The building blocks of Healthy Authority

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Have you ever lived in a home where the electric wiring is not quite right? Bulbs fuse, sparks fly and the occasional wall plug has a black stain to show for a short circuit incident that spat out a blue flame along with someone’s hairdryer.

I think families are sometimes very similar to buildings with hazardous wiring. We fight the fires, “unplug the mains” and occasionally fear that when we look the other way, everything may go up in smoke.

In our family we often have to deal with short fuses and explosions and every now and again we’re convinced that someone has a “screw loose”. That kind of thing leaves us feeling powerless and overwhelmed, wanting to call an expert with very special tools. We begin to believe that it is all about having “power tools.” We end up using too much force. It stops the discipline problem of the moment but severs the loving bond between us and our children. It puts us back in control for a while but feeds resentment that may last for years to come…

Some parents no longer even look for tools – they just throw their hands up in the air and ignore or wish away the situation. They make it the school’s problem and the teachers have to suffer!

Here’s the good news: all of us have a set of tools.

Unfortunately, in many homes they lie strewn all over, much like my various sets of screwdrivers, instead of hanging on one of those garage walls where the shape of every single tool has been traced out with a black marker. Every tool has an intentional place and purpose in the parenting process – on the ready for almost any challenge. It is thoughtful and pro-active rather than impulsive and reactive.

This wall gives order and background to our parental actions. Parents with healthy authority find that they don’t have to get all flustered as they grope around frantically for methods and techniques, because their tools are neatly organised on their wall of authority. What’s more, their children don’t start wondering what they can get away with, because their parents’ authority is visible and tangible.

The tools for our wall of authority, unlike the advanced tools used by experienced handymen, are simple skills we can all acquire. The Bible offers wonderful building blocks with which we can rebuild our wall of authority. Some of us start out on the road of parenting without any tools at all, much like young married couples who don’t even own a hammer! Others “inherit” several tools from their parents, who managed to set an example of healthy authority. But in reality all of the tools are available to those of us who want to cultivate children the way a careful gardener cultivates young trees.

In this online course, Hettie Brittz shares 12 building blocks to build a steady wall of authority.

Ready, steady, build!