25 Lessons in 25 Years – Lesson 2: Submission to Authority is Underrated

Today we continue a series I started several weeks ago called “25 Lessons in 25 Years.” Today’s lesson is this…submission to authority is underrated.

I know the word “submission” is not a popular word in today’s pop culture and for some people it carries negative connotations. But I know this to be true, submission to authority brings blessing.

I have heard some say that there is no clear Biblical support for the principle of submitting to authority. I have also heard some say the scripture admonishes us to “work with” the spiritual authorities in our lives, but it does not command us to “submit” to their leadership. Most of the time the writers, theologian or “seekers of truth” who hold to this belief either just came out of a bad situation where a leader misused his/her authority or they have never lead a team of people and are clueless to team dynamics. Either way, I do not agree. Submission to spiritual and civil authority is clear in scripture and it does bring blessing to your life and ministry.

Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit. Hebrews 13:17 (NLT)

I learned this principle the hard way. I remember a time when I let my stubborn and rebellious side get the best of me. Many years ago, I found myself working for a new Sr. Pastor who did things much differently than the one who hired me to work at that church. He laid out his vision for our church and how we were going to get there. Well, bottom line is this…I did not agree. I thought it was an incorrect approach and was destined to fail. So I let it be known where I stood on the matter expecting him to be wowed by my intellect and wisdom. He wasn’t.

He let me know we were moving forward with his plan and instructed me to get on board. But I decided to continue pushing back. I did it in meetings and I did it in one on one conversations.

To make a long story short I realized that I was “that guy” who was making it difficult for the leader to do his job. I was reading the passage from Hebrews 13 and was instantly convicted. You see, my intentions were right, I wanted to help the church, I wanted to see the kingdom advanced, but I felt strongly that I had a better plan. Guess what, it did not matter. I was not the Sr. Pastor. My role was to support the Sr. Pastor and help make the vision God gave him a reality. If I could not do that, then the correct thing to do was resign and let someone else come in who could align with this leader.

Road BlockI did not feel a release to leave that church body, but I knew my actions and words were wrong. In fact, it was sin. I went to my leader and confessed to him that I was being a stumbling block. My intentions were never to be an obstacle, but that is exactly what I had become. Both in word and deed. I confessed that to my Sr. Pastor knowing he could fire me, but I was determined to do what was right in the sight of the Lord. He graciously forgave me and we worked together to fulfill the plan. God did some amazing things at that church and I can honestly say I experienced blessings on my life and leadership in ways that would not have happened if I held on to my stubborn ways.

Here’s the lesson I learned…cooperation is going along with the leader when I agree. Submission only comes into play when I disagree. That is when we, as mature believers, make a conscious decision to intentionally align with leadership because that is how you move forward.

Obviously if a spiritual leader is abusing his/her authority or doing something illegal, God does not expect us to participate in a cover up or go along with a leader who is leading unjustly. But if you find yourself in a similar situation to the one I experienced, you need to make it right. God’s blessing flows when we submit to spiritual leadership. Don’t underestimate the power of submitting to spiritual authority.

If you do not believe me, go ahead and try it your way. Let me know how that works out for you.

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