The Proper Use of Authority
I worked in the field of Hospice care for 6 years and often brought my puppy along for my patients. It’s amazing the effect that a cute little puppy can have on people that spend their days drooling and staring at walls. My pup is a Lhasa Apso, a cross somewhere between a teddie-bear and an Ewok. The power of her innocent brown eyes staring up at you can evoke the uncontrollable need for hugs and snuggles from the gruffest soul.
Her favorite perch is my left leg while we drive from visit to visit. She incessantly takes in all the sights like a five year old kid on their first vacation. Her favorite distractions being motorcycles and other dogs.
Once, on our way home from a day of visits, she looked up at me with those intelligent little eyes, and I could tell it was her, “I love my daddy”, look. I was struck by her innocent trust. I am a rather big guy with broad shoulders and lots of muscle, which can make for a rather large footprint as I pass through the world. To those that are small and innocent, I can appear powerful and intimidating. But, instead of fear, my little puppy had love in her eyes.
Throughout my childhood, authority was typically associated with demandingness, abuse, and emotional sterility. But in my pups innocent trust, I had a profound change of perspective. Strength and authority can be used to protect, to comfort, and to lovingly discipline. Power need not be used for control, but it can instead be used for freeing and empowering the ones you love. Authority need not be abusive nor coercive, strength can protect innocence, power can be respectful, trust-worthy.
“Most have an incorrect understanding of authority, it’s not about power, so much as it is about service.” (1).
The proper use of authority should shield loved ones, and terrorize abusers. Like the Lion, Aslan, of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, terrifying majesty should defend and protect the vulnerable. Power is to be a terror to those that prey upon innocence, it is not for preying upon the innocent.
We need not fear power, nor despise authority, we need only be aware of the nature of the one who wields it. And in that, I suppose that some day, when I sit with God, looking up with my own vulnerable eyes, I will have learned to trust Him as much as my little puppy trusted me.
1. John Michael Talbot
2. Photo Credit, Ants Magazine, Pintrest