I once had a client over a long period of time and each time I visited the customer’s office I had to pass by the lobby guard. Because I parked in the front visitor’s parking lot the guard always saw me walking up. Even though I visited the office many times, he’d always ask me to sign in at the register. Some weeks I was at that building 2-3 times, so I was virtually a regular. However, over time, his constant asking me to sign-in started to get on my nerves.
I thought, “who is this guy asking me to sign in…doesn’t he know me by now? He’s seen me dozens of times and he still forces me to stop from my busy day to sign this &*^%$* guest book.” To spite him, and to put forth the least amount of effort, sometimes I’d just write down my initials and the initials of the customer – I didn’t want to adhere to his ‘unnecessary and demeaning’ request.
To top it all off, he was a sort of squirrely guy who never looked me in the eye or never spoke up. He always spoke under his breath and he sort of had a bossy tone to his voice. I grew to hate going through that lobby. It’s like he had something out for me. I didn’t even like looking at this guy and certainly not talking to him. My dismissive attitude got worse and worse over many months.
I then read a book by Watchman Nee called Spiritual Authority. The author tells the Bible story about how for years King Saul chased after soon-to-be-king David in the desert trying to kill him. Saul felt threatened by David and wanted him dead. Saul brought 3,000 soldiers to find and kill David and his small band of men. Then, one day David was with his men in a cave hiding when Saul came into the same cave to “relieve himself”. David’s men quietly suggested to David that God had allowed this very event to occur so that he could finally kill Saul and become king.
But….David did not kill him. However, David did cut a piece off of Saul’s robe while he was “busy in the bathroom”. Later David was quite remorseful for cutting off part of Saul’s robe. He had no right to toy with even the edge of the robe of the king God had put in place – the authority over him. In other words, even though Saul was filled with rage, anger, fury, hate and desired to kill David, God’s anointed, David was NOT to touch him….he was to respect the office and the person God had allowed to be King at the time.
The Bible says in I Samuel 24: 3-7:
3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave. 4 The men said, “This is the day the LORD spoke of when he said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hands for you to deal with as you wish.’ ” Then David crept up unnoticed and cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe. 6 He said to his men, “The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.” 7 With these words David rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way.
Of course, after reading this I became instantly aware that at the heart of my bad attitude toward the lobby guard was a problem with authority, a sister sin related to pride. I was not being respectful of an authority in my life – the lobby guard. It dawned on me at that moment that I had not respected him and that I was acting like a spoiled kid. I felt bad; like David, I knew I had sinned against someone God had put in authority over me. I confessed my sin to God. Now fast forward to 2000 to the Bush administration or even more recently to the new Obama administration.
- Did God allow these men to occupy the White House?
- Are we to agree with all their ideas?
- Are we to respect them and the office God has established?
We are to have at our core a deep respect for the structure and people God allows to rule in authority over us. Later in the Samuel verses David says to Saul (the man who was trying to KILL him) verse 10: I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’ (a vile murderous man is God’s anointed?)
Since hearing the stories in my book about authority, I have come to understand that the security guard has rule and authority in the area God has given him. I am under his authority, his leadership, when I am in his area – I am to respect him, even if I don’t like him for some personal reason.
Now, think about your boss your work, think about the assistant manager who seems like a buffoon some days, think about your teacher who thinks he or she is a hot-shot, think about the parent or adult that God has allowed to be in your life in some leadership role…or if you’re an adult think of the other adults that are in your life (post office workers, managers at a retail store, sports coaches, uhm…security guards, etc)
- Do you respect these people?
- Do you allow them to be in a position of authority in your life?
- Do you respect their role over you?
Now that I understand this issue of authority better and I realize I acted like a spoiled kid (pride/ego) when I go into the office building now, I have a completely different attitude. I smile when I enter the lobby, I speak directly to him, I ask him how his day is, I say thank you and I walk over the sign in book automatically.
When he asks me to sign in (yes, he still does), I say, “sure, how’s it going today?” He has started to talk to me as well. He recently talked to me for nearly 5 minutes about nationalized healthcare and illegal aliens! I respectfully listened to him, even though I could have justified rushing off to my meeting. ? The side effects of this authority principle are enormous:
- I am happier and have less stress in that lobby.
- I actually look forward to seeing the guard now. I wonder what God may want me to say to him.
- I am holding fewer silent grudges against other people.
- I can be a blessing to him. If he looks depressed I can say a cheerful word. If he is limping that day I can ask him how his leg is doing.
- I can give love instead of withholding it.
I am learning how to love people who don’t meet my unrealistic, rigid set of expectations. This is humbling. I am grateful that God is showing me this truth through a most unlikely person.
(NIV) Romans 13: 1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
P.S. I realize there are exceptions to this as when a leader asks you to disobey God (that discussion’s for another day).