If you are the superior
- When you are a superior, walk worthy of all honour and due respect, behaving yourself in your place with such holiness, wisdom, gravity, justice, and mercy; and observing such a medium between too much rigour and remissness (between straining your authority too far, and relaxing it too much) that those under your charge may have cause to fear and love you, Lev 25:43.
- Wait on [serve in] your office. Be watchful over your charge with all diligence and faithfulness, using all good means to direct and preserve them [your inferiors] in the duties of godliness and honesty, 1 Tim 2:2, which is the only end why God has set you over them. The means are:
- Go before them in good example. Examples of superiors have a kind of constraining power, working strongly and insensibly [without known influence] upon inferiors.
- Pray with and for them, Job 1:5.
- Command only things lawful, possible, and convenient, and only those to which the extent of your authority from God and man doth allow you.
- As much as in you lies, procure for them the means, and put them upon the opportunities of being and of doing good, Exod 20:8-10.
- Prevent and likewise remove all occasions of their being [evil] and of doing evil.
- Protect and defend them, according to your power from all wrongs and injuries.
- When they do well, encourage them by letting them see that you take notice as readily of their well-doing as of their faults, Ps 101:6. And so far as is fit, let them have the praise and fruit of their well-doing, Prov 31:31.
- When they do evil, rebuke them more or less according to the nature of their fault, but never with bitterness, Col 3:19-21, Eph 6:9, by railing at, or reviling them, in terms of disdain and contempt. There should be always more strength of reason in your words to convince them of their sin, and to make them see their danger, and to know how to be reformed, than heat of anger in uttering your own displeasure.
- If admonitions and words will reclaim them, then proceed not to correction and blows; but if they regard not your reproofs, then according to the nature of the fault, and condition of the person, and the limits of your authority, you must, in mercy to their soul, give them sufficient but not excessive punishment, Prov 29:15-19.
- When you have done thus, and have waited a convenient time for their amendment, but find none – when they thus declare themselves to be rebellious – you must seek the help of higher authority, Deut 21:18-21.
- that you have a Superior in heaven, Eph 6:9, Col 4:1;
- that you are His servant and deputy, governing under Him; and
- that all your authority is from Him, and that, at last, a time will come when you must give account to Him of your government.
If you are the inferiorAs you are under authority, Exod 20:12:
- You must honour and reverence all whom God has set over you.
- You must obey them, Eph. 5:24, and Eph 6:1-5, Heb 13:17, in all such their lawful commands as are within the compass of their authority and commission, and that with fidelity, and singleness of heart, for the Lord's sake, 1 Pet 2:13, 14, Eph 6:5, 6.
- You must submit to their reproofs, corrections, and just restraints with patience, without murmuring, or answering again or resisting, Tit 2:9. For if you do not submit to the powers that be ordained of God, or if you resist them, Rom 13:2, you rebel against God and resist the ordinance of God, which whoso doth, shall receive to himself damnation or judgment. But if you, not only for wrath, but chiefly for conscience [sake] to God, Rom 13:5, do submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, 1 Pet 2:13, 14, doing therein the will of God from the heart, Eph 6:6-8, then, whether men requite you or not, you shall be sure of the Lord to receive the reward of the inheritance, Col 3:24, for thus obeying men, you serve the Lord Christ.