What should I do if an authority asks me to do wrong?
Has your boss ever asked you to do something that you think is wrong? Have your parents asked you to do something wrong? What should you do?
Instead of going along with it to keep the peace or quitting in anger and frustration, learn how you can respond by taking seven steps of action that will honor your authority. Most likely, if you take these steps, you can achieve your authority’s goals without violating your conscience or disobeying God.
1. Check your attitude.
Your authority will be quick to sense a bad attitude and react to it. For example, it is easy to communicate a haughty or self-righteous attitude with simply a look of disgust or a piercing stare. Ask God to show you ways that you may have dishonored or offended your authority.
- Disloyalty is the basis of an independent attitude.
- Self-righteousness is the basis of a condemning attitude.
- Pride is the basis of an ungrateful attitude.
- Selfishness is the basis of a lazy attitude.
- Self-indulgence is the basis of an impure attitude.
2. Clear your conscience.
Have you been disrespectful, disobedient, or disloyal? Have you wrongfully taken anything from the company? Have you been lazy or irresponsible? If so, you should immediately ask God to forgive you. You also need to ask your authority for forgiveness and restore your relationship.
- Correct your offensive attitudes.
- Complete any unfinished assignments that were given to you by your authority.
- If necessary, make restitution for time or resources that you have wasted, damaged, or stolen.
3. Discern basic intentions.
Think about how your authority sees the situation. He may be trying merely to correct or improve an area of your performance on the job. Don’t assume that you have all the facts. Sometimes his goals can be carried out in a way that does not violate your conscience.
- Find out what your authority’s goals and wishes are.
- Regarding the command, find out your authority’s frame of reference.
- Ask your authority to point out your blind spots (issues you’ve been blind to).
- Ask God to reveal to you any bigger goals that He may want to accomplish through the situation.
4. Design creative alternatives.
Take what you have learned about the situation, your role, and your authority’s perspective and discern if another option is possible—one that will meet the goals of the original command. Search for wisdom in the Scriptures.
- Eliminate any resistant attitudes on your part.
- Use difficult situations to expand your frame of reference.
- Search the Book of Proverbs for new insights.
- Design an alternative that will thoroughly accomplish your authority’s original goals.
5. Appeal to your authority.
Request an opportunity to personally discuss the situation with him; ask the Lord to protect both of you from interruptions and distractions. Communicate your concerns with humility and sincerity, and present your creative plan.
- Choose to have the spirit of a learner and a servant.
- Explain personal convictions without an attitude of condemnation.
- Present your creative alternative.
- Explain how your authority’s original goals will be accomplished through your alternative.
- Sincerely leave the final decision up to your authority.
6. Give God time to change your authority’s mind.
Don’t demand an immediate response. Give your authority time to carefully consider your proposal.
As God works in the situation, often He will bring more pressures into your authority’s life. These pressures can take many forms, including financial difficulties, health needs, or relational crises. As your authority feels the pressure, he will then put more pressure on you!
However, God will ultimately use this pressure for your benefit. Continue to honor and serve your authority with an excellent spirit as you wait patiently and confidently on God. (See Daniel 6:3.)
Only when you have thoroughly carried out steps 1’6 are you ready to take step 7. Few people have been required to take this final step.
7. Suffer for not doing what is wrong.
If your authority rejects your alternative, receive God’s grace to respond to him with meekness.(See Matthew 11:29–30.) Respectfully tell him that because of your personal beliefs, you cannot do what he has asked you to do, and accept the consequences of your decision.
- Jesus told His disciples that they should be willing to be rejected by their families rather than deny Him. (See Matthew 10:32–39.)
- Daniel was willing to be killed rather than obey the command to worship the king. (See Daniel 6.)
When Jesus called Simon Peter and Andrew to be His disciples, He said, “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19). As you check your attitude, clear your conscience, and make an appeal to your authority, you, too, must follow the Lord. He will guide you in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. (See Psalm 23:3.)
This information was adapted from the Basic Seminar Textbook, pages 34–35. Learn more in the Basic Seminar Follow-Up Course, pages 13–27 and pages 45–59.