Establishing Moral Authority
Glynnis Whitwer

"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." John 13:14-15 (NIV)

Talking with my son one day, I mentioned I thought I might have made a good lawyer. I love discovering facts, proving my point and standing for justice. It wasn't a real longing, just a passing comment in an afternoon filled with incidental but pleasurable conversation.

At my observation, my son adamantly replied, "You would make a horrible lawyer!"

I looked at him with curiosity and surprise dressing my face. He continued, "You would never lie. In fact, you could boast the fastest conviction rates in your ads. I can see you standing before the judge saying, 'Your honor, my client is guilty!'"

We both laughed at that comment. And I completely agreed with his assessment of my lawyering potential. I guess it's a good thing I stuck with writing.

My son made an exaggerated comment that day to make an observation about my character. We both know there are lawyers with the highest integrity. That wasn't his point. His point was his mother doesn't lie.

His comment snuggled its way into my heart and has stayed there ever since. I make a lot of mistakes in my parenting, but apparently I've done something right. My son knows the real me – the good, bad and ugly. And in this one area of my life, my son has made a crucial observation of my character: it's consistent with what I say.

I've discovered that I'm influenced most by people whose lives match their words. Interestingly, for these people, doing what's right is a natural way to honor God. Their influence over me is a by-product of that devotion, and I'm changed by watching the unspoken alignment of their talk and walk.

Jesus had both authority and influence because His character and actions completely matched His words. Twelve disciples watched His every move. Because they found no inconsistencies, they grew to trust Jesus. This gave Jesus a moral authority that superseded the authority of any other religious leader of the time.

That's the type of mother, wife and friend I want to be. I want to be pursuing God with all my heart, and in so doing, establish moral authority in my life with those closest to me. You see, I understand that even though I have authority with my children, I don't have influence unless there is consistency in my life.

Having my life match my words is one of my highest desires in life. People will eventually notice inconsistencies in my life and when they do, it erodes my influence. Sometimes, I only get one chance to influence the people around me. Sadly, once lost, moral authority is very difficult to regain.

I don't always get it right. There are plenty of times when my actions don't match my words. But my son's comment inspired me to examine my life, and see where there are inconsistencies. As I find them, I am being honest about my weakness, and seeking God's help to deal with them. That's the only way I'll ever develop into the woman I know God wants me to be: one who doesn't have to shout to make her point, but whose quiet actions speak louder than words.

Dear Heavenly Father, I need Your help. I want to be a woman whose life completely matches up to her words. You know there are areas where I fall short, like patience. I submit those areas to You, and ask for Your strength to be the women You want me to be. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Need help with parenting? You might enjoy When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer

P31 Woman magazine

Visit Glynnis’ blog to continue this discussion

Help your teens strengthen their moral authority with Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Brett and Alex Harris

Brokenness, Surrender, Holiness: A Revive Our Hearts Trilogy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Application Steps:
Identify one area of your life that doesn't match what you say you believe. (Examples might be honesty, patience, kindness, forgiveness.)

Using a Bible concordance, search for scriptures that inspire you in this area. Write them down and review them regularly. (Bible Gateway offers a free keywords search.)

Why is moral authority so much more powerful that traditional authority?

What are some of the reasons we say one thing but do another?

Power Verses:
Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (NIV)

Titus 2:11-12, "For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God." (NLT)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

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Blogger Sunshine Abuwi said...

I started my day with your blog today and I am thankful to have found it. Your message was right on time.

I just prayed for consistency last night. And being a lost sheep returning to the flock, I forgot how to ask God for help.

Seeing your prayer and reading your words has shown me how again.


Blogger Colleen Reske said...

What wonderful guidance to help us become the women God wants us to be! Thank you, Glynnis! I know that by turning to God and asking Him to reveal my weaknesses, He will help me to overcome them. Thank you for helping me find the courage to persevere.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this devotion everyday, and I try to comment on how it applies to my life each day. I have had moral authority in my life, have had? I have fallen in areas of my life and this makes me stand to attention today. I need to watch what I say more than what I do. I get frustrated and spout things that never should have been said. I fall short in moral authority in that area of my life. I am strong in the area where telling lies does not affect me. Still my tongue is an unruly character in my life. My emotions are all over the place usually and that is one area I wish I had moral authority in. Please pray for me in this area. Thanks Denise

Anonymous Lorraine Furtner said...

Glynnis---I love your posts. Your writing comes straight from your heart and touches mine. I prayed before sitting down here today how much I needed help in my personal be consistent with my teen, to have more patience, more short, more fruit. I want her and my husband to see the evidence of the Holy Spirit making a change in me. I have made a lot of mistakes in those areas and sometimes I wonder if I will ever regain that ground. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this, and sharing the gift God gave you. I too am a writer, and I feel how can God use me when I mess up so much? Reading this, I am reminded of His forgiveness and filled with hope.
Sincerely, Lorraine Furtner

Anonymous Annette said...

one who doesn't have to shout to make her point, but whose quiet actions speak louder than words.

This last line was dead on for me. . . that is my hope and prayer. . . because within that simple line I am hoping that I can leave a legacy for my children. . . a legacy of hope and love and GOD. . .

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This devotion today is right on point for me. I'm having trouble with my emotions (just lost my Dad to cancer- very suddenly) and dealing with a very strong-willed 2 yr old son. Thank you for reminding me of all this!

Blogger Glynnis Whitwer said...

Thank you for your comments today on my devotion. I'm delighted to hear from my sisters in Christ.

To the sister who has just lost her father, please accept my deepest sympathy. I pray God is your peace and comfort in the days ahead. And wisdom as you raise your litle boy.

In Christ's love, Glynnis

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