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Where true authority lies

WHILE working in the purchasing office of a large university, I occasionally overheard one buyer say to another, ``Have you noticed how so- and-so is trying to set up a kingdom in his department?'' It alerted me to the ``power play,'' an attempt by an individual to manipulate circumstances and people so that he or she becomes or remains the one in charge. Today in our personal or business life, what can we do when it looks as if someone is out to undermine us through devious tactics?

I have found it helpful in such circumstances to reestablish in my thought an understanding of the true and ultimate source of authority. This source is always impartial, reliable, and loving. It is, in fact, God, divine Truth.

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The staff and line chart may show authority coming from particular management positions above us or from an electorate below us. But in the final analysis, God governs man, because He is the one creator, the infinite, almighty Principle of the universe. The Bible assures us, ``God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.''1 Because God is supreme, All-in-all, there is no opposite power. There is no genuine, God-ordained power in a person who manipulates; nor is power a thing to be personally possessed by anyone. From a spiritual standpoint, we see that God, divine Love, is the only authority.

This is not, obviously, a denial of a legitimate chain of command in human affairs, but a recognition that everyone, in truth, is under the jurisdiction of the one God and that human authority is effective only as it reflects the wisdom and love of God's government. Furthermore, the ultimate source of placement, or position, for everyone is God. ``Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge,''2 the Bible tells us.

To the degree, then, that we understand this, we can be confident that no opposing, malicious effort can interfere with our fulfilling of God's good, holy purpose.

I once had an opportunity to serve as chairperson of an organization helping young people. At the first meeting one of the board members outtalked everyone on every subject. As the meeting approached overtime, and before we had made decisions, he began looking at his wristwatch. He had ruled the meeting with his rambling comments, and we adjourned in a spirit of impatience and frustration.

It seemed to me he was trying to wrest the chairmanship from me; that he probably wished he were the chairman and was trying to assume that role by making lengthy remarks. I was sure he was taking advantage of my inexperience.

Before these reactionary feelings progressed much further, the thought came, ``If he is thinking those things, he must feel very unloved and unappreciated, even rejected, because he wasn't elected chairman.''

After considering the situation honestly and objectively, feeling sure I had not campaigned or manipulated prior to the simple election, I concluded that no envious desire for power could prevent the members of the board from fulfilling their individual potential for good.

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I realized that an important part of my role was not to feel threatened but to love more. Christ Jesus said, ``This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.''3 I realized I could love and appreciate each board member as God's child, recognizing that each one, including this colleague, had the God-given capacity to be and do good. My job was to encourage the members to use their individual qualifications to the best of their ability.

At the next meeting I found a greater enthusiasm and cooperation on the part of everyone. Discussions were to the point; decisions were made quickly. The business concluded promptly at the appointed time. There was a sense of cordiality, humor, respect for one another. The meetings continued in this fashion, allowing us to serve the purpose for which the organization had been established.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes: ``The pride of place or power is the prince of this world that hath nothing in Christ. Our great Master said: `Except ye... become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,' -- the reign of righteousness, the glory of good, healing the sick and saving the sinner.''4

1Psalms 62:11. 2Psalms 75:6, 7. 3John 15:12. 4The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 4.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. Isaiah 44:6

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