Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Authority Figure

Several years ago, Hud Mellencamp won the 14 year old age division of the Indiana Golden Gloves. Son of legendary rock star, John 'Cougar' Mellencamp, the youngster qualified for nationals in the 132 pound class. In one of the best music videos ever, the senior Mellencamp belted out Authority Song in the role of....BOXER! I sense a pattern! The following, about that song and its place in my heart, is from January 28, 2007.

I owe this one to Jennifer. (I should say, Jeniphurrr, the latest way of spelling her name. Something about teenage girls!) A sophomore in my Bible class, Jennifer played junior high basketball for me. She came up last week and gave me my Christmas present, apologizing for being a month late. I wasn't expecting anything from Jennifer, one of my all-time favorite WCS Lady Wildcats. But it was a great present, a gift card from Best Buy! Now, I'm not electronic but I had ideas. Yesterday, I drove to the nearest Best Buy and just as I turned in, it came on the oldies' station: The Authority Song by John Cougar Mellencamp. Parking my Toyota, I killed the engine and cranked the volume. I was transported to an old blue-and-white school bus cruising down the road at dusk in South Georgia, headed back to Dasher after a baseball game. It was my first coaching job at Georgia Christian School, trying to turn the program into a winner. I am relatively certain the bus driver that long ago Spring was Wendell Spearman, one of the most patient souls I've worked with, and he tolerated us. Who won that day? I have no clue but I remember this like it was yesterday: the Generals and their coach had a singalong when The Authority Song played on the radio and I have never heard a bus so loud. It was so much fun, the kind of memory that outlives won-loss records and batting averages. I loved that song, with its repeating, thumping chorus.
I fight authority, Authority always wins.
I fight authority, Authority always wins.
I been doing it since I was a young kid
I come out grinnin'
I fight authority, Authority always wins.

I made mistakes as a kid but was never defiant. For a couple of minutes, I could belt out Mellencamp's rock anthem and feel borderline rebellious before retreating to my normal state of obedience. Man, I was living on the edge! Now, I make my players use headphones when listening to music and if I hear it, it's too loud. Times changed- and so have I.

I don't think kids are much different than when I was young; they just have more technology and options. Some will fight you on everything if you let you don't let them. Some are so compliant they won't speak up even when I make a mistake. I have intentionally made outlandish statements in class before and no one challenged me. We can't stop using our brain. I grew up with a chain of command in my house: the Lord, my folks, my teachers-coaches-all other adults. I didn't fight authority; I respected it. One of the most uncomfortable times of my life was running two youth baseball leagues as a college student in Arkansas and telling the coaches, some of whom were my professors, what to do. The Bible teaches authority is never to be feared when we do what is right. It might be in the classroom or at the job, in the family or in the church. What amazed the first century crowds about the Messiah? The Scriptures tell us that it was the authority he taught with. Our minister, David Yasko, made the point recently that authority can be granted but respect is earned. Authority administered with kindness and consideration makes submission feel like cooperation. That's how Jesus did it. If a child learns that authority is instituted for their benefit, life can become bearable. And when The Authority Song comes over the airways, cover their ears and sing like you're on a school bus with a bunch of teenage boys. Authority always wins.
PS: With Jennifer's gift card, I bought my second George Foreman Grill!

Applicable quote of the day:
"The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn."

To watch John Mellencamp's video of Authority Song, click here!

God bless,
Luke 18:1

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1 comment:

Family fun said...

very nice! we always told our kids that they could say anything to us as long as they said it with respect. our daughter was the only one who never 'got it!' then she would be upset bc her brother (our oldest son) could say things that she viewed as a challenge to us. yes, he challenged us on some things but did it in a respectful way and we'd sit down and talk about it. sometimes we changed our mind and other times our decision stood. our daughter was one to always challenge authority like a bull charging! needless to say, she didn't make much progress in trying to make her point. we'd try over and over again to calm her down but she always kept charging! i'm so glad all 3 boys realized that 1) they needed to show respect and 2) they could say anything when said with respect!