I have a thought on that prickly topic of authority that so many are wrestling with. Sometimes I think we are looking at the issues backwards. We are assuming one has authority because of a title given them by a well-intended system that was not following the biblical pattern of leadership. Maybe we should be looking at the fruit. If a tree is good, the fruit will be good. The goodness of a tree is not determined by the position of the tree, but by the fruit of a tree. A tree positioned in the best of circumstances that produces rotten fruit is a bad tree. If the fruit is bad, the tree is bad -- no matter what the title. Maybe people should be looking at things in terms of the spiritual fruit/maturity of a person -- not position granted by a title. -- Lea Brown (Milwaukee)
I think it works both ways, though in a sense it is academic. That is, if a leader lacks true moral authority, who will follow him? To appeal to one's authority to settle questions or persuade others is certainly not the path Jesus and Paul (for example) preferred to follow.
I imagine you have read Gene Edwards' Tale of Three Kings. Saul had no moral authority to lead, but David still honored and respected him because of his positional authority. I am not suggesting that it does not matter whether a leader is a "Saul" or not. If this is the case, his (or her) leadership is not going to be of any lasting quality. But leadership will never work if we are completely unwilling to respect and learn from someone who "rubs us the wrong way."
Humility is expected among leaders and followers as well. For more on this, see Gordon Ferguson's short article "Golden Rule Followership," which may be found at this website.
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