The Benefit of Authority

You know what we all need? A boss. We need somebody to be the authority in our lives. We don’t always want one, but we always need one. I’ve consistently seen the value to oversight and the danger in being left exposed without a covering. Left unchecked, practically all of us will start to divert off course sooner or later.

The value of a boss is that legitimate authority makes a way for us. Submission provides a benefit to the one that is submitted. Where we will come under authority, we have the opportunity to be elevated beyond where we could go without that covering.

The framework of order ordained by God is authority, submission and honor. Without all three, the other two don’t get a chance. In other words, without authority, there is no framework for honor. The framework accommodates purpose that extends beyond our limitations. The framework provides a multiplier to our gifts and abilities that can propel us beyond our ourselves.

Most of us have some bad boss experiences so we wince at the idea that a boss is a good idea. We think we would rather go it alone. If we could just do what we know is right without the hassle of the reports, reprimands, disagreements or other opinions that differ from ours, then we could really get it done. The problem is that left completely without authority, the things that we began with good intentions become distorted by our lack of perspective.

In a corporate setting, authority takes care of itself. In an entrepreneurial or volunteer situation, you may have to be intentional about submitting yourself. Submission doesn’t have to be formal, but it does have to be weight-bearing. To get beyond yourself, you have to welcome the oversight, correction and influence of another. It can be a mentor, assuming you are truly submitted, but that mentor or other influence must be dedicated to your good to the extent that they are not afraid to call out your bad.

Submission is a benefit where there is righteous rule and it is even beneficial where there is unrighteous rule. Where there is righteous rule, authority makes a way for the one that is submitted. Where there is unrighteous rule, authority shapes the character of the one that is submitted. While either can be for just a season, both can propel us on to bigger and better things than we could or would accomplish on our own without the benefit of the framework.



Consequences Are Your Friend

One day I was checking the docket at the courthouse when a woman approached me to ask where a particular courtroom was. She went on to explain that she was nervous because her son was scheduled for an appearance on a possession of marijuana charge. “Why does that make you nervous,” I asked her?

“He could go to jail,” she said.

“Did you drive here today?” I asked. After confirming that she had driven her son to the courthouse, I responded by encouraging her that “well, if he goes to jail, just drive home.”

“But he’s my baby,” she explained.

“How old is he?” I asked. After learning that he was 19, I told her, “he’s not your baby, he’s a grown man.” It was about that time that he walked over. “Is this him?” I asked, and she affirmed that it was.

“Listen,” I told him, “you are not a child anymore. Smoking weed and getting your mom to drive you to court are childish. You are a man, you are equipped to be a man and it’s time to start being a man. When I was a child, I acted like one, but when I became a man, I put childish things behind me. It’s time for you to do the same; you are a man and you are capable of putting childish things away.”

This young man’s shoulders straightened up, his eyes locked in and everything about his body language accepted the reality I was presenting him. His mom, at the same time, looked scared to death. It was clear that she was much less ready for him to be a man than he was.

I don’t know what happened with his court case, but whatever consequences he had to deal with were a benefit to him. A misdemeanor on his record is a small price to pay if he was able to allow for the consequence to draw him into responsibility.

Love allows for consequences because consequences allow for repentance. When we have to deal with the implications of our immaturity and/or depravity, we are more aware of the goodness of God. From that place of pain that comes as a result of or rebellion or immaturity, we get to choose. The choice to submit our lives back to the goodness of God is much more appealing when we have tried it without Him and are facing the reality of our choices.

We all mess up sometimes. The stuff that we do is not who we are. Don’t rescue people from their consequences and don’t believe that the mistakes are who they are any more than your mistakes are who you are. It’s the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance; not the sloppy compassion or harsh judgment which we may offer in its place.

Walking Out Is Permissible, but Not Beneficial

Some students at Notre Dame exercised their First Amendment rights and walked out of their commencement ceremony a few days ago when the Vice President of the United States began his speech. While I certainly would (and have) defend their Constitutional right to leave in protest, I challenge their judgement in choosing to do so. For any courage they may have displayed, their lack of honor and maturity was that much more glaring.

These young people, while accomplished in the sense that they have earned degrees from such a fine institution as Notre Dame, haven’t really done much of anything yet. Their lives are just getting started and they have much to learn as they endeavor to accomplish things they have only dreamed of. By contrast, Vice President Pence has graduated from undergrad and law school in addition to serving as a U.S. Congressman and the Governor of Indiana prior to his election as Vice President.

They presumably walked out over disagreements with his policies. He is a staunch conservative who undoubtedly offends their beliefs. Now that they are out of school, they can do something about it. They can organize, write, volunteer or run for office, among other things. They can enter the conversation with greater focus and commitment now that they aren’t distracted by their studies. They can get in the game, but the game requires that you stay in the room. Not walk out.

The idea of ideas requires dialogue. Those young people don’t have things figured out solely from their own perspective any more than Mike Pence does. To sharpen, refine, develop and deploy their fledgling beliefs, they have to stay in the room. They have to hear the other guy(s) out if they want to actually be heard. It goes both ways. There may even be things that he, or others that they disagree with, say that they learn and/or grow from. If they stay in the room for long enough, they may get to share something that challenges or develops the belief of their antagonists, whoever they turn out to be.

Honor is not solely a reflection of the other person; it’s a reflection of the character of the one that is offering it. You give honor because your have honor to give, not just because they earned it. Honor given where there is disagreement isn’t agreement, it’s a reflection of the maturity of your character. It’s evidence of the humility required to serve and credibility required to be heard. Honor stays in the room.

Pressing Through Trials to Advance in Maturity, Wisdom & Character

I have a friend that has interesting counsel when you share a struggle with him. If you are going through some difficulty, he’ll ask, “Do you think you are at the front end of that challenge, in the middle of it, or closing in on the end? It’s good to know so you can persevere and get everything out of it God wants you to see.”

God doesn’t torture us, but He will allow for discomfort to shape us. He’ll use the troubles that are inevitable in our fallen state to mature us into greater relationship. As we are going through whatever it is we are going through, the best thing that we can do is look for the best things within it. At least then, the wisdom available through the adversity is maximized.

If we are looking for the fastest way out of any discomfort we face, we are cheating the process that is available for the production of wisdom and maturity. “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4)

Discomfort is not appealing and all too often not highlighted related to the Christian message. We love the promises and the freedom and the identity stuff, but the suffering part isn’t too compatible with our American Dream(s). It must be an attack.

We are sons of God and heirs with Christ and can share in the glory of Christ . . . if we will share in the sufferings of Christ (Romans 8:17). So difficulty invites inheritance in as much as we persevere. In as much as we stay the course despite the challenge and doubt, we can increasingly taste of the victory.

When, not if, you are going through whatever stuff it is that you go through, consider whether it’s the beginning, middle or end and hold on. Hold on and journal. Don’t miss “it,” whatever “it” is for that experience. Come out of it with more character than you went into it with as it finishes it’s work by your acceptance that suffering is not always an attack, but sometimes an advance.

Vote Today, Then Decide

voteLove doesn’t control, but it allows. It allows for rejection and rebellion. Since it allows for those things, it allows for the consequences of those things as well.

We, as a nation, choose a president today. We have been afforded the love of God by allowing us to reject His love and rebel against His truth. We are increasingly seeing the consequences of our godlessness in our nation.

I don’t believe any informed observer would claim with good conscious that the two predominant candidates are anything less than flawed. Yet, they reflect the choices of the American people. We are allowed to choose representatives that have not consistently embraced God’s truth to the extent that it shows up in their character. We also get to deal with whatever consequences these leaders bring.

The beauty of consequences is that they cause the one feeling the sting of bad choices to consider what better options they have. Where there has been rebellion, the consequences of rebellion allow for re-consideration of submission. The rebel can change their mind, or repent, and return to the benefits of the protection and provision that come with Headship.

We have not been one nation under God in quite some time. We have chosen to be a nation of many little gods, where everybody’s individual and flawed emotions, opinions, offenses and preferences drive the agenda. Our direction is without direction and our source is ourselves. Truth is subjective so it isn’t absolutely true at all and honor is no apparent consideration in most aspects of our society, certainly not government.

We are not well, but there is an invitation to change. There is an invitation back to wellness. If we choose to turn back to the love of God and allow His love to change us, things will change. This can’t be a governmental program or law passed, it has to be the mustard seed of one heart. One heart chooses and the testimony of their life points another heart to the same choice. Then another, then another.

Vote today, then decide. Decide what areas of your life are in need of submission to receive the love of God. Allow Him to change you and then share life with others. He can change them, too, but you can’t. Just share your story transparently; the good, the bad and the ugly. You didn’t change by a mandate, guilt or shame, but by His love. That’s how “they” can change, too.


Worth the Wait

Patiently-Waiting_Geralt_Pixabay-Public-DomainI just got back from a Quest and saw it again. I saw the difference between the way we normally try to do things and the way that things work. The consistency of the power of encounter is amazing and transformative time and time again. The value of waiting on eternal things by temporarily getting away is infinite.

Once again, God changed lives from the inside out when we stepped away from the outside stuff that distracts us. He met the men on this Quest, including myself and the staff, in ways that only He can. I am reminded of the power of holding and not needing to fix things for others who are seeking for themselves. The wait allows for the change.

We are so accustomed to seeking information that will make things different. When we draw near to God, we get transformation. One word from Him changes what a library of books and lifetime of sermons can’t address. The books and the sermons have new meaning as we are new from the encounter.

Life gets on us and in us and we carry around hurts and lies that distort our perspective. The unpacking of those lies starts with looking at our choices and seeking God’s insight on why we do what we do. In the areas where we have habitual problems, we will find that we are operating from a lie. When that has been persistent for an extended period of time, that lie was spoken into some wound and took root there. Chasing, asking, listening and waiting allows for the uncovering of that things that produces the things we hate. Then He heals it.

Often we don’t want to go there and/or don’t know it’s there in the first place. We’re too busy. Sometimes we’re too busy with Christian stuff to wait on Christ. Our well intended applications of His truth leave us frustrated when it’s more us trying to do than it is Him in us coming through. We strive for the right reasons but with the wrong methods.

He wants to change our hearts and the result will be our choices change along with it. We will find the healing, redemption and equipping for things to be different, but we have to wait on the One that makes things different. We can do good things, but He does supernatural things. When we wait.