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When you think of authority, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it your mother or father, your teacher or coach, or the cafeteria lady who acts like everybody's mom? Everyone has someone they recognize as an authority figure in their lives—someone who influences the way they think and act.

These relationships are priceless because they can make a significant impact. That's why it is important to keep them in the proper perspective when disagreements arise.

Can you remember the first time you and your parents or you and someone else in authority had a disagreement? Did you get angry and "talk back" to them? Although those in authority over you can upset you, it's never right to disrespect them.

Hebrews 13:17 says, "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you."

I remember a time when I disrespected my mother. When I was a child, she had a habit of making jokes out of my siblings' and my mistakes. One day she said something funny about my brother, and I began to laugh.

As I was laughing, my mother told a joke about me. Suddenly, everyone's focus shifted away from my brother to me. I was mad and embarrassed and decided that she wasn't going to get away with what she had said.

So I reversed the joke and made fun of her. I'm sure you can imagine how my mother disciplined me that day. Because I had disrespected her in front of my brother and sisters, I had indirectly influenced them to do the same.

Whenever you show a lack of respect toward those in authority over you, whether it is your parents, teachers or your boss, it paints a picture of your overall attitude. Those who are in authority over you are there for a reason. When you display a bad attitude by being disrespectful, it makes their jobs a lot harder and eventually causes problems in other areas of your life.

There will be times when authority figures will do something to cause you to lose respect for them. You might think that what they are doing is wrong, or they may say something that you simply don't agree with. At that time you must decide to walk in meekness, forgiveness and respect.

This may be a difficult task to accomplish, but because they are authority figures in your life, you must maintain a certain level of respect for them. It takes a very mature young person to walk in this type of love.

Remember, one day you will be in a position of authority and will want those who are submitted to you to respect you. Keep in mind, however, that respect is never automatically given-it must be earned.

The people who have the most influence and authority over your life are usually your parents. They have cared for you since you were a baby and are in the habit of making decisions for you without asking how you feel.

They will tell you what to eat, what clothes to wear and with whom you are allowed to associate. When you ask for permission to do something, many times they will simply tell you "No" without giving you an explanation. When you were younger, you may not have questioned their choices.

But as you mature and become your own person, you may begin to feel that your opinions and wishes are being ignored. The rules and choices they make may not seem fair, but they are done because they have your best interest in mind.

Parents see things from their perspective and often forget to take your opinions into consideration. As a result, you may not fully respect what they have to say. Even though you may have a valid point, you must obey the Word of God.

Parents walk in a great deal of wisdom—wisdom that may one day save your life. When they tell you to do or not to do something, their decisions are often based on one, or a combination of the following: (1) their past experiences, (2) out of concern for what might happen to you or (3) what they have heard from God.

If you want them to start respecting you and your choices, you must first show them the respect that they deserve and prove that you are maturing.

To become the captain of the football team, the manager of a restaurant or the owner of your own business, you must first learn to submit to another leader. Until you have learned to respect and honor those in authority over you, you will never be promoted to a leadership position yourself.

Romans 13:1-2 says, "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves."

Authority is an order set by God. One day you may become one of the great leaders of this world, but you must begin by respecting those in authority over you.

First published in the May 2003 issue of Changing Your World Magazine, © by Creflo Dollar Ministries. Reprinted by permission.

Author Biography

Creflo A. Dollar
Web site: World Changers Ministries
Creflo Dollar is the founder and senior pastor of World Changers Church International (WCCI) in College Park, Georgia; World Changers Church-New York; and a host of fellowship churches throughout the United States and internationally. WCCI also has offices in Australia (serving the Asia-Pacific region), South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and the Ukraine.

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