Authority, Not Superiority
I can’t remember when I began having the urge to lie. I’m sure it was very early, when I did not want to 'fess up to such crimes as knocking over the milk, accidentally letting the dog out, or leaving the front door open knowing the A/C was running (window units, mind you.)
I’m sure I answered rash allegations from my parents with eloquent phrases like, “I don’t know”, or, “It wasn’t me”. One of my best moves was playing it off with a smooth shoulder shrug to communicate to my Mom that I’m so above being accused, I’m not even going to use words…
The apples in my house haven’t fallen far from the tree. One of my children will spill something while I happen to be in the room. I hear the cup fall and turn to look. Then, even when there is no way out for them, I get “The cup spilled”. (On its own, of course…)
At first, their bigger lies would send me spinning. The pride of having my kids be one of those kids was too much. Needless to say, my reaction to my children’s sin has been ugly at times.
It’s in these ugly instances that God has graciously tapped my shoulder for humbling moments of clarity. As I’m yelling, “How many times do I have to tell you!”, God gently reminds me, “Chad, I could say the same to you…”
While my kids and I are sinners (lying is just one example), there is a difference between us – I recognize my need for God to save me from my sins daily. I’m further along in learning to lean on the Holy Spirit to “show me the way out when temptation comes.” I know what God thinks of lying because I know his Word. But my kids do not know his Word like I do. They have not fully developed a healthy fear of the Lord that brings wisdom.
If I, a grown man, still struggle with sin despite knowing the Word and leaning on the Holy Spirit, how much more should I focus on their hearts and deal with them how God deals with me? He is merciful, gracious, and just – ever working to purify my heart so that I may see him. (Matt. 5:8)
As Dads, we and our kids are in the same mess. Neither of us are good. We are sinners in need of saving. Jesus said, “There is no one good but the Father.” For this reason I cannot be superior to them. I do have the authority to “teach, rebuke, correct and train”, but I do not have the superiority to condemn.
Feelings of superiority may cause me to appear as one without sin. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and truth is not in us.” And remember Jesus’ words, “First remove the plank from your own eye.”
Superiority can be:
- corrosive and destructive, relationally
- degrading and devaluing, emotionally
When we recognize that we are not in this way superior to anyone – whether to our kids, our students, our players, or our youth group members – and realize we often share the same sins, we can then properly use our authority:
- to empathize
- to teach and correct
- to rebuild and restore
- to love
Most importantly, we can then use our authority to share the Gospel in teachable moments.
By Chad Foster
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