We didn’t agree. There was tension. They couldn’t see things my way and I couldn’t see things their way. With my voice cracking and tears of frustration pouring down my face, I stomped back to my room.
Say hello to my sixteen-year-old self, struggling with authority.
Growing up, my parents and I always had a great relationship. But even great relationships don’t escape conflict. There were several occasions where my parent’s and I strongly disagreed about something. I was sure my way was better.
In my anger, I would often respond to them in frustration, tears, and disrespect.
A few hours would go by, then I would always feel this little conviction of Holy Spirit prompting me to seek reconciliation. In the end, things would turn out fine.
However, in those moments of frustration, I remember thinking things like, “I can’t wait to be on my own someday and not have to deal with my parents’ rules and authority anymore!”
Have you ever felt that way?
What I didn’t fully realize then though, and do now, is that authority doesn’t stop when we leave the house. If it’s not our parents, it’s our teacher. If it’s not our teacher it’s our boss at work. If it’s not our boss at work, it’s that sports coach, or the police, or the government…or someone else.
And ultimately, above all of these people, our greatest authority is God Himself.
Authority is a natural part of life and something everyone has to deal with. If we don’t learn how to handle authority in the right way, we will struggle against it our entire lives.
Instead of fighting against authority, there’s a better way. In fact, God has laid out for us a plan to not only survive under authority but to thrive! Authority is God’s idea. It’s actually a good thing. As Christians, we must learn how to respond to authority in a biblical and God-honoring way.
So if you’re anything like my sixteen-year-old self who struggled with authority, I think this post is going to be really helpful and encouraging to you. I know it would have been for me.
Here are 3 ways to respond to authority in a God-honoring way:
1. Trust God with the Authorities He Has Placed Over You.
First, we have to understand that authority comes from God Himself. Romans 13 teaches us that governing authorities have been put in place by God. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1).
Whether we like the authority over us or not, we have to trust that God has allowed that person to be in authority for a reason. Our job is to trust God. When it comes to specific authorities like our parents, Ephesians 6:1-3 commands us to show them honor. Whether we agree with our parents or not, our job is to trust God and obey his command to honor them.
Ultimately, the authorities in our lives are actually training us to trust God in deeper ways. Earthly authorities are the training ground for teaching us to respond well to our Heavenly authority. The more we submit to God in our lives, the easier it will be to honor the authorities He has placed over us.
2. Respect the Position.
Let’s get one thing straight. Honoring someone in authority doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. It also doesn’t mean that the person in authority is honorable. We may not always respect the person in authority over us, but God is calling us to respect the position (regardless of the person).
Check out what 2 Peter 2:13-15 says, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”
Whether we’re dealing with a difficult parent, an unfair coach, a “crazy” teacher, or someone else, our job us to respect the position of authority that person is in. We don’t have to like them, but we are called to honor their position as the authority. Bad mouthing them, disrespecting them, or gossiping about them ultimately shows disrespect to God.
3. Respond with a Sincere Heart
Our struggle with authority reveals our deeper struggle against God Himself. In our flesh, we resist all forms of authority. We want what we want. We don’t like anyone telling us what to do. That’s the sin inside of us. Our struggle with authority exposes our need for Christ to change our hearts.
Ephesians 6:5-8 shows us that God cares more about the condition of our heart than the obedience of our actions. When responding to authority, we’re called to do it “with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man…”
We can’t respond sincerely to authority without the help of Christ. We need to pray and ask God to change our hearts to respond humbly to the authorities in our lives. The more seek to honor God, the easier it will be to respond humbly to authority.
Whether you’re currently dealing with a difficult authority in your life or not, I pray these truths will help you see how God wants you to respond.
Ask God to give you the grace to respond well to the authorities in your life.
- What do you find difficult about authority right now?
- Of the 3 points from above, which one is the hardest for you to embrace? Why?
- What do you need to change to respond respectfully to authorities right now?