Ephesians 5:21 (NKJV) “submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
Mark 10:43b-44 (NKJV) “..but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.“
Submission and servanthood are two concepts that are centered around a heart of humility and meekness. I was very familiar with these terms in theory, but never had God yet placed me in a setting where i’d have to demonstrate these qualities continuously. God has really used challenging team dynamics to expose areas of my heart where I am still holding onto pride.
What is submission? the action of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.
Submission is mandatory. It is completely independent of your own opinion and therefore is not subject to whether or not you deem the authority as worthy or correct in their decision making.
Your ability to submit to man (or lack thereof) is one of the greatest reflections of your submission to God. We are required to submit to man because we have the fear of God and know that there is no authority except that which God has established. (Romans 13:1)
God has used the past 5 months to show me that the reason I had trouble submitting to the team leader is because I had a problem with submitting fully to God. I didn’t trust who he had put over me. I questioned beyond need their spiritual maturity and their ability to lead the team on the mission trip. I questioned their dedication to studying scripture and their love for God because of their lifestyle choices.
Questioning in itself isn’t wrong as discernment should be exercised at all times, however I used “discernment” as a cover-up for my lack of submission, and my excessive questioning was rooted in pride.
There were times when the team leader made decisions which I didn’t agree with, this however doesn’t give me the license to rebel, exert authority or push my viewpoint. I could of course contribute to discussions and offer up suggestions, but I had an obligation to ultimately submit to them.
I struggled with this.
My personality is big and bold – I am quite outspoken and opinionated by nature. I know how to get my opinions across in a clear and concise manner and I like to make decisions based on facts and not feelings. I’ve come to see that these traits can also be my weaknesses if they are not tempered correctly with love.
Key Lesson: My personality must be submitted to God and I must adopt a gentle and quiet spirit as is required of me as a godly woman.
Working in a team with such a wide range of personalities from sensitive and quiet to overly jokey and jovial, I had to quickly learn to tune myself appropriately in order to keep peace and harmony within the team.
God has taught me the need lay down my desires for the benefit or “greater good” of the whole team. It wasn’t easy and on occasions i’ll be honest, i’ve been annoyed with God because he was chipping away at my stubbornness. The process is ongoing but i’ve really seen some positive changes.
Walking in the discipline of servanthood and submission has really helped to improve unity within the team (one of my prayer points from day one!!). I’ve been able to resolve conflict in a gentle manner, give genuine, wholehearted support to the team leader, be more effective in my role as the prayer leader and build better friendships with the other team members.
I believe this to be one of the most important lessons that i’ve learned in the period of time leading up to the trip. Pride is extremely destructive and leads to all kinds of evils. When working in a team especially, we have to adopt a heart of humility or self will rise up and pursue personal interests.
One more point to note: Obedience is not always a pre-requisite to submission. If ever my leader were to tell me to do something that clearly violated God’s law, it would be my duty to reject the thing as I ought to obey God rather than man. However in all other aspects I must obey them, show respect to and serve them, knowing that ultimately they are are accountable to God.
Hebrews 13:17a “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account..”
If you are a leader or part of a team working towards advancing the gospel, please remember that you are one. Do not turn on one another, or allow pride to divide or stir up strife in the team. These are cunning devices the enemy will use to hinder your effectiveness as witnesses to Christ in your mission field.
Love one-another, serve one-another and be great in God’s eyes.