Life has several importance balances; algebraic equations, bicycles, dreidels, checking accounts and so-on.
There are also balances that keep relationships healthy.
One critical balance is the balance between Authority and Responsibility.
This law of balance says:
1) When someone is responsible for something or someone, they should have a similar level of authority.
To be responsible without authority can be a form of slavery.
2) When someone has authority over a person or a process, they should have an equal amount of responsibility
for that person or process.
Authority without responsibility can be a form of tyranny.
Yet, this formula has a twist:
Every successful organization has a chain of command. Competent leaders should be followed, for they too carry a responsibility; not only for the work that needs done, but for the people doing the work.
Engineers know better than assemblers how a finished product should look and perform,
yet the plumber knows better than the CEO how to repair a broken fire sprinkler.
So, about dividing up the authority...
If dad goes to work and earns all the money for groceries, then he should be able to plan the entire menu, right?
That seems fair.
But then, what if mom does all the cooking?
And what about the kids, if the parents only want to eat baked cow heart and boiled parsnips?
What if mom makes all the clothes and does all the laundry?
Does she get to pick out what everyone wears?
What then, if dad gets the baby ready for church because mom is getting herself ready?
Shouldn’t dad be able pick out what the baby wears?
(some of your parents argue over these very things)
Generally, people want more authority than responsibility, and this selfishness causes problems.
How many wives never do yard work, yet tell the husbands how they want the yard to look?
And how many husbands complain about about a dirty house, yet won't hit the clothes hamper with their dirty socks?
While middle-graders may wish for a certain kind of food for supper, middle-graders normally don’t earn the money to buy the groceries, nor do they do the cooking. So… they can only ask.
But when kids are good at doing chores and are faithful students, good adults listen more to their kids’ opinions.
Farm kids’ days are full of chores and Barton’s mom knew this.
He didn’t ask for much, but when he did ask for ask for a special supper, his mom would try hard to make it happen.
You may say, “I’m told how to mow the yard and when to do it.
When I’m doing the work, shouldn’t I be able to decide when and how I mow? "
No. Kids are apprentices, learning something new all the time. And...
Children create a lot of work to be done by adults, even when the children aren’t in charge:
*Extra food to buy and cook.
*Extra clothes to buy and wash.
*Time needed to get kids to school and supervise homework.
*Time needed to help kids enjoy life.
*Extra rooms for kids to live in.
Think of all you have, that you haven’t earned, that your adults provide.
It is not slavery to do chores in a well-functioning home.
Every successful organization has a chain-of-command.
And your adults know things about kid-safety that you can't imagine.
(Did you know, you should always disconnect the spark plug or power, before cleaning out-under the mower?)
So what about all the hours you spend in school? Doesn't that earn you any authority?
The schooling you get is mostly for your benefit, not your parents.
So mowing the yard or helping clean the house is not an act of oppression.
Along with helping earn your keep, you are learning skills that you need as an adult, when you have a home of your own.
Your chores are a form of apprenticeship.
As for deciding when chores need done? You are learning the culture you live in. A lot of people mow their yard weekly.
My first regular job was mowing my Grandpa Harry's yard every Friday evening, so it would look sharp for Saturday.
I mowed with a 19” push mower, trimmed the sidewalks with mechanical hand shears, then swept the sidewalks with a broom.
And what about 'balance' among adults? I know several adults, while working at their jobs, believe they should be able to do the job their own way, at their own pace.
However, when a company buys a person’s time (which is what employment is), within the bounds of the law,
the employer has the right to say what a person will be doing, how they will do it, and how long it should take.
I was once a meat cutter, and the boss told me there was a certain way I was supposed to hold the knife when I was cutting meat. There is a best way to hold a knife, depending on what kind of cuts one is making.
Have I ever quit a job I thought was impossible? Yes. I left one job that was technically impossible for me to do.
Some people leave jobs that are scary to them (like high-rise window washing?)
Some people, especially women, leave jobs because of unkindness from men. That is proper.
I have left jobs for better opportunities caused by my self-improvement efforts.
I have left other jobs because of the boss, and I was fired at least once.
Even volunteers are expected to follow orders. Many hospitals have volunteers, people that come in to help at the hospital for free. Some volunteers take people in wheelchairs from the front desk, to a department for treatment.
What if your grandma went in to have her hip socket repaired, but instead the volunteer took her to the maternity ward
where they deliver babies? That would be scary, funny and embarrassing at the same time, eh?
For life to work correctly, there has to be a balance between authority and responsibility.
So, Authority and Responsibility have a place in our lives; in school, at work and at home.
Eric J. Rose
photo gif: tenor.com