Despite what the world may think, there is nothing weak in being strong in the spiritual discipline of submission. However, it is one of the most difficult disciplines to practice. We want to be independent and strong, and we don’t want people to walk all over us. An important part of developing the spiritual discipline of submission is to balance when to be open and humble with knowing when not to let people take advantage of us.
Submission Means Being Accountable
As Christians, we are accountable to God. We know that we should confess our sins to Him and that He sees all that we do. Yet, we are also accountable to others around us. We know when we don’t turn in an assignment we will receive an F. We know if we don’t show up to practice, we won’t play in the game…let alone still be on the team.
We will be held accountable for our actions. The same can be said with our faith. We are accountable for our actions in relation to our faith. Outsiders look at us and our actions and develop an opinion on God based on what we do. We need to be submissive to God’s rule to be good examples to others and to please Him.
Hebrews 13:17 – “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” (NLT)
Submission Means Being Open to Direction
In allowing ourselves to be accountable, we also become more open to direction. Taking criticism well is difficult, which is why this is the spiritual discipline of submission. It takes effort to take criticism well. It’s far easier to be defensive and dismissive of what we’re being told is wrong. Yet when someone has developed the spiritual discipline of submission they are able to not only take criticism and direction well, but they actually remain open to it.
Proverbs 28:13-14 – “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.” (NLT)
What Do We Get Out of Being Submissive
When we practice the spiritual discipline of submission we learn more about ourselves, we become far more patient, we learn humility, and we understand how to be honest with others and ourselves. By allowing ourselves to be accountable and open to direction we become stronger in our faith, because we no longer have to hide our weaknesses from others. We are able to listen to others with minds that are open, and we break the cycle of always thinking of ourselves first. When we learn to be submissive, we learn to put ourselves in God’s hands far more, which allows us to build our relationship with Him.
1 Peter 5:6-7 – “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (NLT)
Putting the Spiritual Discipline of Submission Into Practice
Saying we’re going to be more submissive is fine, but putting it into action is a whole other thing. Here are ways you can develop this spiritual discipline:
-Hold your tongue. Take a moment before you speak to actually listen and absorb what others are telling you.
-Be discerning. Don’t confuse submission in a spiritual sense with allowing people to take advantage of you. Before you do what others tell you, weigh it against the Bible.
-Take yourself less seriously. Yes, we all want it our way, but ask yourself if it’s the end of the world if you try someone else’s idea.
-Look at how you think. If you find yourself having difficulties with being submissive, try looking at why. When do you get angry? When are you most resistant? Ask God to see inside yourself more clear.
-Take a few hours to be fully submissive (yet also be discerning and reasonable) to everyone around you. No matter what, put aside your needs or feelings for a few hours.