(based on Josh De Koning’s sermon at Crossway Bible Church, May 13th, 2018)
We must respond to the authorities that have been placed in our life, in a way that glorifies God. Children honor their parents by obeying them, employees submit to their boss by acting on expectations, Christians respect their elders by hearing their mature counsel. People ‘above’ us have been given the responsibility to lead; simultaneously, by submitting, we are serving Christ through obedience to the Scriptures.
“… Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” – Ephesians 5:21
When God’s order reigns in our homes, our jobs and our churches, there is less chaos and more unity. When we know that we must submit, and we do so in reverence to Christ, our self is in less conflict with those around us. Through submission to an authority figure, we can connect to a much deeper purpose – that of submitting to Christ Himself who is the ultimate authority over all of us.
Does this mean that everyone must submit to everybody all the time? No, it doesn’t. There are relationships of authority. We don’t submit to all men, but only the ones who have been placed in our life for such a purpose. Similarly, leaders do not have all people under their authority, but only the ones appointed to them.
Leading carries with is some serious responsibilities, which may be why some shy away from it altogether. But it is the call of a parent to take charge instead of allowing children to make decisions that they aren’t equipped to handle. Just as much as children must respond to parental authority, it is the duty of a parent to exercise their parental authority.
The temptation can be to be harsh and abusive, but authority that is rightly exercised is good and a benefit to all.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” – Ephesians 6:4
Some leadership guidelines are to:
- Demonstrate humble love by repenting to those we’ve hurt.
- Take the time to ‘explain’ expectations.
- Create an environment of accountability towards a spouse, elders or colleagues.
- Check your ego at the door.
- Talk motives rather than actions.
Ultimately, we put God on display when we obey to authority or when we exercise authority. In order to grow in these, we must stop fighting with flesh and blood (with each other) and unite to fight spiritual forces of evil instead (Ephesians 6:12).