Rethinking Authority: Part 1

No question, many of us have a bittersweet relationship with [our idea of] “authority”. We know it’s essential, we know it’s relevant…but we chafe when it comes to being under it1.

Perhaps you’ve wondered why “authority” rubs people the wrong way and creates quivers among the masses…

If that’s you, then you’re in the right place.

‘Cause whether you’re in authority and suspect the authenticity of your subordinates…or are under it and think the term is nothing more than a means for manipulation/a code word for power, addressing the issue of ‘what to do when you question authority’ is key.

With that said, here are a couple practical ways to rightfully deal with authority (as supported by Scripture):

1) Pray. As cliché as it may sound, voicing supplication is not so much a ‘good idea’, as it is a Kingdom mandate (or as I call…an “appointed opportunity“) for us to engage. Take 1 Timothy 2:1-3 for instance. In this passage, Paul is urging his younger colleague to intercede for all. Yet, as Paul commences his rundown in verse 2, note how he doesn’t start with the Isaiah 61:1 trio (i.e. poor, brokenhearted, and captives)…he starts with kings and all who are in high positions!

Why is this important, you might ask? Well, if we start with Scriptural context, the higher-ups of Paul’s time were despised political groups, mainly Roman officials and religious leaders (ex: The Jerusalem Council). So by saying, ‘all who are in high positions’, Paul wastes no time in going after the white elephant in the room…which for his audience was “loving your enemies”.

Despite the challenging command, Paul’s initiative here is not so much the call itself as it is the hope of God’s faithfulness, particularly in helping us “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way2 (v. 2b). Thus, it should be no surprise Paul strategically writes this in an attention-grabbing way, considering the awesome reward promised through obedience. Pretty cool, eh?

So in short, Paul takes the Golden Rule and stitches it to prayer’s original design. More specifically, we pray for all men because it a) glorifies God and b) since we’d want others to do the same for us…regardless of how they feel. True, you may not want to pray for certain individuals, such as those who seem to have it all together…who disregard you…and/or who give the “peaceful and godly life” a bad name…

…but if you think about it, would not the world be a better place if what you hoped for actually happened?

Just sayin’…

2) Set the example. While prayer sets an inner tone, it’s important to set an external one as well. How do we accomplish this? By inspiring others to submit to authority! Granted, this may not sound like a thrilling concept; nevertheless, for prayer to be fervent and effective, it must ultimately be tethered to action, which in an authority context, is accomplished once we choose to be content wherever we are.

For example, you may be far down the totem pole with respect to your workplace hierarchy. You may think people look down on you because you’re young or have other priorities. Instead of grumbling, complaining, and/or risking a half-hearted effort, why not flip the frustration3 into rejoicing and be a living, breathing manifestation of Colossians 3:23:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

‘Cause truth is, when we focus on Christ, our ultimate authority, we not only promote a heart of humility, but we also position ourselves to better serve our earthly authorities, encouraging others to do the same…all the while preserving the integrity of our influence as the healthy outflow of obedience.

So by honoring authority, by word and action, we model a tangible faith with the power to draw people near to the light we carry. Sure, we may not always agree with our earthly authorities…heck, we may not even like them…but if we’re faithful to rely on God as our vindicator…if we confess our desire to inspire the hope of Christ, then we’ll better understand how a) God always appoints with a purpose (see Romans 13:1-7)…and b) He wants us to be a part of that purpose!

I don’t know about you…but I want to accept the mission to not only honor authority…but love the way God positions people, regardless if it’s impossible in my own strength.

Stay tuned next time for a ‘second half wrap-up’ of this post, in which we’ll address our final two points on rightfully dealing with authority.

Footnotes

1) Or for some, operating within or delegating it

2) Granted we stay faithful to pray for all people

3) Or temptation to be frustrated

Cover photo creds: banner personnel.com

3 Ways to Overcome a Fear of Rejection

No doubt, we all burn to belong.

Makes sense…considering we were made for relationship…to put on love and commune in harmony (Romans 12:16; 1 Corinthians 1:10, Colossians 3:14).

But let’s be honest…such desires aren’t always realized, are they.

Relocations…busyness…life changes…even the walls we put up…cycle through as hindrances interfering with our need to find unity in community.

Yet, perhaps the greatest obstacle we face when we talk about healthy relationships is the fear of rejection1.

Now, I admit: I’m still progressing through my own set of relational insecurities. But while I may have much to learn, I’ve also grown a great deal having persevered through idolatrous pursuits of acceptance in my early 20’s , in addition to recent challenges as a bivocational minister.

So when I say a fear of rejection is one of the most paralyzing strongholds, you can take my word to the bank.

As far as dealing with this fear type, you’ve probably heard much on the topic already.

Yet, for bivocationals juggling multiple responsibilities on the fly, it’s worth re-emphasizing given fear’s tendency to find its way on the backburner.

Thus, in the spirit of stirring awareness, here are three practical ways to conquer a fear of rejection:

1) Own it. 

Statistics show the vast majority of what people worry about is either vain (false reality) or beyond their control (false expectations). In most cases, we fear once we sense a loss of control on a desirable outcome. For example, we want people to like us, but find we lack “chemistry”. We want to be living our dream, but find our reality is far from it. We want to reap securities, but find all we have is fractured hope.

No question, the chasms are real; however, this doesn’t mean we’re chained to them until the bridge forms. Why? Because it’s only when we relinquish our lust for control we start to conquer our fears.

So next time you find yourself fearing rejection, questioning your fit, place, image, safety..or that of a loved one, own it, surrender the stress, pray the Word, embrace self-control, and faint not.

2) Reject it.

Sometimes, we treat fear like a giant game of dodgeball. We think if we can just finagle through life without getting hit, then we’ll be okay. The problem with this idea is…at some point, you will get hit, if not with the fear, then the temptation of it.

The best way to combat fear, especially the fear of rejection, is to value what equips you. ‘Cause when you realize you have what it takes to overcome, you won’t hesitate to stand your ground when the dodgeballs start flyin’, not to mention you’ll be in position to catch and dispatch them.

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Just remember: When a fear of rejection is elevated to the point of dodging certain people and situations, you’re ultimately giving it the power to manipulate your emotions and decisions. Instead, why not dare to be a conqueror (Romans 8:37) and reject fear rather than let fear do the rejecting2?

 3) Replace it.

Perhaps one of the most misinterpreted passages in all of Scripture is 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” At first glance, we may think Peter is suggesting love cancels out certain offenses; however, when we dissect the text, we find love, in this context, is a covering, more specifically…an opportunity for us to confront3, forgive, and press on in love-soaked honesty.

How does this apply to a fear of rejection? Well, for starters, the opposite of love is fear (not hate). Furthermore, love must speak truth (Ephesians 4:15) and requires action with respect to sin. Thus, if we value honesty as the first step of love4 and recognize fear as a reciprocating response, then we’ll realize how a) a fear of rejection numbs us to what we were created for5   and b) the absence of fear is not the endgame, but rather the beginning!

In other words, if you want to move on the right way, but are still burdened by a fear of rejection, don’t just recognize and renounce it. Rather, take the next step and ask God specifically how He wants you to replace it!

‘Cause when you do, you’ll not only discover a new commitment to communicate the truth in love, but also unlock a stronger fear of Him6.   

Footnotes

1) Note: Initially, I had planned to write this piece on the fears of rejection and mediocrity; however, I’ve since decided to split this up into two parts, with today’s discussion focusing on the fear of rejection and next week’s feature on the fear of mediocrity.

2) There’s basically two responses to fear: “Forget everything and run” or “Face everything and rise

3) …without taking offense

4) Inspired by Steve Fry’s sermon at The Gate Community Church on Sunday, May 31

5) Seriously…what sense does it make to forfeit even the potential for relational restoration and/or clarity in exchange for passive living, isolation, guilt, and dissatisfaction.

6) As honesty abounds, you’ll find a fear of rejection will confound.

Photo credits: shifttohappy.com