The phrase “Moral Authority” has been invoked with passion in recent months. Moral Authority is having the capital of experience to support your worldview. Someone asked me a few days ago, “If a liar tells you, ‘Lying is wrong.’ should you trust them ?” In one sense, Yes. They’re right, even if they don’t practice what they preach. However, they have not earned the trust needed to possess the moral authority to say what they said.
There is more to being a person of influence than just ability. Relational experience is a vital component. You must have, more than just the right message, the moral capital to preach said message. There is a great inequity in being instructed in an arena by someone who has never competed in that arena. They may be right but they’re hard to listen to. There is something found in common experiences that binds the teacher and listener. When you’ve “been there and spent the night” it gives you the moral authority to address a particular issue.
When I would teach or preach on parent/child issues before I had a child I was always met with some resistance. “You don’t understand…you don’t have children.” However, after I had a child my opinions and insights were met with interest and acceptance. What made the difference? I joined the Daddy club.
After having endured some great disappointments in the past few months I have learned a lesson in compassion. The most comforting of counselors are those who have shared experiences and shared defeats.
It seems as if the ministers that are greatly used to bring healing and peace to those in turmoil, men of great anointing, are those who themselves have experienced great trouble in their lives. The anointing oil, after all, was produced by the crushing of spices. The crushing released the fragrance sealed inside of the cinnamon, the cassia and the olive. It seems as if adversity really can produce greatness in a life.
On the surface it seems incredibly unfair to limit the degree of importance a persons opinion is given based on their experience. Or does it?
Think of all the clichés that follow the same logic: Walk a mile in a man’s shoes, Birds of a feather flock together, Misery loves company, Blood is thicker than water and It takes one to know one. In other words, no one likes a cowboy who is “all hat and no cattle”.
Even Jesus has the testimony that “He was in all points tempted like we are…” (Heb. 4:15) http://bible.cc/hebrews/4-15.htm . There is great value in shared experiences.
Jesus possesses the moral authority to address the issues of the heart and soul of mankind. He’s been there and “spent the night”. If anyone can help, He can. It seems that is a great comfort of His incarnation.
That is what Christmas is about. God walked a mile in our shoes.