Authoring Life


…the new group of cardinals [who have] gathered around Pope Francis have used the term authority [as] the ability to author life in others, not the mere exercise of juridical power, or holding an office… Richard Rohr

I love this fresh perspective on the word “authority.” Its etymology comes from the Latin auctorem, literally “one who causes to grow.” Even further back, it stems from the past participle of augere, “to increase.” One who is in authority for the good of the people will call life out of them that they might grow. This is much different than the wielding of power or manipulating by position, which marks the abuse we see around us today.

For all of us in authority–whether in government, education, church, business or family—we need to ask whether we are increasing life in those we represent, teach, shepherd, employ, or parent. The increase must not be in our own power, but in the life of those we have authority over. Anything less than that may border on abuse.

“One who increases the life in another.” A beautiful definition of authority. One it might be good to evaluate in our own lives.

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