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Mar 06
2017

Understand Authority

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

Most of us work for an organization we do not own. It is important to understand and embrace the authority structure under which we find employment. Scripture shares an example of a person who clearly understood the concept of authority:

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (Matthew 8:8-9 NIV)

 

The centurion understood that Jesus had ultimate authority.  He also understood that while he was under someone else’s authority, he also had authority over others.  It is an important principle to keep in mind. Consider these questions as you think about the authority structure where you work.

1.  Who is in charge?

This should be the person or persons who make most or all key decisions.  Especially when you operate under the authority of a manager, understand whether or not that manager has the authority to make decisions that affect work in your situation.

In the businesses that I have owned, I was very clear a about being 100% in charge. I left no room for misunderstanding. If I had a manager who considered themselves 100% in charge, it was not a good fit.

2.  To whom do you report?

You may think it’s the person on the line above your name on the organizational chart, but this may not be totally accurate. I’ve seen cases where a manager micromanages, but you are still required to report to the person above the manager. In the corporate structure you need to understand who has the ability to approve raises or decide your discharge. Don’t ignore their authority.

3.  What are the organizational rules?

Every organization has rules, and ignorance is not bliss.  At one point in my career, I reported to a person raised on a dairy farm. He was accustomed to getting between 3 and 3:30 in the morning to milk cows. He arrived at 6 am, and anyone coming in much past seven was considered late. The unwritten rule was that the work day started at 7 am. You can argue whether this was reasonable or unreasonable, fair or unfair; but it was the organizational rule.

In scripture we see how obedience to the Lord brings blessing (see Deuteronomy 11:26-32).  In our workplace we need to understand what we receive when we obey the instructions and rules of our employer as well as understand the sanctions that will occur when we do not.
In my corporate job I was required to submit a report that was time-consuming which I believed offered little value. When I started turning the report in late, nothing happened.  When I didn’t turn it at all, still nothing happened. Then, I simply ignored the request. On the other hand, I had a quarterly report due for one of our largest customers. They were very clear that the report needed to be complete and on time. I faithfully complied with their request.   

When you understand and apply the answer to these key questions, you increase your effectiveness and your employment will go better.


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