I’ll never forget that day. My supervisor told me to trim a shrub in a specific way. But I knew a better way. So I reasoned. If my way is better, why shouldn’t I do it that way? So that’s the way I did it.
His reaction was predictable. He looked at the shrub, and then looked at me and – well; he got angry, very angry. His words penetrated to the crux of the problem: “Why didn’t you follow instructions? Why didn’t you do what I said?”
But did I admit my error? No, I kept justifying myself, reasoning. I know my way was better, so why should he get so upset?
Grudgingly, I accepted his irate correction, but it wasn’t until years later that I really learned the lesson: You can be wrong when you are right.
To me, it seemed it was a matter of who had the best method, not who was the boss. What I had failed to realize was the overriding importance of obeying authority. I only saw that I had the best way to trim the shrub. So I angered my superior, destroyed his trust in me, and made myself miserable.
Since then I’ve learned what God says about obeying authority. I’ve read scriptures like Ecclesiastes 8:4-5: “Where the word of the king is, there is power; and who may say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ He who keeps his command will experience nothing harmful.” See also Ephesians 5:23-24, 6:1, 5, “Romans 13:1-7, Hebrews 13:17.
What a difference it makes to realize that you don’t have to do what you feel is right to be right. Instead, you simply do what you are told. Granted, there may be occasions when you have to obey a higher authority than the immediate authority over you. You should not obey someone, for instance, if doing so would cause you to disobey God (Acts 5:29).
But in most cases it is a matter of giving up your will to serve someone else’s will. When you do that, it brings great joy to that person: “Like the cold of snow in time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters” (Prov. 25:13). It also brings joy to you! “A faithful man will abound with blessings” (Prov. 28:20).
Your blessings come from eliminating strife and from seeing the one over you respond positively to your submission. In many cases, job situations, for example, a superior will reward you with greater responsibility, a willingness to listen to your ideas and it may bring higher pay. Bosses like to be respected and obeyed!
As I look back at that incident, instead of desiring to do it my way, to the point of disobedience, I should have politely made my suggestions and then willingly, without complaint, accepted my boss’s decision. In doing so, I would have been more tolerant of his approach, realizing there are many ways to do a job, instead of maintaining a negative attitude toward him.
Also, I should have placed the responsibility for the results of the method used where it belonged – on him, not me.
What about you? Can you see that it is wrong to do what seems right when the one over you disagrees? Can you submit to authority? Or does your carnal self get in the way?
Ponder these words: “Servants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ: not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Eph. 6:5-7).
Yes, in relating to those in authority, practice the way of God – the way that liberates you from strife and blesses you with harmony and happiness.