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How you grow in spiritual authority

I remember when I was an adolescent overhearing my grandma talking to my parents about my immaturity. I would probably have been more wounded had I understood what they were talking about.   When adults assess a teen’s maturity like that, they’re usually talking about his social maturity….
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
I remember when I was an adolescent overhearing my grandma talking to my parents about my immaturity. I would probably have been more wounded had I understood what they were talking about.
When adults assess a teen’s maturity like that, they’re usually talking about his social maturity.
What about his spiritual maturity, though; how do you assess growth there? Jean Piaget gave us models for
cognitive and social development – scales by which to assess such abstractions. But ask the average parents about their child’s spiritual maturity and they may struggle to find such a scale.
Churches and religious leaders try to fill in the blanks. “Love God, love others,” was my church’s motto, boldly affixed to the sign out front. I’ll bet your church has had something similar on its sign.
You can pick your own path or model for getting to spiritual maturity:
“Be more disciplined!”

“Walk in freedom!”

“Get a seminary education.”
“Work in an orphanage.”

Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matt. 7:20) But does that mean an emphasis on fruit of the Spirit or outward fruit?

The subject of spiritual growth is fuzzy. Am I behind or ahead? Should I work harder or relax?

like to suggest that a person’s growth in the spirit correlates to their ability to wield authority. I see
four realms in which we all have the opportunity to wield spiritual
. We’re not necessarily more mature because we have authority
in one realm as opposed to another. But if you have authority in all
four of the realms, then you have certainly grown spiritually.

Where does authority come from? In
the first chapter of the Bible, God delegated spiritual authority. We
humans lost it, and he’s been looking to help us get it back ever since.
He told Adam to “take dominion,” meaning, “exercise authority over a given realm.” We
need to understand the realms where God wants us to take dominion.
Ephesians 6:12 says “We are not fighting against flesh-and-blood
enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world.”

a hike with some guys last summer, I first sensed God speaking to me
about four different levels or realms where we’re called to wield spiritual authority. This is where the “authorities of the unseen world” contest us for dominion.

1. Self – Keeping your heart pure, devoted, and passionate. Keeping your head
free from lies, Maintaining your priorities and key relationships.

2. Family – Those you are committed to love for life – those people you’ve
permanently taken into your heart. Sons, daughters, spouses, and parents
plus others God has given you.
3. Tribe – Your community of friends who share your spiritual DNA, who encourage
you and call out greatness in you. You may covenant with them to share
life and to do your dreams together.
4. Kingdom – God’s rule and reign on this earth. He cares for all people and
especially targets the widow, the orphan, the sick and the oppressed. He expects
his followers to bring hope to them.

can advance in our ability to exercise authority in a new realm by experimenting. These experiments often take the form
of journeys like the one that Jesus sent his disciples on in Luke 10.
Going on spiritual journeys can be a great way to accelerate the growing
process. This is why short-term missions are so important – when done as Jesus did his, they help us make significant spiritual growth steps.

understood that we have to practice taking authority. If you’ve not
wielded authority before, it may not feel natural. You may feel awkward –
all of us need practice. When Jesus sent his disciples on separate
journeys in Luke 9 and 10, he gave them spiritual authority and told
them to practice using it. He gave them authority over demons and
authority to heal. He knew they needed small-scale journeys to
experiment with wielding it.
As you periodically take stock of your life, you may be happy with the way you’ve grown in a given realm. Perhaps you experienced regular attacks of self-doubt and fear while growing up. But now you’re confident in who God made you to be.
If you hear a lie floating through your mind, it’s easy for you to exercise spiritual authority in that realm and dismiss it. It’s a thrill to experience spiritual growth like that.
The question is, how much authority do you have in the realm of the family? And do you have a tribe of people that has your back? Or have you begun to understand what Jesus calls “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom”? Matthew 13:11
If not, don’t settle for less. There’s much more that God wants to give you if you’ll reach for it.

Comments (8)

  • Thanks Seth for the instructive here. The “secrets of the Kingdom” will always sound like a foreign language and take one out of the societal step,

    Limping lessons seem to have more equity or at least I think so.

    Hubris always gets the boot eventually.

    Bless you and the team.

  • “When adults assess a teen’s maturity like that, they’re usually talking about his social maturity.” You’re absolutely right. There’s a really animated debate that I thought would be of interest on evolution vs. intelligent design going on at http://www.intelligentdesignfacts.com

  • I really am drawn to this idea of spiritual authority in different realms (personal, family, tribe (thanks Seth), and Kingdom). It makes me wonder about verses like Eph. 2:10 where God says he creates us a new people for good works that he prepares for us in advance. I think spiritual authority, if it is granted to us, looks like us stepping into a situation that is the proverbial low, outside pitch that we can easily hit the home run just by swinging. Recently in my own life, I recognize these situations more, where as before I think I missed them just because I didn’t really know what I was created for.

    Thanks Seth. You made my morning time with God more meaningful today.

  • You don’t know how much of an impact that little teaching on the mountain had on me. I remembered it quite a few times over the past year and it has always encouraged be to fight in each of those different arenas (self,family,tribe,kingdom), arenas that in the past I’ve often quickly surrendered. Thanks! 🙂

  • Again this is timely and coming in from a different vantage point based on your position in God’s kingdom. We are all like little reflections, glimmers of His glorious light and as we share our “candle” it opens up the way for others on the journey.

    This past year has been about taking the authority in the “self” realm and God has also given some revelatory “boot camp” exercises in the realm of family. Yesterday a member of the “tribe” gave me a word that I was reluctant to receive and upon pondering it, accepted it as God-inspired to apply as bitter medicine to heal up a wound. Just as salt stings or alcohol stings yet it brings CLEANSING. I pondered it and pondered it and brought it before the Lord and finally took it to prayer with my husband taking his authority as my partner in marriage over it. Afterwards there was a lifting, a lightening and no more carrying it.
    This morning every teaching and Scripture was more and then your article a SUMMATION of what He is doing.

    We are being trained in His righteousness. It is for His glory and we are His people, His vessels, His instruments.
    Ultimately, all of this training and the EXERCISE of the teaching and training –

    Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

    I thank the Father for His faithful great kindness for those in the tribe that were there throughout my entire life when family defaulted. Just as Ruth left her original people and journeyed faithfully with Naomi. Her faithfulness and EXERCISE in diligence in the field was rewarded! I pray those dear saints are doubly rewarded!
    And that the reward of the harvest in my own family and in the kingdom goes into their heavenly bank accounts! AMEN

  • Good stuff! Really.

    Ha, a thought as I read this… if your blog had an audio button that reads the blog aloud in a Seth Barnes voice to the reader, that would be spectacular. 🙂 Cause that’s how I started reading this one today…

    Take care!

  • I find it intriguing that you refer to “spiritual authority” in describing this concept. I want to consider this more. I get what you are saying though- good word!

  • I’ve heard many of people talk about your blogs, but have never made my way to reading them, until today from your link on facebook. Really enjoyed it! Shall visit more often, this was great!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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