The Give And Take Of Authority And Trust

Brandon talks a lot about how the podcasts help him work through things, but this week, he let me do it instead. I’ve never been someone who particularly struggles with authority, but the last couple of years have brought a lot of things into focus for me in terms of just how I get along with the people in those positions over me.

All the way back into childhood, I’ve always been a people pleaser. I wanted my teachers to like me, I wanted every adult I met to talk about what a good kid I was. This continued into adolescence and adulthood. I grew up blessed to have parents and adults around who demonstrated that people who were put in leadership and authority over me could be trusted, so it was pretty natural and normal to me to give the benefit of the doubt to the new ones who came along. I never blindly did what I was told, but if I didn’t have a strong reason for countering them, then I’d adapt and do whatever needed doing.

Now, though, I’m the adult in the room. I’ve been teaching for 7 years now, and it’s been made perfectly clear that not all of my students come from the same experiences. Not all of them have had authority demonstrated properly. They are often starting not from a place of trust, but doubt. The reality is that, in order for authority to really function, there has to be a level of trust established. Especially as a theology teacher, the students are very used to being told to believe what I’ve told them because I said so. As a result, I have to spend a huge portion of the first month of school demonstrating that I really mean it when I say that I want their questions and participation.

This is what real authority is. A process of leading others, not by dragging, shouting, or force, but by building a relationship of trust and cooperation to bring each other closer to heaven.

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