Submission

6 Sep

I am self-employed. To some people, the first thing that says is I have not been able to work well with others. While others can answer the truth of this far better than I can (and probably will, if asked), I don’t believe that is the defining thing about the self-employed. Nevertheless, I realize that tendency, which I see in myself (and believe is present within us all), to adjust the board to the chips I want to play.

Recently, this line of thinking has come up in a few areas. First, I have been voted in as a deacon at my church. This means getting along with the other leaders and sometimes bending to what others think. Second, I have been asked to run Bible Quiz tournaments with people that live in different states. Some of those organizing with me have not been my choice of people to work with through the years. Finally, some people with whom I work have challenged me to set up completely new ways of accountability within the office.

Lest you believe this to be autobiographical nonsense, I assure you that there is something applicable to us all. You see, while I am relatively certain the specific ways you have been challenged are unique, I know that in this culture, which promotes autonomy so much, your autonomy has been attacked in some way recently.

You see, all of these are lessons in submission. The mere mention of the word “submission” often brings connotations in our culture which are doubtlessly negative, but we know it as a word used in Scripture, most commonly about our relationship with God. This is where I believe the word picture provided by the etymology is tremendous! Sub means to come under (as used in Subway or submarine). Therefore, the word says that we come under God’s mission! What a tremendous gift!

There are so many entities to which we must submit (the country, the church, the family, the boss, to name just a few). Our primary goal is to allow them to accomplish that mission. This is why it is important that even when my children actually do know better than I (yes, it happens to even me) that they learn to come under my mission; it’s training for the rest of their life. The other thing I like about this word picture, it comes with natural parameters. When authoritarian action frustrates purpose, then the action can certainly be outside the realm of submission and starts to become needless rule creation.

Since my wedding to Kelly, I have learned that some people don’t have the same visceral reaction to rules that I do, but attempting to follow a rule that thwarts the mission in question is not submission! For example, if a mission is “Engaging peoples everywhere to pursue ultimate satisfaction in Jesus,” then an attempt by said organization to encourage those within the organization to not engage others is anti-missional. To obey such a rule would be to go against the mission.

This is important when you consider that your call is to submit. I also have become abundantly aware of the fact that working with a group of people involves yielding your own will to come together with the group to which you are submitting. If you are submitted to an entity that you trust, then believing in it more than your own logic is normal and even beneficial. Think about this the next time someone to whom you are called to submit (our country, perhaps) passes some rule that you hate.

It is common for an employee to not grasp the decisions of a boss, but yet doing the work heartily can yield positive circumstances. It is wonderful when actions, despite dissonance, bring about fruit that the employee never imagined! Imagine if a group of people in a church so committed to the vision that they bought in and thereby yielded fruit that most never foresaw! Sometimes I think we’re like this with God. We continually question those things that don’t seem to line up with our preferences or logic, even when God is clear in His word.

This, henceforth, brings it back full circle. As I don’t have that boss who will give me assignments, understood or otherwise, I miss out on that one outlet for submission. What I have learned from being that boss, however, is that having people who submit to you, while more honored culturally is a demoralizing task itself. So, pray for those to whom you submit, then pray for yourself to make sure you are submitting to the correct entities!

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