The “A” word: Authority
Ahh, we welcome and embrace the word “authority”, Team, in the context of “taking or take” and “walk in”, yes? Rightfully so! What an awesome privilege and honor we have to exercise the authority given to us by faith in Jesus Christ (Luke 9:1-2, Luke 10:19).
But hold on. There’s another side to authority that causes many followers of Christ to cringe, resist, and “feel some type of way”.
It’s when the “A” word meets the “S” word – Submit.
What emotional, non-verbal response did reading the word “submit” invoke in you? Did your spirit throw confetti and leap for joy? Was there a slight squirm, or an eye roll?
It’s amazing how each and every one of us on Team Jesus is given the command (play call) to submit to authority, and every one of us has at some point tried to wiggle out of doing so. God expects us all, regardless of gender, title, or status to submit ourselves to Him (1 Peter 5:6), to our supervisors and government (Romans 13), and even to graciously submit to each other (Ephesians 5:21).
But for many of us, when it comes to authority – it’s better to receive than give. We enjoy reaping the benefits when others submit to us, but when the humility ball is in our hands, we quickly toss it away.
Mike? I Wanna Be Like Jesus!
Let’s be reminded of the examples of our Coach, Jesus Christ. As our savior and teacher, Jesus practiced what he preached. He was the first partaker of humility, acting under the sole authority of our heavenly Father, in all that He said or did.
Submitting to authority, practicing humility, and dying to pride is a tall order for some of us. And, many times we don’t realize when we’re showing dishonor rather than honoring authority. But we aren’t left without actionable, practical examples in the Word of God, our playbook, to guide us in wisdom and good judgment regarding authority.
Think of these examples from Jesus’ life:
1. Don’t take your title or position too seriously.
Jesus is Savior, Divine, the Risen King, Creator… Not one thing came into existence without Him (John 1:3). He is the embodiment of “Us” in “Let us make man.” (Genesis 1:26) Yet, his every move was to glorify His Father in Heaven. Jesus was not confused by the association of authority, His place in the God-head, and knowing how to humble and honor the Supreme authority – God the Father.
He never got “pumped up” with pride that He was the Savior of the whole world, that He was the one who had to be crucified – not the Father or the Holy Spirit. Jesus never used his suffering as justification to ‘buck’ authority.
How often do we feel we have legitimate reasons to refuse to submit to authority?
So, don’t fight against authority when you feel you’ve contributed just as much as the other person. When we work as “unto the Lord” as Jesus did for the Father (Colossians 3:23-24), the credit and reward will also come from the Lord, which is far better than any accolade or acknowledgment of man.
2. Don’t put your name on someone else’s vision or idea.
Did you know that we submit to authority by giving credit where credit is due? The will of my Father. Notice how Jesus made it perfectly clear that He came to do the will of His Father who sent Him (John 6:38). The humility and submission of Jesus never allowed Him to shine the light on Himself, but always to glorify Father God – the One in authority.
Teammate, are you passing someone else’s vision off as your own? Do you manipulate the work of others to shine the light on yourself?
When we submit to the authority of those over us, God will exalt us in due season with our own vision. Just be sure, Team, that when He does, we give all glory to God, none for ourselves.
3. Know when to question, how to question, and when to do what you’re told.
Jesus gives us the example of his complete submission to God in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). There, He petitions God, “If it is possible”, to avoid the crucifixion and separation from the Father. The example here is HOW to ask questions of those in authority.
First, notice Jesus asks – not tells God what to do. Jesus does not attack God’s thought process or solution, but remains in a posture of “not my will, but yours”.
How do you handle those in authority with competing interests or strategies?
Second, Jesus accepts the Father’s decision. After receiving the final answer and peace from the Father, Jesus rises up and falls in line with God’s plan.
When exercising honor to those in authority, we have to know when we’ve done enough asking, suggesting, crying, or made enough recommendations contrary to the original marching order – and just get it done!
In our walk with Christ, God also asks us to do things that will cause us pain, suffering, and sacrifice. It is not our job to critique God or consider Him mean and unjust. God did not ask our opinion or permission for Him to be God, nor for Him to be the righteous judge.
But, trust that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and the hard tasks will not be faced alone. God helps us through every opportunity to give Him glory – both painful and pleasant.
So, what’s the play call?
Here’s to submission to authority that’s easier to manage, and do so with grace and honor. Our Coach has lead us by word and example. Let’s get it done!