Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the wits of another. (Proverbs 27:17)
Another challenge in the book entitled, “The Art of Thinking Clearly,” is the challenge to not “Bow to Authority.” Rolf Dobelli shares, that in the last ten years, airlines have had to retrain their pilots to no longer bow to authority. “In the old days, the captain was king. His commands were not to be doubted. If a copilot suspected an oversight, he wouldn’t have dared to address it out of respect for -or fear of- his captain.” It didn’t take too many airline crashes with captain error to address this issue.
I am not fond of Dobelli’s heading, “Don’t Bow to Authority,” as if all authority should be removed. Without authority a society would be thrown into chaos. But with authority, there needs to be accountability and transparency. The issue in the Roman Catholic Church with priests who have committed sexual misconduct is a case in point. There was priestly authority, but no accountability when a priest broke the law, and little transparency to evaluate how the misconduct was addressed. Hence, the situation became worse, with even more coverups and further children being abused.
Authority should be given our respect and support, but only when the authority figures are subject to ongoing accountability and review. Further, the internal accountability and review should be transparent, so all can know and trust that issues are being faithfully addressed. Churches have issues with all forms of misconduct because Christian people want to trust others and provide support. This misguided understanding of Christianity has left the Christian Church vulnerable to sexual, financial, and other forms of misconduct.
In today’s society, it is important to affirm our leaders and their authority, but also make sure everyone in the institution is accountable and transparent. This is hard when church boards/sessions are made up of volunteers. A board or session is only as good as the committees they empower to represent them in their ministry. And volunteers have precious little time to give the institution. Today, pray for the authorities in our lives. For leaders in our political world, our Church leaders, and other authorities in our lives. Then, pray that they are subject to accountability and are willing to lead with transparency. If this is being done, authority figures will be able to fulfill their God-given call with integrity.