Power is the ability to do or act; the capability of doing or accomplishing something; strength; might; or force.
Authority is power of choice; the liberty of doing as one pleases; the ability or strength with which one is endued which he either possesses or exercises; or the power of rule or government.
A good example was given by Minister JB during our weekly radio show. He tells the story of when he was younger, his mother would send him outside to bring his younger siblings in the house. Standing taller and physically stronger than his siblings, he would stand to the door beckoning them at the request of his mother. After a few failed attempts in his frustration, he tells his mom, you know they are not going to listen to me. She told him it was because he did it wrong. She told him that he must say, “mama said….” Feeling defeated and believing it would not work, he went to the door again, beckoning his siblings but using the seemingly magic words, “mama said, come in the house.” Surprisingly and shocked, everyone of his siblings ran into the house without further hesitation.
He explained that while he had the power, to physically force them into the house, his mother had the authority to cause them to follow instructions. He also noted that by telling the siblings “mama”, the person with the authority had given the instructions, they were also aware that had they not listened to him, they would suffer consequences the same as if she had said the instructions herself.
There are a few things to note about Power and Authority.
1. Power can be earned but authority is given.
Take for example a wrestler or heavyweight boxer. There are often examples of their geek to sheik transformations. Years of diet and rigorous exercise and weightlifting leads to muscular frames and super strength. However if small framed, diminutive person can complete a year training sworn in as an officer of the law and be given authority that supersedes the wrestler or boxer.
2. Power works while present, authority works even in your absence.
Luke chapter ten tells the story of how Jesus gave the 70 workers authority.
Luk 10:17 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. Luk 10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Luk 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
They were astounded and said, “even the devils are subject to us through thy name.” Jesus did not go with them when they were sent out, but by the authority given by the name of Jesus they were able to subdue and have power over the evil spirits. It was like saying, “mama said…”
3. Where does Authority come from?
Authority comes from inheritance. A recent show guest, Bishop Philip London, explained your privilege, authority, and position are different when you are a son versus a servant. He used the example of the prodigal son. When the younger son came back, he wanted to be a servant, but the father only recognized him only as a son. Then the father tells the older son, that everything that he has, the older son has access as well. There was no need to ask, he could at anytime go and get it. Only a servant need ask, but a son could just go and get it. The authority we have, comes through the relationship we have with the Father. When we receive and accept Christ and his work for us, we then become sons, and joint heirs with Christ. What He (Christ) has the ability we do as well.
4. When you operate in power you’re limited to your strength. When you operate in authority you are backed by the Father and everything that backs Him.
When a police officer is present, he/she represents not just him/herself, but also the city municipality or county municipality, and if need be state and federal municipalities. If in danger, need or trouble, he/she can call any resource from the city to the federal government to rescue, assist, or provide resources to help resolve any issue.
Psalms 24:1 tells us that, “the earth’s is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein.” If it all belongs to God and He is our Father, then all of the things in it and available to it are then accessible to us. Every organization, system, government, or anything that operates in the earth or world, has to adjust to accommodate us.
5. Authority has a specific purpose.
In 2 Corinthians 10:8, Paul writes, “for even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it.” The authority given to use is not for us to beat down, or hoard over, or control others. It is to build up those around us. More importantly it is not something that we should be ashamed of.
It is our prayer that the people of God understand they have more than power, we have AUTHORITY. With authority we can do more than bully or force a situation or resources. We can speak with authority and have all the systems and circumstances yield to us.
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