Why We Have a Problem Submitting to Authority

By Amanda Stephens

Note: This article is a composition of my thoughts that were inspired by Ben Stuart, Executive Director of Breakaway Ministries at Texas A&M University. 

I think our generation struggles with living under authority. I know I do.

It has taken me a long time to discover the root of my problem with authority, and until I find the root cause of a problem, I don’t know how to go about working through it.

Ben suggested that we don’t like authority because someone who has had some kind of authority in our lives has abused us with it. This is true for me. I have seen my father demand respect and misuse his authority of our household in a way that has contributed to the destruction of our family.

The person who misused authority in your life could have been a teacher at school, a boss at work, or a partner in a friendship or relationship. We live in a fallen world where people will selfishly take advantage of you. This kind of authority in our lives enslaves us and makes us want to defy that authority. And once you have one bad experience, there is usually a bad taste left in your mouth. You don’t want that same bad experience to happen again, so you would just rather not deal with authority at all.

That leads to my next problem: the misconception of my own control. I would rather just try to be my own authority because I am less fearful of it being abused. But once you think you can control everything, you will be left frustrated and hopeless because you never really had any control in the first place.

There are so many things I can’t control, so it is illogical for me to think that I am the only authority over my life. So then, who is the ultimate authority over my life? This is where I want to point to Jesus and some Scripture.

When you look at Jesus’ life on earth, specifically in the Gospel of Mark, He demonstrated His authority over all things. He has the ability to command both the physical and spiritual realms, as seen through the healing of disease (1:31), the casting out of demons (1:25), and the calming of the seas (4:39). Jesus had an authority about Him that no one could really understand. 

While we can use power to hurt others in order to benefit ourselves, Jesus did the complete opposite. Rather than using His power to enslave us, He used His authority to free us, even if it meant “becoming obedient to the point of death” (Philippians 2:8).

As Ben Stuart said, “Power in the service of love is liberating.”

If I let Jesus be the authority over my life,  He is not going to misuse it. I think it is apparent through the cross that He paved a way for us to be free because He loves us that much.

While there are people in your life that have and will misuse their power over you, don’t let that turn you away from trusting the One who will never fail you. And take it a step further. You have enough love and grace from Jesus to give to even those who hurt you with their power. You can choose to love, respect, and obey the authority God has placed in your life. 

Even Jesus submitted to the authority of His Father. God told Him to die, and He said yes. Jesus stood silent against His accusers as they nailed Him to a cross. That’s amazing. If He can, I can. 

Humbly follow Jesus, joyfully submit to the authority in your life, and remember who is your ultimate Ruler who died to set you free.

Legacy Ladies Note: We want to make it clear that when we refer to authority, we do not mean abuse. If you find yourself in that situation seek help immediately. When we say the misuse of power, we are referring to the natural failings of humans in our sin condition. Only God can rule perfectly. 

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