them that makes them different, perhaps more trustworthy?

People of Influence are "Extraordinary," To Us

The people who've we allowed to have the most influence in our lives often have little to no official authority over us. Yet when they influence us, we listen and follow them or their advice. But why? Why them? I believe it is because we've evaluated them (vetted) over time, and they've proven to be integral, empathetic, faithful, and trustworthy.

When those we trust lead, we listen and often follow without question. But why? What do they have that makes them special and safe, and wise? How do we learn and grow from those whose leadership influences our decisions and our path? Good questions. I believe the answer is simple. They've earned our trust, and only then do we follow their lead.

Again, typically, the people who have the most influence in our lives usually have no official positional authority over us. These "influential people" are extraordinary and we allow or invite them into our lives, and we allow them to influence us because we trust their moral authority.

"Uncertainty is why people need moral leaders..."

We are often attracted to people because of their "moral authority." They've earned it over time, and we can trust them. The people we allow to exercise influence in our lives are usually people we know, and admire, and respect above everyone else because they've proven themselves worthy, again over time.

From Part 1 of this series, we learned that leadership is really stewardship and temporary. All leaders are temporary, and they will lead as long as they are a good steward of their influence.

We also learned good leaders have influence and good leaders are accountable to those they lead.

Here is a true statement, "We’re far more easily influenced by those we respect." If this is true, and I believe that it is, Who, if anyone, has been influenced your life? Did they do a good job? Do you like the outcome? Did they turn out to be the leader you thought they were? 

Leading in Times of Uncertainty: Positional Authority vs. Moral Authority

Every leader exercises authority on two levels. One level defines a leader's influence within a defined context. This level is our positional authority (parent, CEO, supervisor, coach, policeman, school principal, Mayor, etc.). These people play an important role in our lives, and they exercise authority over us accordingly. That doesn't mean we trust them or that we allow them to exercise influence over our decisions.

The second level of authority determines their level of influence beyond the defined context. This level of authority may not have any official position or official role in our lives, yet we've given them influence as if they did. We have voluntarily decided to listen and follow their lead, and we trust them and their leadership.

These people have authority and influence beyond a role and even beyond a timeframe. Jesus is an example of a Moral Authority in our life.

They have moral authority because they're in alignment between what "they say" and what "they do." They have moral authority in our life because there is alignment between what they "expect from us" and "what they expect from themselves" (in other words, they practice what they preach or they eat their own dog food!).

Moral authority is the credibility they have earned by walking the talk. We trust they will follow through, and their word is their bond. Their authority comes from the alignment of who they claim to be and who we discover they actually are (based on their actions and behaviors over time).

"Leaders are defined by their final chapter, not their finest chapter."

Nehemiah: The Story of Moral Authority and Influence

The story of Nehemiah and his selfless leadership is a lesson in self-sacrifice for every leader and follower to glean from. If you don't know the story, read Nehemiah right now. Basically, Nehemiah had a love and a big heart for Jerusalem, the wall around Jerusalem, and the Jewish exiles. Most importantly, Nehemiah was an integral leader who loved God above everything else.

Nehemiah is often used as an example of what true leadership is all about. Eventually, Nehemiah was given the positional authority as the Governor of Jerusalem but BECAME the Jews' leader, and together they rebuilt the wall and the city. Nehemiah's moral authority brought the Jews together, and it's the moral authority that got the job done.

Moral Authority is Influence

When one has the moral authority, it is only true because they also have influence. They are one in the same. There is an influence because of the moral authority, and there is an authority because there is influence. It's the "moral" part that makes all the difference in the world. Moral authorities are selfless and self-sacrificial, like Jesus.

The moral authority has no hint of entitlement or self-importance. The moral authority pours themselves out, and they do not hesitate to sacrifice themselves (ego) for the best interest of the whole (leadership through grace).

This series was created and influenced by the teachings of Andy Stanley.

Please enjoy Andy's in-depth lesson about Leading Through Uncertainty, Part 2

Please see Part 1 of this series, titled Leading Through Uncertainty and Disruption Part 1

Also, please see Part 3 of this series, titled, Leading Through Uncertainty and Disruption Part 3