Authority vs. Knowledge

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When I was a kid, I thought that my parents knew how to get from place to place because they knew how to drive. Like once you had a driver’s license, all the maps of all the roads in the city magically downloaded into your head. Or maybe there was a secret to the way directions worked, like a formula you applied.

I thought that being authorized to operate a vehicle made you all knowing on matters of transportation.

Turns out, we just lived in the city where they’d grown up.

I was terrified when I realized I would be authorized to drive before knowing every single road in San Antonio. Two years later I moved to Los Angeles, and was even more terrified. Four years later I moved to London, where I knew I had no business even trying to drive. When I ultimately returned to San Antonio, and my car-dependent lifestyle, I was pleased to find that soon I could drive through the city with the same confidence I’d observed in my parents.

My authority to operate a car had nothing to do with my knowing how to get from point A to point B. In every new place I had to learn directions, street names, and landmarks anew.

After my church meltdown in 2012, I had to learn how to do a lot of things.

I had to learn how to pick a church, for one. I had to learn how to meet friends. How to describe my religious affiliation. Lots of new skills in this new world.

But the biggest challenge was just to make decisions. For all of my 28 years up until then, I’d run most major decisions up a flag pole, not of advisors, mentors, or friends, but authority figures. They didn’t offer advice or insight. They offered answers.

Just like I’d assumed the authority to drive imparted knowledge of directions, I assumed that authority figures had the right answers on all matters. Oh, they’ll tell you I had my own ideas, because I did. But having the ideas and trusting the spirit are two very different things.

The idea that the Spirit of God only spoke through authority left little use for my spirit. It could not sense unseen realities moving between me and the rest of the world. The spirit could not make sense of my desires or my ambitions. Because I believed it could not understand God, it left little for me.

So I was 28 when I finally had to learn how to listen to God for myself. How to let my spirit play a role in the decision making, not just my logical assent to the opinions of authority around me. I was 28 with the decision making skills of a child, and soon I would have children.

It would get very complicated. And I would write a book about it.

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