If you were to define respect for authority by using each letter in the word “respect,” what words would you use? What about Revere; Eliminates problems; Safety; Provides protection; Everyone abides; Conform; Test of faith. You can think of a host of words which would describe what respect for authority means. Why can we not live in a world where everyone learns to live the right way? Why do people do the wrong thing and not the right thing? When will people start understanding respect for someone in charge?
The first place to begin is by reading and learning what God says about respecting authority. Respect God and His word first. Find out what God says and how much importance He places on your willingness and your attitude about it. Demonstrate in your life how you can come under authority without complaining, pouting, or making excuses. God is always going to be in charge! If you read the last five chapters of the book of Job, Job clearly saw who controls all things whether the circumstances are good or bad.
Pray for those in authority over you. Far too many people are full of harsh criticism for how bad the economy is or why someone does not stop violence on the streets or when someone will end the sale of illegal drugs. Ask God to guide these people as they fulfill their tasks. Pray their hearts would seek God as they make decisions. Ask God to help you respect those who are in authority over you. Be a blessing of obedience to those in authority. Help them do their jobs well. Anger and criticism toward authority never makes the circumstances better. It only makes things worse.
Set the example for the people around you. Show them what submitting to authority for the right reason looks like. Do not participate in backbiting, gossiping, or criticizing those in authority. Withhold your opinions. Stop becoming disrespectful. Give honor to the position one holds whether the person in the position deserves it or not. There were probably few times int he days of the first century where the Roman kings deserved admiration. In spite of their conduct, Peter instructed Christians to “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).
Understand ahead of time, you are not going to like every decision. No parent, boss, mayor, or elder is appreciated for every decision they make. If you look at the responsibility and accountability that exists within the roles of those in authority, it should be clear the scope of their authority affects more than just you. Others are affected. There are times when decisions will negatively impact you. Some decisions will be in your favor. Those decisions are not made for you to like. They are made for you to obey. There is no magic pill to make you feel good about having to submit to authority - any authority. If you make a conscious effort to do what God says, regardless of how it feels, you are planting a wonderful seed that will produce a harvest in your life, which is respect and honor from others. An example was that of Jesus (Luke 2:52).
There are some things in life where you cannot do whatever you want to do. This may involve your body, your mind, your stuff, or your time. This is very true if you choose to be a Christian. If you compare the Gentile and Christian in Ephesians 4:17-24, you see the difference in learning from the world and learning from Christ. For the Gentiles, there was no concern about what they did with their bodies, what they put in them, or how they dressed them. Their minds were hardened toward what is good. They felt like doing whatever they wanted. This is not the attitude or behavior of those who learn Christ. They are crucified with Him (Galatians 2:20). From that crucifixion, heart, soul, and body are under the respectful submission of His rule and decision. Humility is the key. Humility has no personal agenda. It is only interested in Christ’s will for its life. Through their submission, they understand some things are not meant to be put in their bodies or on their bodies. Those things hurt their bodies and their reputations. Doing what Jesus wants is not just better FOR you, it shows the respect you have for yourself.
Something we need to remember about respect for authority - If we lack respect for the authority of those we SEE like parents, bosses, policemen, or coaches, we will probably show little or no respect for who we DO NOT SEE - GOD.