Submission has never been my strength. I don’t necessarily mind people telling me what to do. I just like to choose whom I submit to. Imagine the condition of my heart when reading 1 Peter 2:13, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men.…” The verse does not allow me to say who, when, or where, it says submit to every authority. Suffice to say, I was not ready to receive this truth. Frankly, I took a real issue with this command. Considering some of the leadership I have worked under, I had a difficult time comprehending how I was supposed to obey this directive.
At the time this was written, people were serving under leadership harsher than anything I can fathom, and God’s command to them was to submit. God said that ultimately every authority is established by him and submitting to your leader is a matter of obedience.
For the past month, I have been doing a study of 1 Peter and when I came to 2:13 All I could think was, “How?” Submitting to someone you love, comes with its own set of challenges. Submitting to someone you dislike, can feel impossible. But the beautiful thing about God is that He is constantly revealing himself to his children. He does not leave them in the dark. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you,” Matthew 7:7.
“Submission has to do with order and authority, not evaluation,” wrote Warren Wiersbe in Be Hopeful a Bible Study of 1 Peter. This line opened the heavens for me. I had it wrong all these years. I thought that if God placed you in a leadership position, it was because you were the best, you deserved it, and you were inspiring. One needn’t look far to see that that is not true. I had enormous difficulty reconciling this command and those I saw in leadership positions. But how I serve my leader, is a reflection of who I am as a subordinate. When God gives a command, He is aware of every circumstance surrounding the command, yet the command remains the same. My responsibility is to entrust all that I am to the God I serve.
If your boss is not asking you to do anything illegal, reprehensible, or in direct conflict with your morals and you are having a difficult time submitting, then the problem is not him or her, it’s you.
Submission is hard. It takes jabs at our pride. And at times, it can leave us feeling defeated. But submission is not defeat! In fact, it's victory. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18. Obeying God’s word will always cost something. Here I am approaching my 33rd year of life, and I am just grasping the basics.
There are many people serving under oppressive leaders, and I understand. Wiersbe wrote, “…the human tendency is to fight back and demand our rights. But that is the natural response of the unsaved person…. Anybody can fight back; it takes a Spirit-filled Christian to submit and let God fight his battles.” Injustices are my Achilles heel. I didn’t want to wait on the Lord. I want justice now. The problem here is that by doing this I am standing in judgment of God’s Word. My blatant disobedience communicates disrespect and immaturity. Wiersbe is right, it takes real courage to look in the eyes of someone who is doing you wrong, say nothing, and actively choose to wait on the Lord. Wiersbe went on to say, “Our Lord’s humility and submission were not evidence of weakness, but of power.”
Jesus had real power when he came here to earth. He could have just as easily have had the place destroyed but instead, he chose to submit and endure.
The real leader is Jesus. He has laid before us an impeccable example of how to submit to God’s authority. All we need do is follow Him.