So, I want to share with you today about the one principle that will allow you to have powerful and effective ministry and not burn out in the process.
Wanna know what it is?
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. That’s it?
Well, yeah. It’s in your submission that God is glorified, that you’re used, that your soul is refreshed.
But, let’s be honest. This is probably one of the hardest words for us to swallow in scripture. But, it’s the call that each of us has that identify as a disciple of Jesus, or as a leader in the kingdom of heaven.
Here’s the deal. When we surrender ourselves to God and receive salvation, we give up our autonomy. Jesus made it so clear in scripture that we must choose deny ourselves in order to follow. This means that we submit ourselves, in every area of our lives to the will and way of God, who is our father.
Submission Starts In the Heart and Mind
If you look at the history of the Church, and the stories of the great heroes of our faith in scripture, we see that God works in and through those who are willing to submit themselves to God. It’s the people who allow God to work, that are the ones through whom He works.
Long before an outward expression of submission is made, there is an inward intention of submission. A decision. A posture of the heart. A commitment of the will.
By this, I mean that in following Jesus, and yes, even in Church leadership, it can be easy to slip into thinking that it’s all about the behavior. It can appear that we’re submitted to the rule of Christ, but in our hearts we can be enacting our own rule.
Remember in the beatitudes, Jesus reveals that murder and adultery begin in the heart. What happens in the heart can go totally unnoticed by the world around you. But, what happens in your heart postures your to either allow Jesus to rule your life… or not.
I think this is one of the reasons why we see so many leaders struggle with impostor syndrome. In ministry, or on any (even moderately public platform) There becomes an external pressure to act in a way that isn’t congruent with what’s on the inside.
There’s a disconnect.
And in a fear that we’ll be exposed, we often bolster up the public persona without dealing with the heart.
What’s that do? It leaves leaders feeling increasingly empty, lost… fake.
Maybe you can identify with this. I know I can. Especially when I was early in ministry. I actually quit vocational ministry for a season at one point because I couldn’t live with the disconnect. But, I had allowed there to become a massive gap between the exterior and interior of my life.
On the outside, I looked like the most submitted person to the reign of God. I was a professional Christian, working for the church… but on the inside, I was the ruler of my life. I was managing my pain, my public persona, my plans for every day. I had forgotten my calling to truly submit my life to Jesus.
If you’ve ever been there, you know that it’s incredibly exhausting to build your own kingdom and be your own ruler.
Remember, Jesus said that He came to bring abundant life. That comes when we trade our rule and reign for that of Jesus.
It’s Because of God’s Love
God longs for our absolute submission to Him not because He wants to dominate us. If that was the case, He wouldn’t give us freewill. He longs for it, because He loves us.
Submission necessitates a recognition of who God is and who we are. He’s Lord. We’re not. It’s an incredibly humbling realization. And God loves to use those who are humble in heart. Humble people recognize that they cannot manage on their own, but God can. They recognize that their gifts are better used in the hands of God almighty than in their hands. And humble people see that when their lives are submitted to God, no matter what the season or circumstance, God can and will use it.
Sometimes, you may find yourself walking through a season that is tiresome, tedious or taxing and you wonder why. You may want to rush to the next season and hurry toward bigger or better things. However, the tiresome season you’re in now may be a place where God is preparing you for what’s coming. But, for Him to use this season, you have to submit it.
The tedious thing He’s asked you to accomplish now is the training ground for what He will lead you toward. But to get the gleaning He has designed for you in this season is to submit it to Him.
The reality is that in small and quiet moments of submission, you will lay the groundwork for God to be glorified. The formation that God needs to do within you will only happen when you submit to Him. You submit yourself, your resources, your plans and the season you’re in. And as we already discussed, that doesn’t happen by merely putting on a show. It happens in the quiet, often unnoticed recesses of your heart.
The truth is that until we submit what we have to God- all of our gifts, dreams, desires and we choose to walk faithfully with him today- then we are not ready for God to move through us in bigger ways.
To submit to God, it might mean that He may lead you to unlikely places, conversations or ministry appointments. And, when you submit who you are and what you have to God, your life might now look like what you’ve expected … In the end though, it will look better. Because through submission, you are positioning yourself under the leadership of Christ and allowing Him to truly work through your life.
God doesn’t call us to do grand things. He simply calls us to do faithful things.
You and I don’t need to roam the earth attempting to do great things for God but simply do things for a great God. You see, impact and influence comes through the faithful. It through the people who are willing to constantly give God what they have that He works so evidently. To faithfully submit the things within yourself to His use in His timing and His power opens the door for Him to work through you and in you and ultimately transform you into the likeness of Christ Himself.
I want to get really practical here for you.
It’s one thing to talk about submitting who you are and what you have to Jeusus and it’s another thing to actually do it. So, let’s talk about How To Submit.
Make the Choice
You and I may not have control over much in life, but we do have control over our choices. And our choices are not just about our actions. They begin with our mind and our heart.
And we have the ability to choose where they are directed and what they’re fixed on. In scripture, we’re called to set our mind on things that are above, to let not our hearts be troubled, which indicates we can direct our hearts. We’re to take our thoughts captive and choose who we will serve.
Submission then, begins with the choice. We chose to submit in salvation, and the choice only becomes more intentional and sacrificial as we mature in our faith. Submitting requires that we chose to surrender our will for the will of the Father.
I’m reminded of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He utters the incredible prayer to the Father. “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Wow. That’s willful submission. Jesus chose to surrender himself to the Father, to be used by Him, to lay down His preferences for that of the Father. And that was made possible because He chose within Himself to submit.
You have the same opportunity and responsibility. To really follow Jesus, and to lead others to do the same means that you choose to submit.
This second way of how to submit is huge. Worship reframes everything because in worship, we ascribe worth to God.
Far too often, what we do is we spend a lot of energy talking ourselves up, talking up our problems, talking up the situations we find ourselves in. We worship ourselves, our problems, our situations. And worship bends your will toward the thing you’ve given worth.
Think of when David fought Goliath. He was submitted to the will of God, and God worked through Him in a powerful way. But, that didn’t come out of nowhere. For years, He had been in the field, tending to the sheep. He would look up at the stars and see the grandeur of the one who hung them there. He would defeat the lion and bear that would try to snatch his sheep and he knew the strength of the God who had rescued Him.
I could walk through so many stories of biblical characters that were used by God because they were worshipers of God. Worship of God bends our will to God and also puts everything else in perspective.
Submission to God is not the natural tendency for any of us. But, much like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the more your response time quickens and the more you recognize the faithfulness and nearness of God in the midst of it.
For me, I recognize that this has been the situation. I tend to be very independent. When I was a new to really taking my faith seriously, I would cringe any time anyone brought up the word submission.
And even when I was new in ministry, there would be a little part of me that just resisted the idea. I’ll tell you this, though. You cannot grow as a follower of Jesus or a leader until you learn to truly and quickly submit to God.
I find that in order for me to consistently and intentionally practice submission, I need to cultivate rhythms that prompt me to do so.
Submission Is For All
As a reminder, this isn’t just applicable for those who are new Christians. It’s for all of us. The more we follow Jesus, the deeper and more intimate places in our lives that God will call us to submit.
In His kindness, I’m so grateful that He’s gentle with what he asks of us. But don’t be mistaken, when you come alive in Christ, you’re called to die to your flesh. There is no in between.
So, while God, in His loving kindness, might slowly reveal areas of submission, or invite us to deeper surrender, to follow Jesus elimites our option to maintain control of our lives, reputation, our will.
Wherever it is that you find yourself today, I want to remind you and encourage you that when you submit to the rule of God, as unlikely as life might look, you will find life and rest.
Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Jesus
My prayer for you today is that you learn from Jesus’ humble submission. And that when you do, you find rest for your soul.
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