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Learn how to deal with the powers above you

As a young person you will typically start at the bottom of the heap. That is, you will have people above you, who will have authority over you, and whose commands you will have to obey. These people are the powers above you.

These people are typically your parents, your teachers and professors, and later, when you have a job, your bosses.

How you deal with such people will make a lot of difference in where you end up. It is because these people have power over you – power given to them by God.

I didn’t learn this lesson too well, and I hope you will learn from my mistakes. Let me tell you a story about myself to illustrate the point…

I graduated from a top notch university with a Ph.D. in the areas of software quality. That is, I was an expert in how to write software with very few bugs, and how to test software for bugs. I was an authority in the area to the extent that I could write a book on the topic.

Due to my expertise I got a job and a top notch company, and there I was assigned to test critical software that the company used for manufacturing.

Now the guy who was put in charge of the test lab in which I had to work was not an expert in the area of software testing. I knew a lot more than him about software testing and I quickly saw that his decisions and his methods were inferior. I was the expert, not he.

But he had the authority and the power, not me. And my critical error was that I didn’t know how to deal with people who were in authority when they didn’t deserve to be in authority.

I should have approached him like this, "Sir, you are in charge of such an important task, and I am so glad that I have been assigned to assist you in your job. I want to learn everything I can from you, and I hope my academic background is sufficient qualification to allow me to work as your assistant. If I have a few ideas now and then, may I be permitted to pass them by you?"

Instead, I approached him like this, "You are a bumbling idiot. You don’t have a clue as to what you are doing. The guy who put you in charge is also an idiot because he put you in charge instead of putting me in charge. You should not make any decisions without consulting me, or better still, just let me make all the decisions for you."

I didn’t use those actual words, but my tone and attitude conveyed that sentiment. I contradicted his decisions in public, and showed that mine were superior, and that he was an ignoramus. And in doing that I made him my enemy.

Needless to say, he didn’t like my approach at all. And he used his power to make my life miserable, and he gave me a bad name among his peers. As a result, instead of me being the next manager of that lab, I had to wait for two more managers to come and go.

So here is the lesson: the people above you are often not more knowledgeable than you in some things. They might make mistakes that you would never make, even in your sleep. But do not despise them or mock them or expose their stupidity. Instead, give them the deepest respect, recognizing that God has put them in authority over you, and when you show insolence towards them you are essentially saying that God didn’t do His job correctly in setting them in authority over you.

Jesus, the epitome of perfection, submitted to the inferior authority of his parents!

Joseph and Daniel, men of God who had great wisdom, are also good examples of how to interact with people of power. Note the gracious and generous tone in which they spoke to heathen kings who were in authority over them, even though they were far superior than those kings in spiritual things.

You and I would do well to learn from them and apply what we learnt to our interaction with those whom God has put in power over us.

The apostle Paul, who must have also learnt this, said it this way:

Rom 13:1-2 1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

Copyright (c) 2007-2026, Rosario (Ross) D'Souza. All Rights Reserved
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