It is difficult to submit to the leadership of someone you do not respect. I think this has always been a challenge for me, but in this current season of my life, God has really been highlighting this troublesome area. I will spare you the details of what happens within my soul when a person who does not follow the rules they set forth corrects me. Let’s just say that there is a fire blazing within. Now, please understand that I have made many mistakes as a leader myself, so I am far from perfect. My pride often keeps me from empathizing or sympathizing with someone who is a leader and instead I become rebellious. I go through a dialogue in my mind and I began to envision myself saying, “Why are you all of a sudden coming down on me, when what you are trying to correct now is something you should have been in effect from the very beginning?" I know that it is not a nice way of thinking, but it is real. I believe that we have all been in this position before. At least, I know I have...so many times that I cannot even count them all.
This sinful mindset really started to bother me, and I had to call on God to show me very clearly how this wrongful way of thinking was hindering my relationship with Him. I told God that I knew this really needed to change, but I could not do it without His help. I decided to take a walk and I began to pray. As I did, these feelings of anger began to flood my mind. I was able to see, in the moment, how there were so many emotions rooted in a deep frustration because I was holding onto so many hurts from the past. The times that I felt disrespected, taken advantage of, humiliated, rejected, and dismissed all appeared before me. I was so overwhelmed by these feelings that I had to ask God to grab a hold of my mind. I felt like I was on a mental roller coaster that was altering my mood.
Before God took over, I had this desire for the people in my life to feel the hurt that I felt. The mind can sometimes be a dangerous place; it can be a playground for idol amusement or recreation, carrying out the violent rages, impulses, and urges of your heart. I knew it was unhealthy for me to be so angry. These upsets became complex very quickly in my mind. That was, at least, until I heard God say, “You are not to submit to them, you are to submit to me.” I kept hearing this over and over again. In those few moments, God showed me how I was taking everything personally.
I was trying to submit to imperfect leadership, expecting these imperfect people to be our perfect God.
Through a daily devotional of mine, God shared with me that submission is not just for some, it is for all. I am not to submit myself to a person, but rather, in all I do, I am to give everything to Him.
Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:20-21 ESV)
I did not realize how much the rebellion in my heart—directed toward those who hurt me —had steered me away from God.
“Submission is not slavery.” -James McDonald
The truth in the quote stated above shed light on the fact that I was really enslaved by hurt, rebellion, pride, anger, and selfishness. These things were dictating many of the choices and decisions I made pertaining to people and God. This sinful state kept me isolated because I was afraid of being hurt. Even now, God is stretching, testing, and demanding something different of me during this new season of my life. I believe these hurts played a large role in the suppression of my desires to be married and have a family. Rebellion carries over into so many areas of our lives.
I am not telling anyone to stay in a situation or relationship where someone is abusive or enslaving you. No one should be forcing you to do anything. What I am saying is that when we truly love God, our hearts delight in Him and desire to do and act in ways that reflect His love. If we have faith in God, then what we do daily will reflect this.
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (James 2:26 ESV)
Our faith and love for God can never be apart from our actions. Sanctification is a daily process. As we allow the word of God to permeate our hearts throughout our dwelling, our lives, as well as the lives of those around us will forever be changed...all because of a willingness shown to abide in Him.
The only way this change can take place is by allowing the love we have for Christ to order our steps daily. Do not submit to people, dear sisters. Submit to God.