Authority Is Not a Bad Word

Let me guess. You can’t wait ’til your parents bug off and get out of your business. I felt the same way when I was your age.

But I didn’t realize then that this authority thing never ends:

  • You go to college, and you’re under your professors’ authority.
  • You get a job, and your boss tells you what to do.
  • You marry, and your husband leads you (Eph. 5:23–24).
  • There are traffic laws to obey and consequences if you don’t.

Since that fateful day centuries ago when Adam and Eve decided God couldn’t tell them what to do, we’ve all been bucking authority.

Authority is as much a part of life as sunlight or toasted wholegrain bread. That’s because God has all authority (the right to control and command), and He’s the One who established human authorities:

There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment (Rom. 13:1–2).

Anyone else less than happy about this whole authority idea? Of course you are. Since that fateful day centuries ago when Adam and Eve decided God couldn’t tell them what to do, we’ve all been bucking authority. Including me.

Months ago I was invited to speak at a Christian school’s Purity Week in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I forwarded the invitation to my work supervisors and waited and waited and waited. When I finally received their answer, I wasn’t pleased.

They were thrilled for me to go, but they didn’t want me to travel by myself. This wasn’t easy to hear for a “big girl” like me who can take care of herself just fine, thank you very much.

I appealed, explaining that my hosts would pick me up at the airport, but my employers stuck to their guns.

It looked like I might not be able to go to Brazil. My hosts said they could only pay for an additional ticket if I could find another speaker.

I tried. No one could come.

Until one day I thought of a perfect fit. After several days of prayer, this speaker agreed to travel with me.

With God at the helm, authority is just another layer of His providence and protection.

And then, finally, it all made beautiful sense. God had worked through my authorities in order to send not only me, but another Spirit-filled speaker to Brazil. As a result, His kingdom work was at least doubled—maybe more.

And in the process, I was reminded of an important lesson: Authority is not something to be bucked; authority is not a bad word. With God at the helm, authority is just another layer of His providence and protection. In fact, He works out all His purposes through authorities.

How about you? Are you bucking authority, or do you trust God enough to submit to the authorities He has placed over you at this time in your life? How can you actively choose to submit to your authorities today?

About Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her son, Iren, and writing for Revive Our Hearts. She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in New York. You can catch all her writing on PaulaWrites.com.

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  • Elizabeth Williams

    I see people all the time who are like “I can’t wait to move out and be able to do whatever I want.” But you are ALWAYS going to have somebody to answer to. Even if not you’re boss, teacher, or whoever, than always to God

  • Wanting Help

    I totally agree with the post! But there is something that’s troubling me: I know that a husband has authority over his wife, but does that mean that all men have authority over all women? Lately I have really been wondering what a woman’s role is in society, and if men are more valuable? Please help

    • A

      I have struggled with this problem myself dear. Often times people have taken God’s Word to mean just that. But the devil is a liar. Men are not more valuable then women. God loves his men children just as much as He loves his women children. Although society may try to present God’s Word that way and promote the idea that women are lesser than, I promise you that we are not. I will pray for you and I encourage you to continue to pray on this as well. I urge you to pray on this earnestly because it can negatively impact your relationship with God. It confused me and made me bitter. But God revealed Himself to me and made me understand that He loves me and cherishes me and that I am not lesser than men. God made you for His purposes first and foremost. While women have a certain role in play in marriage that does not mean that God made us deficient in any respects. Remember God made us all and He put bits of Himself in each and every single one of us from our emotions to our intelligence to our strength, and no aspect of God is inferior.

      *internet hugs*

      • A

        *God made you for his purposes and desires that you give Him all of yourself and you worship Him alone that same way He does for men.

    • phendricks

      Dear Wanting Help,

      Great questions! No, men are not more valuable than women. Gen. 1:27 tells us that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” He created men and women equal, but with different roles. You see this in the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all equal, but they have different roles. The Son submits to the Father, even though they are both God.

      Yes, a husband is called to lead and cherish his wife as Christ loves the church, and a wife is told to respect and submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ, but that does not mean that all men have authority over all women.

      I’d encourage you to check out the True Woman 101 study for more answers on this whole topic. Maybe you could even go through it with an older woman! You can check it out on TrueWoman101.com.



  • Nina Reis

    I loved your post! I am struggling with understanding authority lately. I live with my aunt in the US and my parents in Brazil. Sometimes I struggle to understand who I should obey because they say opposite things. The lady that is my mentor at church sometimes gives me advice different from my mother’s eel confuse when my father and my mother disagree. Who should I obey? How does my parents authority look like after I get married? Do men at church have a different authority than women? I know that the ultimate authority is Christ. The problem is when the decision is just a”right or left”and not “right or wrong” type of decision.

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      Nina, you’re asking great questions! These posts/broadcasts will be helpful in understanding some of your questions related to authority and submission:

      1. Mary Kassian’s post, How Adult Children Can Honor and Obey (http://tinyurl.com/o9v2omm), addresses the differences
      between obeying our parents as children and honoring them as adults.

      2. Nancy DeMoss addresses, What Submission Does and Does Not Mean in this broadcast/transcript from Revive Our Hearts (http://tinyurl.com/mp39b8o) and Confident, Strong, and Submissive (http://tinyurl.com/nun9ezh)

      3. Mary Kassian’s post, 7 Misconceptions about Submission (http://tinyurl.com/ll72uwl).

      The bottom line, as you mentioned, is always the Word of God. As a child (teen) we are under the authority/guidance of our parents. As we enter into adulthood we begin a
      transition that Mary Kassian describes in the link I provided for you.

      Though you’ve not mentioned your age, Nina Reis, if you’re an adult woman you may be experiencing a bit of the angst that comes as we learn to consider the counsel of our parents and other godly people in our lives, but must ultimately choose “the
      left or the right” based upon the Word of God and the leading of His Spirit.

      Let me know if you have additional questions after reading these articles, friend.

      Grace and peace,

  • #Sweet thing

    This is a whole new idea for me. For a while now authority has bothered me in a way that seemed offensive. Definitely cleared the air. Thanks Paula!

    • phendricks

      I’m so glad, #Sweet thing!

  • Laura Bedoya

    For months the word “authority” has bothered me. I feel as if I am starting to gain independence but I am trapped under my parents rules, teachers, coaches ect. the reality is that I am not. Thank you so much for this it’s been a long time that I have been praying about this situation and He has finally answered my prayers. He is one Faithful King!

    • phendricks

      I’m with you, Laura! Renew our thinking about authority, God.

  • My daughter (Samantha, 14, 8th grade, homeschooled) if she resists my authority, she gets spanked on her bare buttocks 10 times. I want to teach her that God has the authority above your life. I belive you should control you daughter with strict control.

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      The behavior you’ve described is inappropriate, dishonoring, and, does not
      align with the Word of God.