My last few posts about teaching – and especially teaching when the church gathers – flies in the face of common church tradition and practice. In the normal view, teaching is tied to authority which is tied to position. If you have the right position, then you teach with authority.
Of course, this leads to huge problems. The primary problem – at least from my perspective – is that teaching from a position of authority is not really teaching as we find it in Scripture. Instead, in Scripture, teaching is from a position of service as we share our lives together.
There is another problem though. You see, if we focus on teaching and authority associated with position, then what happens when someone comes along with a “higher” position.
Skye recognizes this problem in his post “The Platform Principle.” He writes:
This radio show had more authority in Stacy’s life than I did. What authority I possessed had been built through years of sound teaching and the vetting of denominational leaders. But it was no match for the authority granted by Stacy to a speaker she heard on the radio.
In marketing lingo it’s called platform. The logic is simple—the magnitude of your platform determines the scope of your authority. Someone with an audience of one million has more authority than someone with an audience of one hundred. The assumption: the larger platform is a result of the person’s competency, intelligence, or character. That, of course, is not always the case.
Today authority is granted to those who have simply proven they can build a platform.
From the quote (and from the remainder of the article), the author is concerned that someone who should be under his authority (because of his position) has decided to rely on another person’s authority based on their position (as demonstrated by their larger platform). In fact, the author’s practice of teaching from his own position of authority leads his audience to understand that authority and teaching come from positions… and, of course, the bigger the position (such as a radio personality with a huge audience) the bigger the authority.
But, what if our ability to impact another person’s life was not based on our position at all? What if our ability to teach someone else resulted from our shared life experiences – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and demonstrated ability to live the truths of God – not our ability to speak the truths of God?
I think things would be quite different… for everyone involved… even the “teacher.”