Lack respect for authority?


Do you lack respect for those in authority over you? If so, how are you handling this situation? Are you handling it in a biblical manner?

As I meet with leaders, their teams, as well as other’s simply in life relationships, I find that where relationships aren’t working, there is always a lack of trust and respect at the core. I’m sure we’ve all been there at one time or another. Possibly, you’re in that relationship right now. Today’s questions is about how we should address a lack of respect for those in authority over us.

Sitting in my office back in 2000, I remember a conversation with my boss. He was encouraging me and in stowing confidence in my abilities, however, he was also gently letting me know he wasn’t sure I respected his authority. You see, back then and still some today, I had this “pride and ego” thing ongoing. I use to pride myself in the mindset that “the President of the company put’s his pants on the same way I do.” While a bit of this confidence and not being a “yes man” was good, was I taking it too far?

Following some significant changes in our organizational structure a couple years later, I was really struggling with a lack of respect of those in authority in our company and submitting to their authority. In fact, there were times that I felt I was being unjustly treated. Being a Christian, I read 1 Peter 2:18-19 (NIV) over and over. It says: “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.” Having read this and many other similar scriptures, I “attempted” to submit to their authority.

Notice that I used the word “attempted”. Unfortunately, if we’re not very intentional in addressing the relationship, a lack of trust and respect for a person isn’t going to get better. It normally spirals down hill in a hurry. Well, that was the case for me as well. While I attempted to build back trust and respect for our leadership, the reality is that it was taking one step forward and two steps backward. Thus, in the heat of the battle, I lost self-control at times which didn’t do me any favors. Yes, if there’s one thing I regret about this period of my career, it’s that I let the situation get to a point of losing self control and displaying my lack of respect very directly to my superiors. It resulted in my moving on to a better opportunity, however, I wish it had come down in a different manner.

So, the question is how do you handle situations like this in a biblical manner. Let’s look at what Roman’s has to say:

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” (Romans 13:1-7 NIV)

Yes, time and time again in the scriptures, you’ll find reference to our need to submit to authority. So, my issue wasn’t that I wasn’t a “yes man”, it was that I lost self control and didn’t submit to authority. However, another variable in the equation to consider is how long do we submit!

Looking at it from a different prospective, have you ever heard the phrase, “people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses”? My story above extends over a period of several years. As you can tell, the environment finally took it’s toll on me and I lost control. Is there ever a time that I should have “quit my boss” due to an inability to respect him? Let’s take it out of the context of the “boss” and put it into the context of the local church. Clearly, God has placed leaders of the local church in a position of authority. Yes, I know Hebrews 13:17 (ESV) says that our earthly leaders “will have to give an account”; however, when is enough, enough? If the ships going down, at what point do I get off? If no one ever “quits the boss”, how will he ever know the ship is going down?

In an earlier post, I discussed the need to “let go and move on” and that sometimes there are “necessary endings”. In this post, I reference my own personal job loss as a necessary ending. However, in today’s post, I want to bring light to that fact that that necessary ending didn’t happen in a Godly manner and might have been too far out. You see, I had read all the scriptures and earnestly attempted to get my heart right in the situation. However, no matter how hard I tried, the ship was still going down. When I refer to the “ship” in this case, I’m not referring the company, I’m referring to Chris. Yes, I was the one going down!

Likely a topic for another post, however, we have different circles of influence in our lives. One of those circles are people or environments which aren’t necessarily moving us closer to Jesus. My work situation was an example of one of these environments. As stated earlier, I was taking one step forward and two steps backward. While I believe we must submit to those in authority, give them our respect, and understand the pressure they’re under; after a reasonable amount of time, if the environment isn’t drawing you closer in your relationship with Jesus, then it’s time to “let go and move on”. Doing so will hopefully allow you to refocus on Jesus which is all you really can control. Also, when you “quit the boss”, it might happen to be that catalyst which refocuses them on Jesus as well; however, you can’t control that one.

So, if you’re in the mist of a tough decision right now, I hope today’s post has given you some additional things to ponder. As you’ve likely noted, I haven’t made it clear as to stay in the relationship or move on. Hopefully you did gain appreciation for continuing to submit and maintain respect for authority even if you decide there needs to be a necessary ending. It should be our goal that all necessary ending “end well” and not out of a lose of love, respect, or self control.

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