Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had to deal with an authority figure who is unwelcome to input or suggestions?
Most people experience this at one time or another. It’s frustrating: the feeling that you are being listened to, but not heard. Sometimes, being rebuffed by those in authority causes us to gossip and become angry.
What can we do to control our emotions and actions in these circumstances?
Dr. Linda Mintle is an author and licensed marriage and family therapist. She writes frequently about all types of relationships — including our relationships with those in authority over us.
“What we have to look at is our heart attitude. If you look through the Bible, there are so many good kings and bad kings; good rulers and bad rulers. But through all of this, we have to remember that God allows these people to be in the positions where they are. Ultimately, there isn’t a leader who’s functioning today that God’s not allowing to lead. When you start to think about that, it really gives you a different way to respond.”
She says our culture has a lot to do with the way we tend to think about those in authority over us; we live in a culture where all ideas are equal, yet not all of us are in leadership positions. Dr. Mintle does agree that, in cases of moral impropriety, we do need to speak up and against those in authority. But most of the time, our thoughts towards and about authority are usually self-centered.
“Those [moral issues] are a little bit clearer. It’s these everyday issues where we just think ‘You know what, my boss is an idiot. I know better. I should be doing whatever it is I want to do.‘ That is the cultural seep that I think you’re talking about.”
So what do we do, in the moment, when our ideas and input are being tossed aside? She says it’s easy to get angry and start gossiping:
“That’s the human part of you. You want to just complain and…get allies for your position and tell everyone why you’re right and that person is going to be wrong. But that really isn’t a sign of respect for that person, especially when you’ve already given your ideas to that person.”
She says in those circumstances, what you need to do is simple, but not easy: be quite, give the situation to the Lord, and ask Him to help you recognize that He’s put the person in question in a position of leadership for a purpose.