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Authority, Entitlement and Consequences

POSTED: April 21, 2017 10:33 a.m.

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted,” wrote St. Paul to the church in Rome (Romans 13:1-2a).

In other words, show respect for authority. That’s the way God has set things up for now. If we cannot be a good subject on earth, can we be in heaven? I don’t think that question gets past God either.

Sure, sometimes authorities are imperfect – or wrong, and we need to work through the process of making changes. That might even include peaceful protests.

However, it appears that we have created a generation of protestors – those who believe that any time something does not go their way they ought to have a march.

I can’t help but wonder if this zeitgeist, this general feeling among a new generation of young people, is tied in some way to a sense of entitlement. I think perhaps it is.

I have had many college graduates come to me, generally upset that they could not find a job. Yet, they have done nothing to really find one; no internship, no starter jobs, no genuine searching. It is as if they are saying, “I expect someone to just find me, and offer me a great job at a great salary just because I am as wonderful as I am.”

And when that doesn’t happen, they get disillusioned. After all, they are entitled.

One student on an internship wrote to a managerial advice columnist because he was so upset about what happened on the job.

His internship had a particular dress code, one he did not like. In fact, he had seen one particular woman wear shows that were not in accord with the dress code. Aha!

So, he pulled together some of his fellow interns and wrote up a petition for an alternate dress code. Remember, he is an intern!

This is what he wrote:

“The next day, all of us who signed the petition were called into a meeting where we thought our proposal would be discussed. Instead, we were informed that due to our ‘unprofessional’ behavior, we were being let go from our internships. We were told to hand in our ID badges and to gather our things and leave the property ASAP.”

“We were shocked. The proposal was written professionally like examples I have learned about in school, and our arguments were thought out and well-reasoned. We weren’t even given a chance to discuss it.”

“The worst part is that just before the meeting ended, one of the managers told us that the worker who was allowed to disobey the dress code was a former soldier who lost her leg and was therefore given permission to wear whatever kind of shoes she could walk in. You can’t even tell, and if we had known about this we would have factored it into our argument.”

I actually roared with laughter when I read that.

Now, I am trying hard to not be an old fuddy-duddy, “Kids these days!” But, aren’t we doing the younger generation a disservice when we suggest that pressuring authority should be expected and rewarded, that every petition or pet cause is valid? Because sometimes none of that is true.

In the case above, a company was doing these kids a favor by offering them an internship. And they disrespected the company’s authority. There are consequences to that.

The moral of the story for our younger generation: Work hard. Show respect. And let God make the call on whether you end up in authority or not.

For now, welcome to the real world.

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