When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master we worked hard all night and caught nothing! But at your word I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets started to tear. So they motioned to thier partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they were about to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For Peter and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s business partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” Luke 5:4-10
Heard an excellent sermon last Sunday on the subject of “Authority”. This passage brings many words pictures and images to our minds, doesn’t it? I see Jesus down at the lake with these “rough” fishermen – communicating with them in an open and easy way – that was both conversational and commanding. They respected Him. There was something different about Him. They had seen Him teaching the people – they had heard about Him. And now here He was – taking time with them! I can see Simon Peter listening intently to what He was asked to do – and then because he respected Him – he did it! Amazing. Just taking Jesus at His word – and doing it. He recognized the authority of Jesus in his life. That moment so changed Peter’s life – that the Bible says he left everything and followed Him.
What do you think of when you hear the word “authority”? Various pictures pop into your heads such as parents, teachers, pastors or other significant leaders or mentors that you’ve had in your life. There may have been times in your life when someone abused that authority and you now have a distorted view of anybody having authority in your life. And you may question everything.
I believe respect is earned and not bestowed. And I believe you cannot expect people to follow your leadership unless they respect you. It used to be that children were told to respect their elders or parents (anyone in authority over them) with no questions asked. But then several problems came about because authority was abused and fear became the motivator and not respect.
Today I believe that even when a child is in school there should be a careful balance between respect and questioning. As a teacher I am very aware of the fact that respect is earned – and if a student does not like me – or even fears me – I will not earn their respect and it will be more difficult to get them to do as I ask them – or to obey me. It used to be that children obeyed (feared) no matter what the personal consequences – because they didn’t question anything! How wrong that was on so many levels. And how easily that fear turned into loathing and stubborn silent refusal to yield on the inside. I also realize that children need to obey teachers and parents – but there is a way to motivate without fear and abuse. There is a way to be involved in a child’s life so that they know that you love and care about them – therefore earning their respect and love back.
Yes – we need authority in our lives. We all do. I believe that God places people in authority over our lives – and that He knows best for us. I’m just dumb enough to believe the Bible when it says that God sets up leaders in authority over us – and that means our president too – fancy that! I don’t have to like him – but I sure do have to respect his position because God himself said I have to – and I have a responsibility to pray for him too. Wow.
I’ve had situations where people have tried to “push” their authority on me – to try to manipulate a posture of submission out of me. And believe me – it was very difficult to sit and take it. But I did recognize that even though they went about it in the very worst way possible – at least for me – I still needed to respect them for their position, knowing that God himself had raised them up. Now it would have been better if they had “earned” my respect first – or had that kind of relationship with me – where they could speak those things into my life – but sadly that was not the case and it left me very confused and troubled. When people really know you and show you respect – then they earn a platform from which to speak into your life. And that’s the simple truth.
Who’s in charge? Ultimately God has to be the final word in my life and yours too. People are human – capable of many flaws and shortcomings. They can do much damage to us – especially those who are in “authority” over us – if it is abused – and if it is not respected. I think this is why so many of us “question” and don’t just take people at their word – even when they are in position over us to do so.
Who do you have in your life that says something to you that maybe you disagree with – but still you respond like Simon Peter did above, “But at your word, I will do it!”? (Holman paraphrase) If you are like me – not many. Trust is earned. Respect is also earned.
I am hoping and praying that as you are reading this you will be that kind of person/leader/motivator/encourager to others – to evoke a trust and respect so that you will have a platform from which to speak in someone’s life today.