• Johan

Proud men .... respect AUTHORITY

Ah ! .........Authority, something most men have some problem with at some stage of their lives. Maybe more so when we were young lions trying to show the leader that it is time for us to take over pack, than a later on in our lives. But still, nothing can turn up our revolutions like the actions of people that have authority over us. It seems to be something that just comes over us all and follows us wherever we go.

To understand this problem, lets just consider one normal day in most men's lives. We wake up to the authority of the alarm, start dressing in clothes demanded by the authority of our work, we drive to drop off the children at school and have to submit to the authority of the road signs and laws, we enter the school yard and have to accept the Headmaster's authority in terms of dropping off rules, pay toll on the freeway due tot the authority of the Government, park at work within the indicated parking spaces as per the Parking Garage Manager's rules, walk into office in time as per the Boss's authority and sit down to work as required by the rules that govern our work. At least when we are supervisors, we get to push those below us around a bit based on the authority we have over them, just to make them feel what we have to take all day. Meanwhile forgetting that they have also have all the other issues we have AND they have us as their supervisors!

But its not done yet. We get up at the end of the working day, which is determined by the Boss's rules, pay for parking ala the Parking Garage's authority (not to let us out until that is done), drive on the freeway following the Government road laws and rules, we are stopped in a Police blockade and have to wait for long minutes before we can drive on because they have the authority to stop us, we follow the directions of the e-toll laws (again) on our way home just to walk into our homes and hear that the School Teacher said that the report on South African Laws must be in tomorrow and we, as the know-it-all fathers must help with that tonight, meaning that we have to also submit to the authority that Teachers have over our children! And of course, how can we forget some of the responsibilities that comes with the authority of being the man of the house, the shower head is leaking, the ants are taking over the garage and there is a rat in the roof that must be found tonight!

When we finally sit down and switch on the TV to watch news and hear that we must now also submit to the President and stay in lockdown for 40+ days, we crack up and loudly indicate our displeasure with this man!

Who can blame us if we then rebel against all this authority and start going into attack mode against Teachers, Headmasters, the Boss, The Government, The Police, e-toll, unnecessary roads rules, etc ?

What does this all have to do with the promotion of behaviour by men that would make us proud to be men?

Well, its actually very simple. If you as father and husband would like to have the respect of others, of woman and children, you have to show respect to others. Even if things do not go your way and even if its feel as if that is all you do .......all .......day ........long.

As soon as you hold onto the right to decide who and when you will show respect, you must offer everybody else the same right. If us men disrespect those placed in authority above them, independent of who it is or how tired we are, we indicate to our sons that it is acceptable to show disrespect when we have had enough and we disagree with whomever carries the authority.

And that means that we are showing them that it is acceptable for them to show us disrespect as and when they disagree with us. I am sure most fathers would quickly suggest that this type of behaviour by their sons is not acceptable. Well, then it is up to us to teach them that disrespect is not allowed, especially if there is disagreement. And, as it should be, when one claims to teach others, it is critical to be consistent in what we say and teach and live out.

Are we consistent in the way we handle respect?

Do we expect respect from those we have authority over even if they disagree with us?

Do we then live by those same rules and show respect to those placed over us, if we disagree with them?

I can not answer for each of you, but over several years I have observed an increased tendency for men in our country to ignore the authority of laws, purely because they do not agree with them. Stop signs at crossings are ignored, red traffic lights have little purpose, speed limits are viewed as suggestions only, teachers are wrong, when the Police act they use too much force and if they do not act, its because they are incompetent, men bribe officials and then call THEM unethical, refuse their responsibility to pay the tax they should and defend this by saying that the Government is taking too much already. I can go on with this list !

During this lockdown I have seen men ignore the laws set out to protect us all, people losing tempers because they are not allowed to do what they want. I have seen and heard people react to messages being sent around even after we have been told to be careful of fake messages. Why? Because we have fell into a habit of believing anything bad and the lie that we have the right to show disrespect when we do not agree with things. Then we contribute by spreading the news even further, making sure everybody can see its downright stupid of those placed in positions of authority.

I have a surprise for us all: It does not really matter what we think about any person in a position of authority or how we view their competence. As soon as we show any disrespect because we disagree, we open the door to a complete breakdown of respect in our society.

The way you and I approach the authority of laws set by our Government forms the foundation for our sons, the men of tomorrow, to decide how they will handle authority. Yes, even how they will handle our authority in our houses ! Do not be surprised when they ignore our house rules, following our examples of breaking the rules set by the leaders in our country because we disagree with them.

Come on you say, is this really an issue?

Well, can you imagine the confusion on a rugby field when the Captain decides to run with the ball off a penalty, but a large portion of the team remains standing still because they believe the decision is incorrect and the ball should be kicked into touch? In sport we are happy to accept that the team must follow the Captain's decision so that the team can win the game. Later, after the game, the whole team (Captain and Coach included) will revisit critical decisions and discuss the good and the bad ones. This discussion is not behind the Captain's back, he is not made the laughing stock, but it is open and honest and direct and is aimed at building the Captain and the team. And then, as soon as the team gets onto the field again ..... they follow the leader.

I can hear you say: "If I do not agree with Government, I do not agree ! "

Well, whether you like it or not, all people living in this country are part of the South African team. For us to succeed, we have to succeed together and it is then important to function as a team, to follow the leader, to accept the authority of his position and do as he asks. Yes, we may discuss the decisions with him, but then not behind his back, not at his expense and not in disrespect just because I disagree !

Where does this crazy notion of respect originate from?

In the Bible, Romans 13: 1 - 2 states that God requires that everyone obey state authorities, because no authority exists without God's permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God. 

God, in whom all authority in the universe lies, states that He will give this authority to whomever He wants. If He puts people in positions of power or authority to rule a country, that is His decision and we should honour that. We should thus accept that the leaders were placed there by God and it is not for me to belittle the person or ignore his authority.

This is enough reason to accept the fact that (whether we like it or not, agree with them or not, voted for another party or not) once God has put a Government in place, we should honour the fact that God gave them the authority, and must obey them. (Please note that we believe that the only time we are allowed to disobey them is when they are acting in direct contrast to God's rules. This is another topic though).

To fully accept this stand, one has to believe that God is in control and that the appointed Government will fall into His plan for us. For Christian men, this should be easier to accept, but if you are not a Christian, I understand your doubt. Lets try the following then to make this clear.

Many of us are, or have been in positions of authority. Many of us were Captains of teams and Student Representatives or just took some form of leadership role somewhere in your past. Whatever the position you filled or are filling, you will be familiar with the fact that the authority lies in the position held and not in the person. You will note that we did not quote any names in the paragraphs above where we explained the authorities we are subjected to daily. Yet you understood very clearly what we were saying. So the person is not the one being honoured, its the position the person fills that is honoured and therefor the person is respected for the position he / she holds.

When the Captain of a rugby team is replaced with another, decisions made on the field are now taken by the new Captain, who has been given the authority to make those decisions by the Coach or Selection Board. The team, and the old Captain, then support and follow this new incumbent to the benefit of the whole team.

This concept seems to be acceptable in sport !

What about in the work environment? When a new boss arrives and makes decisions, it is often not liked, yet it is accepted. Why ? Well, the person was promoted or signed on by the Board of Directors, or the Owner, and they gave the new boss the authority to make those decisions. The personnel then support this new leader to the benefit of the company.

This concept also seems to be acceptable when it comes to work.

However, for some reason, when it comes to the authority of positions such as President of South Africa or Provincial Premier or Minister or Major or Town Council or Policeman or Teacher or Pastor, we seem to forget the principle of accepting the authority of the position held. What we rather do is focus on the person to prove why we do not need to submit.

We (and I generalise !) start to do the following:

  • Whether he is President or not, we call him by his name and jokingly (or in earnest ?) talk about him to all who will listen, trying our best to make him look foolish ?

  • We continuously and openly give negative opinions of the person's abilities and actions.

  • We joke with them, make them the laughing stock of our country / town. Mistakes are talked about and hung out for all to see.

  • We ignore the calls made by this person to work together, stand together, support each other, simply because we do not agree with them on many other things.

Why would this be acceptable? How would the teams or businesses perform if team or staff members behaved in this way towards the Captain or Boss? Surely we all know that if a team is split into different factions, it will not win, it will not succeed. Are we then surprised that a country is struggling to succeed?

The only way to teach respect for authority is to live it, to show it and to say it.

Do not accept anything that breaks down this authority.

Lets say positive things, concentrate on that which is good and use the correct channels to convey disagreements.

Bottom line, until the coach changes the Captain, or an election changes the President, your job as a man is to respect the position of the President, and therefore the incumbent, respect the Teacher, respect the Policeman, the Nurse, the Pastor, the Traffic Cop just because it is the right thing to respect the position of authority.

Come on, show your sons that authority should be accepted, follow the rules, adhere to the laws, live an example of a law abiding citizen of this country. Mark my words, once we do this, and expect this behaviour of other men, we will all not only also receive respect, but also enjoy the success of the whole team.

How can I know this?

Because God honours those who do the things He asks, and respecting authority is one of them !