I like to win. Win arguments, be right, cheer for my winning favorite football team, win games, negotiations….Win. Win. Win. I am very competitive. I recently had a conversation with my husband, who just happens to be my business partner, about a particular transaction. I wanted to do things my way (who doesn’t?) and, of course, he wanted to do things his way. Finally he said, “You obviously want to do it your way, so just go with it, and do it!” I liked winning our “debate”, but I wanted to be respectful of his opinion too. In my heart, I had planned to do it my way anyway, but now I finally had the “go ahead” to do it my way.
As I sat there, ready to make the call that I wanted to make, something didn’t sit right with me. My next thought was “Obey— be obedient to your husband.” God speaking? Maybe. Obedience wouldn’t have been my choice. And so I did—obey, that is. I chose not make the call or forge forward with my agenda. I considered my husband’s opinion and then moved forward with his plan. I practiced the dreaded “S” word—“submit”.
I have to admit that this was just a glimpse of what it means to submit. I don’t know how to completely do it day-in and day-out. Jesus did. He modeled it. He lived it. He always submitted to the Father’s will. So why is this word so dreaded for me? It’s because I am proud, and struggle with pride in my heart. Pride need to be stripped from my heart immediately! It is competitive in nature and leads to power struggles. It eventually makes us stand in opposition against a loving, all-powerful God. The fallen angel wrestled with it and lost the same power struggle. His pride got the best of him.
I learned that when I obey and submit to others, whether it’s a spouse, a co-worker, a friend, a relative…… I am then more readily equipped to obey and submit to God. Jesus submitted to His Father—whom the Bible tells us, He was equal to. If Jesus modeled it, then shouldn’t I? Submitting is not the bad word it has been made out to be. That day, heart in hand, choosing to follow the lead of my husband, my pride lessened just a little. My ability to be obedient to God and others increased. And really, isn’t that how it should be?
I am not suggesting that we submit to every person or situation. If I am asked to do something that I know is wrong or submit to something that goes against what the Word teaches me, then I don’t simply submit. The Greek word for submit is ὑποτάσσω, a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”. Submission is a voluntary attitude, it is a choice! Jesus always chose to submit to the Father. When I grasped this concept, I realized that when I considered my husband’s advice and did not run off on my own devised plan, I found that he had the better approach to this particular business situation. Someone needs to have the casting vote. He always seems to have insight that is without emotion.
As I relinquished my desire to win, I gained a new perspective on the truth underlying the act of submission:
It takes a strong character to submit. Submitting does not mean I am weak or that I lose, it means I am strong and I win! I found myself growing spiritually because I had to harness my pride—the desire to be right, and take control of my will. I chose to submit and when I did, it felt right. I got a brief look at what it meant for Jesus to submit. What I can do is practice—if even in the tiniest way. By this seemingly insignificant act of submitting, I find my heart changed slightly for the better. It shapes my heart to be receptive to serving. Practicing this “S” word helps me to be more like the strong Servant who washed the disciple’s feet.