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Definition of Authority:

Authority / Bild Nr. 41958898
Authority (in german: Autorität)| ©: XtravaganT - Fotolia

Authority is the reputation; a person’s vested power according to external powers and inner supremacy.

Authority is the human possibility to have a positive effect on other human beings.

Quote: "I do not believe what you say; I believe what you “live” (a young person)
"…and if you humiliate me, you make me larger“(Psalm 18, 36)

How do I become authoritative?

Answer: By having authority! This statement is not quite correct and should lead us to the following questions, which everyone should think about for themselves:

  1. For which reasons do I need to ask myself: „How do I become authoritative?"
  2. Do I feel unsure and undecided in front of the group? Where do these feelings come from?
  3. What are the reasons for my need to be well liked and popular?
  4. How can I derive the authority “my authority – from the bond between myself and the “author of all authors on authorities", God, our lord?
  5. What does authority mean to me?

Become Authority as a Youth Leader / Bild Nr. 29494778
Become Authority as a Youth Leader| ©: Monkey Business - Fotolia

I often see my possibilities as a leader just like the boy’s group leader whose extracts I quote:
As I arrived at the clubhouse at 18.45 slightly nervous, some boys were already there. Some of them stood with their scooters in the parking area and were expecting me. My first observation was that 2 boys had already brought a crate of beer with them. I felt that a main problem, which I had never dealt with consequently enough, would resurface. I therefore asked Rolf apprehensively what the beer was for. "To drink," came the reply. "To drink during the breaks", said Gerhard, who held a half empty bottle of beer behind his back.

In this moment, I didn’t know what to do: Should I come down hard or be tolerant once again? However I knew that I wasn’t being tolerant, but too soft. I have soft points and the members of the group know that they can talk me into compromises. I turned to Gerhard and Rolf and said determinedly: "The crate of beer stays outside! “

Twisted faces. Martin answered stubbornly: "What have you got against a bottle of beer, man?" I felt that I started to tighten up and noticed that I was slowly becoming sour. I said: "The game is over, if you push me to the limit and open another bottle of beer“. They accepted the threat and we went into the recreation room with the crate of beer. We hardly had a foot in the room and one of the group members had covered his pals in sneezing powder. Chaos broke out, kids were running in and out of the room, and I began to boil up inside. I flipped out and really let my anger rage, I screamed uncontrollably and severely and noticed, the more I shouted at the group, the less seriously I was taken. I screamed that I would throw them all out and that they shouldn’t bother coming to me ever again and that I’d had enough of the place anyway. I was not just sour but really sour and began to pack my things together which I had just unpacked. The threats must have worked because five boys started to lend their support and shouted at the others, that they should quit messing around. It went on like that for a while, until a level was reached where I finally start the group time. However, I had hardly started the first game, and two boys ran past with a bottle of beer. What should I do now?

Maybe all of us will notice that it can sometimes be a good idea if a group leader notes down his conflict experiences, in order to have a better awareness of his own behaviour: by studying our way of dealing with a situation, we can recognise if we were really authoritative or if we had only behaved in an authoritative way. Authoritarian behaviour avails from certain roles which are deduced from formal roles.

I consider myself to be competent and to be authoritative due to my position. However, I am really “officially authoritative” within the group due to a commission through the institute with responsibilities and the such? I sometimes consider myself to be a “special authority” in order to cover my uncertainty. Do I have knowledge and abilities? Am I an expert in order to have the authority of an expert? I consider myself to be a father and mother to my group members and naturally use the authority of a parent. I play the patriarch and hide behind my uncertainty, my embarrassment and my fears.

How do I become authoritative?

1. Step:

  • Accept that god, our lord, created you to be just like you are: With your individual gifts, talents and abilities as well as your limits, disabilities and lacks.

  • Accept that god, our lord, accepts your mistakes, which you do not need to overact, with your snatches at success and glories. In front of god, you don’t always need to be perfect and you do not need to wear a mask.

  • Accept that god, our lord, wants to continue his work with and through you, as his power is strong in the meek! Our lord managed to make a difference with his love, not with thousands of men or other acts of power.

2. Step:

  • Respect the limits and personal space of others. Avoid control and interference in his freedom. Help him to recognise his own situation so that he can accept responsibility for himself.

  • Encourage the abilities and knowledge of individuals.

  • Accept other people’s feelings and do not play with them. Recognise their own personal choices in the way they lead their lives.

  • Be prepared to sacrifice yourself for and devote yourself to others.

  • Learn to be a good example with self discipline and discipline together with punctuality and sacrifice. Assume that the children want to be like you. You must therefore speak and act accordingly. You should be genuine, clear and decided. Fight against tepidity and ambiguity. Teenagers who are going through puberty will not understand an ambiguous language and behaviour and may bring it into accordance with their belief.

  • Confess your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Orientate your behaviour according to reality. Make it transparent, justified, acceptable and believable. Try to impress in a modest way. Ask questions and let yourself by asked. Accept that you cannot know everything and that life is a long learning curve experienced together with others. “I learn from you too”. Prepare yourself thoroughly for your time with the group, knowledge doubles what you say.

  • Do not hide your feelings and be prepared be disagree. Do you not retain your information for yourself, but show that you are prepared to help achieve independence. Recognise attempts, conflicts and problems as learning experiences which help us to mature. This also involves promoting joint responsibility. Think about the first step. God will give you serenity.

How might I lose my authority?

  • If I see others as objects which I can manipulate, threaten, put down and criticise negatively.

  • If I demand total obedience, treat others like a child, do not promote independence, suppress and isolate others. I often notice how we have double standards, are inconsequent and how we play a role which is not our own. I can lose my authority if I always want to be perfect, blown-up and unreal, if I want to rule over others out of fear of loss of authority, if I keep information from others and make out as if I know everything and play the superior.

  • If I let myself go, always give in and am not prepared to admit to my mistakes. If I allow uncontrolled destructive forces to take hold of me or others. If I silence criticism in order to exercise my power. If I give in, if I am soft and if I spoil others.

Some points more:

  • Act weakly
  • Act different than I am
  • Change my opinions
  • Poor preparation
  • Arrive too late
  • I am not a good example (appearance)
  • Do not keep promises
  • Do not act consequently
  • Far too authoritative
  • Far too friendly (acting like a best pal)
  • Lose the nerve
  • Play an old record again and again
  • Show superiority
  • If you need the group more than the group needs you
  • For your own self-confidence
  • If you must have authority

Authoritative behaviour is often desired by the group members. One reason is that it transmits feelings of safety, but also because youths of a certain age look for authoritative persons who they can question. The wrong conclusions are often drawn.

"Pay attention to those who are placed under your command in the name of Christ. Not to rule over them, but to be an example to them."
(1.Petrus 5, 2-3)

[ © | 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work ] - 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work
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