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To understand the nature of authority.

by The Revd John Challis

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To understand the nature of authority.

Preparation and materials

  • Borrow some hats or find them among dressing-up clothes or buy from toy shops.
  • You will need a policeman's helmet, judge’s wig, crown and bishop's mitre, plus, perhaps, a party political rosette and, finally, a crown of thorns, but it mustn’t be too thorny! It could be cut out of paper.


  1. Ask some children to come up and wear the hats and the rosette, if using.
  2. Tell them that there is a theme running through the items and ask them what they think it is.
  3. You'll need to tease it out of them that the answer is authority.
  4. Ask them what kinds of authority people who wear these hats have.
  5. Talk the children through each of the hats and the different responsibilities of the people who wear them, as follows, ending with the crown and the crown of thorns.
  6. Say something along the lines that the police have to make decisions and act with authority when someone breaks the law and how laws are set by Parliament.
  7. Judges have to use their authority to decide if someone is guilty of committing a crime or not. It is not an easy thing to do, but there are rules for them to follow.
  8. Politicians have authority, but only because the people have elected them into power.
  9. A bishop wears a mitre to show that he has authority in the Church from God.
  10. Our Queen has authority as leader of this country, but she cannot change laws. She has gained her authority by inheriting it and being crowned. She has a duty to use her life and position to serve and do things for the good of the nation. Her crown and palace are visible signs of her authority, but she also has an inner authority.
  11. Jesus had authority, too, but his was of a very different type. He knew when to be humble. He also knew when to command bad people to stop what they were doing. He spoke with authority and people often asked where that authority came from.
  12. We, too, have authority, each and every one of us. Perhaps when a group of you want to play a game, but don't know what to play, someone has to make a decision. If you saw someone playing with matches or being silly and dangerous, you might have to act with authority.
  13. Where does that authority come from? Unlike politicians, who are given authority by the people of the country who elected them, or the police or the judges, who work to set rules, or a bishop, whose rules are set by the Church, the Queen’s authority comes from God and Parliament. The Queen's authority was given to her when her father passed away and she was crowned, but her moral authority is based on not just her title but also her inner authority and we all have that.

Time for reflection

Think about what authority you have in your life. Is it an inner authority or formal one, like being elected to the school council.   

Dear Lord,
May I be a good authority on the areas that I know about and humble enough to ask for help on the ones I don’t know about.
May I be wise enough to know the difference.


‘Thewise may bring their learning’ (Come and Praise, 64)

Publication date: June 2013   (Vol.15 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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