Scripture tells me to submit to God. In other words, let God be boss.
But isn’t submission for wimps? I don’t want to be wimpy.
I want to be strong and brave and powerful and driven and energetic and more like a roaring lion than a clueless sheep.
Here’s the good news: Submission isn’t wimpy or weak. It’s not sluggish or passive or ignorant.
It’s lively and resolute, diligent and dynamic.
In fact, submitting to God may be the hardest, bravest, most lion-like thing some people ever do in life.
We confuse submission with defeat like it’s a failure to be ashamed of.
Quite the opposite.
Submission is active. It’s punching, kicking, and pushing the devil out of your life. And it’s putting on your spiritual hiking boots and following Jesus on whatever adventure He’s got planned next.
Submission is rad. (Repeat that again and again.) Submission is rad.
What Does It Mean to Submit My Will to God’s Will?
In a certain sense, my will is my wiring. It’s my default mode of operations. I make a beeline to that thing I want. And I take the path of least resistance.
I’m asking God to disconnect that default wiring and plug me straight into the Holy Ghost GPS. (We’re on an adventure in the great wide, remember? We need directions.)
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray to God the Father, He said, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:10).
In heaven, whatever God says goes, period. He says, “Sunshine” and the clouds part. He says, “Sing” and the angels harmonize. I want my heart to be a little heaven like that. Whatever God says goes.
Submission is a two-part thing.
Part 1 is the willingness to submit to God.
Part 2 is resisting the devil.
(Thank you, James 4:7.)
Romans 6:12-13 helps me out, too. It basically says that I either yield to sin or to God. Either way, I’m yielding.
It’s a mistake to think that I’m somehow “stronger” if I resist or reject God. In reality, I’m far stronger when I’m giving Satan the stay-away one-two-punch.
Mosiah 3:19 reinforces this for me, too. I have to “yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit,” but I also have to “put off the natural man.”
That’s saying, “Okay, God. You’re the leader. I’ll follow you.” While at the same time saying, “My wiring is working against me. I’m gonna fight it until my neurons have blazed a new trail. Till following God is my new default, my new path of least resistance.”
Why Is Submitting to God So Hard?
Well, there’s the whole “rewiring the default” concept. That doesn’t happen overnight.
Beyond that, submitting to God isn’t “a thing.” There’s not alotta support out there for it or much modeling for submission. But there’s plenty of modeling for “do your own thing.” We love doing our own thing.
Some of us are attracted to the rugged individualist or lone wolf. Just leave me alone to do my own thing. I won’t bother you. You don’t bother me. Have a nice life.
Others are more keen on the idea of being a “boss.” Girl boss. Mom boss. Like a boss. World’s best boss. If you don’t have a mug or tumbler with the word “boss” on it, I’ll buy you lunch. (Go check. You’ve got one.)
Bottom line: We don’t want to be accountable to anyone. In any relationship. Period.
Since the world ain’t gonna model submission for me, I need scripture to unlock this forgotten art.
What Do I Need to Submit To?
The simplest answer: God and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus gave two commandments—love God and your neighbor with everything you’ve got. Those need to be the twin North Stars that guide my life. When I get lost in the weeds and don’t know what to do, then I need that Holy Ghost GPS to guide me in those pesky details that aren’t explicitly covered in God’s Word.
But wait. Does scripture give specific guidance regarding submission?
Glad you asked! While reading on this subtopic, I discovered that there are a few specific things that scripture explicitly asks me to submit to.
- Christ as head of the church (Eph. 5:24, Eph. 1:22-23, Col. 1:18)
- Church leaders as shepherds (Heb. 13:17, 1 Cor. 16:15-16, 1 Thes. 5:12-15)
- The authority of scripture to guide my actions (Josh. 1:7-8, Ps. 119:133, Jam. 1:22-25)
- My brothers and sisters as equals (Eph. 5:21)
- Burdens that Christ sees fit to allow (2 Cor. 12:7, Mosiah 24:15)
So, I need to ask myself how well I’m doing in all these areas.
- Do I recognize Christ as the leader of The Church of Jesus Christ? Or do I trust too much in certain leaders?
- Do I help support the ministry by praying for and building up my brothers and volunteering to assist where I can? Or do I tear them down with critique and complaints?
- Do I live a life that blatantly (or subtly) contradicts the commandments in scripture?
- Regarding my brothers and sisters, am I quick to make amends, prefer them first, give them the benefit of the doubt? Or do I secretly think I’m “better” than them?
- Do I whine about my trials and seek pity? Or do I give thanks despite the struggles?
Sobering questions for me.
There’s another aspect of submission that I found in scripture, and that’s submission in specific relationships. Ready? Here they are.
- Citizens to government – Ro. 13:1-7, Mt. 22:21, Tit. 3:1, Alma 17
- Wives to husbands – Eph. 5:22-24, Col. 3:18, 1 Pe. 3:1
- Children to parents – Eph. 6:1-3, Col. 3:20
- Young to old – 1 Pe. 5:5, Lev. 19:32
- Servants to masters – Eph. 6:5-8, Col. 3:22-24, 1 Pe. 2:18
These are power relationships, folks, and they make me uncomfortable. You? The indoctrination of the modern world has made these scriptural truths unpalatable. We collectively recoil.
Yet, these truths lead to human flourishing when they’re rendered as God intended. (Too often, we see only the perversions of these relationships, so we throw the baby out with the bathwater.)
The gospel is order, not disorder.
Peace, not chaos.
Spiritual revelation, not political revolution.
When I, as a follower of Jesus, focus on radically changing my heart, really loving others, and submitting in these relationships, then I can make a real change, a life-giving impact. And all glory goes to God where it belongs.
Submission praises and honors God. It testifies of God.
(Want proof? I found it here: Titus 2:4-5 and 9-10 and 1 Pe. 2:13.)
When I let go of my stubborn will, then my hands are free to cling to Jesus with one and punch the devil away with the other.
Next Friday: Denying My Pride (to Gain Awe and Wonder)
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.