Submission, especially willing submission, and the persona that embodies a submissive spirit is arguably one of the most difficult things to learn in life. To spend moments, or any singular moment for that matter, in any manner where we are not in control is antithetical to the idea of thriving in life. “It’s a dog eat dog world…” is a phrase I can remember hearing often in my younger days. Looking at popular culture, it seems the only way to guarantee survival at the,least and the ability to thrive at the best, is to find ways to promote “#1.” Unfortunately, it seems,that this attitude has found its way into the church in some ways too. And I can’t stress this enough, submission is core to the gospel of Jesus Christ. To remove a submissive spirit from the Christian walk is to remove the nature of Jesus’ purpose on this earth. It’s right there in Luke. And we’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but how often does it influence our day in and day out thinking and decision making?
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
Submission is at the heart of the gospel because Jesus is the gospel and the greatest thing He did was submit to the cross… because God the Father asked Him to. Jesus gave Himself up to death in order to find life. So simple, yet so easily missed. See, the great paradox of the gospel of Jesus is that true freedom cannot be found until liberty is lost.
“So yeah yeah… submit to God and Jesus, we get it,” is what we as worship leaders seem to say though. I have heard through the “church pipeline” (read: haven’t actually read the studies) that say the average tenure of Creative staff has fallen to around 18 months. 18 months? Is 18 months even long enough to introduce yourself? One of the growth points for the church is to see those who steward souls to the throne room to learn that submission is where the heart of worship lies. And in finding that truth, the church becomes a force too strong to toss aside and dismiss.
For me I guess the horror of the the 18 month number comes when I compare that to my children. 18 months is just enough time to teach them to walk, feed themselves, and maybe, if we’re lucky, to not have to change a diaper any more. But to think of and look to these, arguably good milestones, as maturity is to fail to understand that the best days of life and greater achievements come far after 18 months. It seems, and this is a large assumption to be sure, that a failure to submit could be the core of the 18 month dilemma. And while it may be an issue of submission to God… let’s think of Jonah there, more often than not it’s probably a lack of submission to earthly authority.
I’m not sitting here attempting to preach to or at anyone. In fact, I write this in this moment because I’ve had to learn the hard way. I write this as a way to teach myself and I want to let you in on it. I write this as a declaration of submission to the authority that God has placed over me. Now the task is to give action to words. As a good friend Heath Bottomly has recently stated, “The very decision to choose what is best over what is easiest is often widely agreed with but very difficult to live out…” I am firm believer that the church does not need another voice telling her what is wrong with her. She doesn’t need someone else to say that she wears too much make-up, her hips are too big, her clothing doesn’t look holy enough, etc. She just needs to be reminded what Jesus called her… beautiful, valuable, worth submitting to death for. As worship leaders we can call out of the bride the compassion, strength, wisdom and courage that God built into her heart on Calvary, but only when we learn to “deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him [to calvary].” We demonstrate our submission to God’s authority in our lives, and in turn teach people to do the same, when we show the fruit of that submission in placing ourselves willingly under our Senior Pastor, Executive Pastor, and/or leadership board(s).
In a call to action for us, over the next month take time every day to pray this prayer: “Jesus, I’m not really sure I know what pure submission looks like. And I know that the best possible practice in learning anything is to seek the source. I know you’re the source of submission so I need your help in developing a submissive heart. Guide me through your Holy Spirit to your Word and give me opportunities to practice a submissive and humble presence every day. In all things to You be the glory and honor. Let my submission bring Your glory to this earth. I pray these things with the most submissive spirit I can muster right now. Work through me. Amen.”