A few days ago we read a short family devotional about authority. A couple of sentences stuck with me, and I went back to it the next day to read it again and let it sink in. Though the story and lesson were directed toward the children, the principles were applicable to all of us.
“Instead of helping people worship God the [Pharisees] put burdensome laws upon them. Almost every time the Pharisees used their power, they were trying to stop someone from doing something. Almost every time Jesus used his power, He was helping someone to do something.” (Boyhood and Beyond, Bob Schultz)
So, how do we use our authority well? How do I use my authority well?
I hear myself trying to stop the children from doing things most of the day. Of course, as a parent, there are times when we do need to say “no”. The children need clear boundaries and protection from danger. We must require obedience from them, and teach them to joyfully submit to other authorities. But I had to ask myself if I could do those things in a way that is more helpful and less burdensome to the children. I’m still evaluating my own use of authority and praying about how I can use my authority in a more positive way.
The Pharisees required nothing less than perfection, but Jesus requires obedience. There is grace and forgiveness when we fall short. There is comfort and encouragement when we don’t. He disciplines those that he loves, yet he is patient and slow to anger. My response to my children should reflect the grace, forgiveness, and patience that the the Lord freely gives to me.
In 2 Cor. 10:8, Paul says that God gave him authority for building up and not for destroying.
That’s what I want. I want my children to feel built up, encouraged and strengthened by my words…not beat down.
So, as I continue to evaluate the way I use my own authority, I’m praying that I use my power for building up and helping the children, and not for destroying their spirits and burdening them with unnecessary laws.