So, the temptations to ground our authority in anything but love will be with us always. But sooner or later, God's good grace will knock us up the side of the head. We'll discover that disconcerting but liberating news that we have no power to ground our authority in the first place. It is something grounded in us, and grounded by another. And that other grounds it in love—more particularly, his love for us. In the same way that we are called to listen to Jesus because the Father loves him, so people in our charge are called to listen to us only because the Father loves us.I think of this in relation to two stories. One, a story by a French author written in the mid 19th century, Victor Hugo, and the other told by Jesus.
The same can be said of Valjean and Javert. Valjean, shown the Father's grace through a priest, accepts that love, gives up his righteous anger, and blesses those with whom he has contact. This isn't without cost to him, as love always sacrifices, yet he grows in heart and courage as he aids those who need him. He is empowered by the Father's love.
Javert is just as confused as the elder brother. How can one live if the rules don't count? What happens if the ledger doesn't add up? In the same way the elder brother can't understand that he is accepted and empowered, not by keeping the rules, but because his father loves him. In the end, not being able to accept the Father's grace and love leads to Javert's destruction.
Of course both stories and both men are about us. Do we treat others with the authority which love gives, or do we want everything to add up and to be square? Are we able to proceed confidently and lovingly because we are so confident in the Father's love for us? If we aren't, then we will seek power over others instead of aiding and loving them as they so need. It is through the authority of love which we work to see the Kingdom expanded. All the rest is straw.
Update: My apologies for having earlier mispelled Javert.