reacting to authority

I read an article from Desiring God this morning by Stacy Reaoch, sited below. It’s about submission in marriage and the role that should play when a couple disagrees about an important decision. I’ve been there. Submission to my husband didn’t come naturally or easily in our marriage. It took about 3 years for me to wrap my head around the idea and what it was supposed to look like. Now, 4 1/2 years later I’m working at it…and I need God’s grace everyday.

What struck me about this article was the application it can have on our current political situation. We have a presidential election coming up next month and I, like probably a lot of Christian Americans, don’t want to vote for either party’s candidate. I just heard on Moody Radio that the American Psychological Association is now addressing what is called “Election Stress Disorder” since 52% of all voters (OVER HALF!) are experiencing elevated stress over the up coming election this year.

My first thought was, here they go again naming another CAUSE of stress a “disorder” so that sufferers can feel that their anxiety is normal giving them another excuse to pop a pill or seek medical attention when really what they need is to put their HOPE and TRUST in Christ who says in his word to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” Proverbs 3:5-6. I don’t know whether the stress over the election for most people comes from having to choose the lesser of two evils, like mine does, or if it’s that we have way more access to conflicting information due to social media. Whatever the case tension is high this election season.

Unless God intervenes in a miraculous way in the election for President of the United States, I’m not going to like our next leader. The God of the universe could take control of our election process if he wanted to. It’s not beyond his ability, but I’m betting he’s going to let the process run it’s course and I’m betting the inauguration of our next leader will leave a bitter taste in my mouth. But I’m also betting that the Lord won’t be surprised at the outcome, that he won’t be worried, that it’s all part of his plan. So how will I deal with this stressful season and unavoidable and undesirable new authority? Stacy’s article about submission in marriage has some great ideas…


The Ultimate Authority

The ultimate question really is not, “Can I trust the person in authority over me,” but, “Am I trusting that God is leading this person to lead me?” Yes, people are fallible, but God is infallible. He never makes mistakes. He establishes rulers and kingdoms. He is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega. And he has put those bosses, elders, parents and husbands in the positions of authority they are in. Nothing takes him by surprise. And he can be trusted. 

When I am whining and complaining to others about a “bad” decision someone in authority over me made, I am really whining and complaining about God. I’m not trusting God’s ordained leadership, and telling him that I have a better plan. And God does not take that lightly. “Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13:2).

How we respond to difficult decisions made by the leadership over us is a test of Christian maturity. We can choose to humbly submit or make a respectful appeal, or we can choose to grumble, gossip, and slander the very leaders God has sovereignly placed in our lives. 

Here are a few ways to move toward keeping a God-centered perspective on submission to authorities in our lives.

1) Recognize God’s authority structure as revealed in Scripture.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1)

2. Pray for the leaders God has placed over you.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Timothy 2:1–2)

3. Repent of any grumbling in your own heart.

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” (Philippians 2:14)


Not only do I need to recognize that the governing authorities, just like my husband’s authority, was place over me by GOD, I need to PRAY for that authority. I don’t have to like the next President but I need to quit complaining about it.

WOW. That was convicting. When my Facebook feed is full blatant criticism and rants about this candidate or that candidate I’m supposed to be submitting, praying, and not complaining??? I guess the Lord wasn’t kidding when He said we are to look different than the world. I don’t think that means we shouldn’t have opinions or shouldn’t be discerning, we’re called to engage in the world as Christians. But what that looks like must be different.

Set apart. 

I’m reminded of the story in 1 Samuel 8 when the Israelites asked the Judge and Prophet Samuel for a king to reign over them, like the neighboring peoples had. The governmental structure of a kingdom wasn’t in itself sinful, but the Israelites motivation for wanting one was. They wanted to be more like the world around them instead of clearly set apart as God’s people. Samuel wasn’t pleased, he felt personally rejected (he was an authority is God’s governing structure as a judge) and annoyed. But he sought the Lord. God wasn’t pleased, he WAS being rejected. He may have felt annoyed that his people wanted a man as king instead of him alone, but he wasn’t worried.  In fact he had foreseen this day and made his perfect plans of sending a Savior through the line of King David come about by way of the Israelites selfish demand for a king. Deuteronomy 17:14-20, written by Moses which took place generations before the time of Samuel, gave specific instructions to God’s people for WHEN they would insist on having a king. God knew his people would choose their own way and he used even the Israelites sin for his glory.

This tells me that once again there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The United States in now in a less than ideal political situation, just like the Israelites were when they demanded an authority other than God’s alone. But just like in the Old Testament, I think God is going to somehow use our situation for his glory, and for his ultimate plan. Because the circumstances might have changed, the presidential candidates today might look different than the Israelite judges and kings, the issues today might be unique to the 21st century, but God is still God. He is still on his throne and he is still carrying out the plan he had for the world since its foundation.

*sigh of relief*

So when I feel a bout of “Election Stress Disorder” coming on, instead of giving in to the panic I feel over who our next president will be or opening my mouth to complain about it, I will choose to recognize that God has allowed this current authority structure. I will choose to PRAY and not to complain. And I will choose to blare this song through my speakers in hopes that its lyrics will reverberate into my soul:

“Through it all, through it all

My eyes are on You

Through it all, through it all

It is well.

So let go my soul and trust in Him

The waves and wind still know His name

It is well with my soul.”

I choose all these things because GOD is my ultimate authority.