Honoring Authority within God’s Big Picture (Part 1):
God Paints Our Responsibilities onto the Canvas of Life

Large toddler-sized chess pieces on a giant chess board

We need explanations. No, we demand explanations. We want equality and justice. We want life to be fair. Well, maybe not fair as much as going our way. We wish life would happen the way we think it should…because it’s ours.

It’s ours!

I know this isn’t how all of us feel. In fact, I think most of us reading this post are not this way. But there are many who value themselves and their rights so dearly, that they step out of line. We may slip sometimes, too, and veer away from God’s authority system.

Paintbrush laying across an artist's paint palette

I’m rewriting two posts from 2017 about honoring the authorities in our lives:

Alley wall covered with various color wads of bubble gum

I know rewrites are a no-no, but these posts just don’t feel effective. For various reasons, they seem to cause confusion and unsettled emotions. I didn't write what I meant to say (see Melinda Inman’s post called Writing What We Mean). So, I’m offering three replacement posts that I hope are clearer and more cohesive, and very applicable to everyday Christian living.

Here are the titles for the replacement posts:

On to the first post…

Paintbrush laying across an artist's paint palette

God Paints Our Responsibilities
Onto the Canvas of Life

Farther than we can see through the telescopic expanse, and deeper than we can probe into microscopic life and matter, are the intricacies of God’s big picture. There is a great big picture we do not have the capacity to see. As we age, we notice more, but we just can’t see it all.

God can. It’s His picture.

I often complain about things not going my way and I sometimes push and shove to make my day better. When I do, I’ve lost sight of this simple fact:

God painted a bigger picture in
the foreground and background
of my portrait.

God’s big picture includes so much more than we can ever imagine, and, because we’re in the picture, we have a responsibility to those near us as well as those very far away. We’re all in the picture and He painted each of us differently, along with those who stand in positions of authority.

David humbly honored his superiors. He was accommodating and compliant. Early on we see his respect for his father, the prophet Samuel, and God (1 Samuel 16). Maybe respect came naturally for him because it seems everything David did was as if it were done for God. This should be our approach as well.

 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for human masters

It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23-24

These verses specifically address subordinates, and many other portions of Scripture support the same idea [examples in Footnote 1].

As unto the Lord, and in light of God’s big picture, here are a couple things we can learn from the honor David reserved for the authorities in his life… 

Paintbrush laying across an artist's paint palette

1. The more we recognize God as the painter, the more we honor our authorities.

God painted the authority figures in our portraits. With great leaders in mind, we readily accept this truth, but it’s also true of those whom we’d rather see step down. They didn’t sneak into the picture on their own. We might see them lobby for prominent positions, or even lie and cheat their ways onto the canvas, but they didn’t get there without God first appointing them. God painted them as He wished and where He wanted:

church leaders
government authorities

Scripture supports each of them as specially positioned by God (references in Footnote 2). We can probably assume all authority figures are assigned by God.

David honored King Saul as God’s choice, and he honored God by waiting for Saul’s tenure to conclude according to God’s plan and timing. He understood that God appoints governments and rulers.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established.

The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority
is rebelling against what God has instituted...

Romans 13:1-2

I realize it’s hard to accept this truth today. There are many who don’t live up to their roles as authority figures. But don’t forget it was also hard for David and for many others throughout biblical history.

We cannot question the decisions God makes in His sovereignty.

We don’t have a seat at His decision table,
and we would do well to respect Him for it.
Otherwise, we defy Him.

How often do we push back when a decision doesn’t go our way, or when a comment doesn’t match our biases? Consider for a moment:

Yellow thinking emoji
o      Do our desires and points of view differ from God’s?
o      Can God call us men and women after His own heart as he did David (Acts 13:21-23)?

Paintbrush laying across an artist's paint palette

2. The more we revere God’s big picture, the more we value our everyday tasks.

God painted so much outside of the frames of our selfies, but maybe we miss it. Maybe we let people and peripheral activities go unnoticed sometimes. Do we limit our attention to our immediate?

•  Will my family get along today?
•  Will I have a good commute?
•  I hope it won’t be a long day at work/school?
•  When will I get a job/raise?
•  Will he/she finally notice me?

Of course, we should spend time pursuing our ambitions and passions, but God painted more, including less exciting things. Call them mundane, monotonous, or menial. We have responsibilities. Everyday tasks. Maybe they’re activities that help us remain healthy, or stay organized, or make life better for our families. Many of those activities are expected of us.

180 degree panoramic of desk and computer in a work office

When it comes to our everyday work,
God wants us to do it out of honor for our authorities,
in acceptance of His sovereign decisions,
and as unto Him.

God chose David to be king, but he had to wait over 20 years to receive the crown. In the meantime, he honored his predecessor by fulfilling his everyday duties.

•  He was King Saul’s personal musician, a.k.a., servant.
•  He played soothing music to calm Saul’s tormented heart.
•  He was summoned to live with Saul for reasons that suited Saul.
•  He was Saul’s personal armor bearer, but he didn’t get to bear Saul's armor in the most significant battle of his armor-bearing career: when they faced the Philistines and their giant Goliath.

So, David, at times, probably stood at the crossroads where we tend to ask ourselves, “Why hasn’t anything changed? Why am I putting up with this? This is not working for me. How can I get out!?”

But David didn’t ask those questions. As we discussed earlier, he treated his duties as assignments from God. That’s why…

…when the Israelite army went to battle without him, he returned to his home to shepherd his father’s flock (1 Samuel 17:12-15)

…when his father asked him to take bread to his brothers on the battle line, he obliged him wholeheartedly (1 Samuel 17:15-20)

…when Saul decided David had become a threat to his kingship, David didn’t fight back, but remained on the run, living in the wild, with limited resources and sometimes none at all (1 Samuel 21)

Sure, David wondered about his situations at times, but he didn't complain. He maintained his respect for the journey God set before him. He fulfilled his duties under King Saul (musician and armor bearer), to his father (shepherd and bread courier), and to God (faithful follower who succeeded by honoring God’s choices for his life). He even accepted his position under Saul as a battle regiment captain and didn’t shy away from certain missions where he’d face scores of enemies while Saul hoped that he would be killed by the Philistines (1 Samuel 18).

You probably already realize that this article speaks just as much about honoring our superiors as it does our equals and our subordinates. David’s honor and respect were not dependent on relation or interaction.

Our disposition reflects our attitude toward God.
The way we treat others is the way we treat God.

Paintbrush laying across an artist's paint palette

We’ll cover more about honor and God’s big picture in the next 2 posts. For now, in all honesty, how are we doing? I struggle.

Yellow thinking emoji

o      Do we honor the authorities God placed in our lives?
o      Do we respect them enough to follow through with our responsibilities under them?
o      What does our response to authority say about our relationship with God?

Read Part 2 and Part 3.

Watch a short kids video version of point #2 on YouTube.

If you have questions about honor and our authorities, or if you want to know more about living for Jesus and what it means to be a child of God, please email me at authordlv@att.net.

Read more blog posts here.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


  1. LOVE these points, Stephen! I am of the mindset that God is always on His throne, no matter who is in authority on earth. That truth provides me with comfort even when those in power are making decisions I disagree with.

    1. Amen, Emily. God is on the throne of our nation, municipalities, workplaces, schools, churches, sports leagues, families, you name it...and we will be in His home someday. Thank you for reading.

  2. Hey Stephen, I enjoyed this first rewrite. I like the idea of God painting a big picture and how He sees it all while our vision is somewhat limited to what we see. And I agree God painted authority figures into the portrait. I like your point on the Lord's sovereignty...because no matter what happens in the world or in my life, that truth rises to the top. I like to say, God is CEO, am I in His seat?

    1. Hi Karen. Yes, it's so easy to limit our focus on our own situations, but so much more is in play. God is certainly CEO, even when it seems like someone else less noble is running the show. There's a bigger picture we may never see, but it's still there. Thanks for visiting.

  3. Such an inspiration Stephen. I love seeing God as an artist and how He is creating us into His image and at times it can be painful but it's for our benefit.

    1. Yes, Ava. God sees a masterpiece in us and part of that masterpiece is learning how to accept His sovereign plan with honor and respect for the authorities in our lives. More on God as the artist in the next 2 posts. :-)

  4. What an eye-opener this post is! I love the encouragement!

    1. Thank you for reading, Julie. This is probably a hard message for some and I hope it paints a clearer picture on what God wants from us.

  5. Amen. "Our disposition reflects our attitude toward God." I pray we honor Him in each moment.

    1. It's a sobering truth, Melissa, but also how we can spot Christians sometimes.

  6. Justice and fairness are big questions. I definitely struggle with the "it's not fair" attitude all too often. More & more I'm trying to surrender to the truth that God knows justice better than I do and as you said.. He knows and paints the whole picture.

    1. I totally get it, Christina. I get frustrated when things that never should've happened actually do happen. I don't like the should-never-have-been. But, yes, knowing that God painted a bigger picture and that He is familiar with it helps. God is in complete control.

  7. I love this post, Stephen! I am learning little by little, that God is God, not me. It's embarrassing to admit how prideful I can be in my viewpoint of life - but the truth is whenever I feel things are not "going my way", that is evidence of my skewed viewpoint. As we remember that God is good and can design things beyond our understanding, I pray that I become more and more humble before Him and His plans for my part in His masterpiece. I am only one small brushstroke. May I be forever grateful to be that small part that I am.

    1. Hi Melissa. My pride butts in all too often. I think you hit the nail on the head: humility is key. Many will not finish reading this post because of the lack of humility or because of stubbornness. I'm thankful for your humble and willing heart that always praises God.

  8. Stephen, this is so good. It's a constant effort for me to remember it's all abut GOD'S plan, not my own! As you say, "God’s big picture includes so much more than we can ever imagine." Now, my prayer is to align myself with His plan and just forget about my own.

    1. I struggle with this, too, Jessica. But when we take several steps back to see more of the big picture and understand it is God's picture, aligning ourselves with His plan comes more naturally. Water off our backs streams more readily. Turning the other cheek becomes more of a reflex. Jesus did this and it secured life everlasting for all who believe. God's plan.

  9. Great pointers Brother, thank you for your post!

  10. Thanks for this reminder! I was just studying David; incredible how he honored the king God had chosen, even when Saul was seeking his life. May we honor those authorities God has placed in our lives!

    1. Yes, Candace. It's so hard to pay honor and respect to someone who opposes us, or even seems to oppose us...like government officials, church leaders, supervisors, parents... When we focus our honor in God, the bigger picture is a little easier to see.

  11. Governmental authority is hardest for me. I pay my taxes but what they are used for actually makes me think I should confess paying them as sin before God!

    1. Yes, it's hard to continually submit to governments or people who counter God, but He is in full control. Thank you for your honest comment.

  12. Wow, you really hit the mark with this one. I struggle with wanting things my own way without considering God’s plans awe always better. It sure would be nice if we could see the big picture, someday in heaven we will understand.

    1. Yes, Yvonne. That elusive big picture, which is why we walk in faith. And we gets bits and pieces as we go, as we yield to Him. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  13. Great post, Stephen! The sovereignty of God over our leaders and authorities is a significant truth for Christians to grapple with. It’s spelled out clearly for us in Romans 13, even calling them “ministers of God for good.” And Nero was Caesar when God inspired Paul to write that. We often don’t know what good may have been accomplished, but God knows his purposes and reasons.

    We can apply this to our current political situation. President Trump accomplished some good things — peace in the Middle East, a healthier economy, a better taxation schedule for middle income families, and the COVID vaccination program. However, his human flaws (which we all have) spiraled out of control when he lost the election, resulting in his invitation to supporters to carry out an act that goes against our laws and our constitution—an attempt to use the Vice President to overturn an honest election, which the VP rightly refused to cooperate with. This resulted in a riot, deaths, and a bad outcome for the president.

    The takeaway is for us to recognize the need to pray for our leaders if we want peace in our nation, fog they are merely human, just as we are. We can apply this lesson by beginning now to pray for President-Elect Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris. They come into office with not only a pandemic to continue to deal with but also the fallout of that event at the Capitol. They are greatly in need of our prayers. God’s Word instructs us to pray for our leaders and for all in authority. Now is the time to obey that instruction.

    1. Thank you for adding to the conversation, Melinda. I wrote this during the year Trump became president and I had no idea how many Americans would live out the variety of deeply-rooted positions that led us to today. It also seems there is more talk of theories and collective opinions that may or may not be true. But as I re-read this post, it is just as relevant today. God's truth doesn't change. Neither do His sovereignty and ultimate control over all governments and circumstances.

      Yes, we do need to pray for our leaders who may be facing much more than they envisioned for their roles. We also need to especially pray that we can live peaceably so we can both freely live and share the gospel. We cannot lose sight of what's most important.

  14. PS Thanks for the mention in your post. 😊


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

Stone Cold Truth about the Grave, Grace, and Honor

A Gift for Jesus (A Short Poem)

Boarding and Deboarding Noah's Ark
The Ride of Your Life!
(Episode 4: Our Response of Worship)