Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Control vs Obedience - being in and under authority

If you are in a position of authority, how do you use it?

The following scenarios are a little test to see how often you use different levels of control when dealing with people under your authority.
We will call this person under your authority Timmy. Timmy may be your 5 your old son, your little brother, an apprentice builder or one of your employees.

Think about the following situations.

Situation 1:  
Timmy has dropped a cup and broken glass is all over the floor. You have some mutual friends coming over soon and the glass needs to be cleaned up as quickly as possible.

You are most likely to:
a) invite Timmy to help you as you start cleaning up yourself
b) advise Timmy that it will be faster if you work together and suggest they really should help, but leave it up to them
c) instruct Timmy in a matter of fact voice that the glass needs to be picked up and they have a responsibility to deal with it themselves
d) command Timmy to pick the glass up themselves and use whatever means necessary to enforce your command

Situation 2: 
Timmy has stormed out of the building in blind anger and is heading for the road. If he takes two more steps he will be hit by a car.

You are most likely to:
a) invite Timmy to join you for a cup of tea back inside
b) advise Timmy that he should stop walking or he will be hit by a car
c) instruct Timmy in a matter of fact voice that he will be hit by a car unless he stops
d) command Timmy at the top of your lungs to stop and use whatever means necessary to enforce your command

You may respond to Situation 1 in any of the manners given above. However, the more you use stronger levels of control, the less impact they will have when they are really necessary. If Timmy only ever heard you invite and advise, he would be more likely to comprehend the urgency in your voice if your commanded him to stop.

Examples from real life: 
Uses words like "Can", "possibly" and "please". These are friendly, casual and give the person a chance to say no.

"Can you play with me?"
"Can you please water the garden if you get the chance?"

Uses words like "should", "might" and "will". These are more respectful than friendly but still give the person a chance to say no.

"You should put sunscreen on or you will get sunburnt"
"You had better stop fighting or someone might get hurt"

Stated as a fact rather than a question. These are stated as an expectation but still give the person a chance to ask questions.

"It's time for bed"
"Put the milk in the fridge or it will go off"

Uses words like "always", "never" and "now". These are not just an expectation but a requirement and do not give the person a chance to say no. Often a severe consequence will follow.

"Always stop at a red light"
"Put that knife down right now!"

This also applies when we read the Bible. Think about whether what you are reading is an invitation, advice, an instruction or a commandment. When we realise the difference it is amazing how much more urgent we realise these things are.

Examples from the Bible: 
Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. (Genesis 1:29 NLT)

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NLT)

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NLT)

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. (John 15:12 NLT)

Challenge for the week: 
During the course of this week as you interact with people under your authority, check your language. Are you saying please? Are you saying could, should or must? What do you expect when you give instructions? What choices are you offering? What are the consequences of disobedience?

Also, how are you responding to people in authority over you? Are you considering invitations, listening to advice, following instructions and obeying commands? I'll try if you'll try with me!
God bless x

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