Saturday, 16 June 2012

Authority or responsibility

Authority is closely connected to responsibility. Many are familiar with the idea that those who have authority are responsible for the outcome. They take the rap for the outcome, and also the glory. Some modernists would wish to disassociate these. All authority and no responsibility. This just allows us to feed our pride without needing to consider or reap the consequences of our actions.

I think it is helpful to think of the situation in the reverse. What we have responsibility for we need authority for. People are given responsibilities for persons and property, and if we are to realise good outcomes we need the authority to action things.

This places the focus back on duty and not power. The parent, the politician, the manager are responsible for people or property placed under their care. They are seeking raise godly children, or manage interactions between citizens, or develop skilled workers and maximise productivity. Thus the focus is on the responsibility. Authority is required to do this well. But the obedience of the children isn't arbitrary (though it may seem so to them), it is because there is real authority, and the real authority is there because the father has been given the responsibility by God to raise up godly children.

People still make their own choices, and outcomes are not guaranteed, or determined; nevertheless, the job is nigh impossible without authority.

When we are under authority we should behave appropriately: respect, honour and usually obedience. This is important because such people will be held accountable for their actions. When we have authority we are to use it based on the realisation that we will be held accountable for those under our authority.

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