I have always wanted to be in charge. I get uncomfortable watching home videos from my childhood because I can see the roots of my pride, entitlement and selfishness play out as I watch little Kyle work as hard as he can to control the room.
My father wanted control. So did my father’s father. The desire for control travels all the way back to the first father. Staring at a tree, silent in the face of a serpent, Adam stood flatfooted as his wife listened to deceptive words and shared the forbidden fruit. He wanted control. So, he took it… or so he thought.
By seizing what he believed would make him more like God, the image of God was fractured. He reached out for autonomy, control that was not his to have. And in the act, Adam fell under the control of an evil master.
I was born into this world, as were you, longing for control and independence. Then God stepped in and saved me. He replaced a hard heart with a heart of flesh. He made me clean and gave me the gift of faith to trust in His control. Now, I am learning to submit. I am, as the old song sings, “prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love.” But I was made to submit, made to be free by shackling myself to Him, who is the freedom for which I long (Rom. 6:16).
As a Christian man, I am learning to trade autonomy for submission, fighting to reverse my tendency to grasp for the same false freedom Adam craved. I am learning to submit to these grace-granted bonds:
1. The Lordship of Christ
Christ is Lord over everything. This means that He is the rightful and righteous ruler of the entire world, including one of the most reckless forces around us—the heart. Every day, I have to come to Christ and say, “Not my will, but your will be done.”
The battle for my heart is fierce because the scars of sin still sting. My mind races forward, attempting to gain control, forgetting that the control I seek will destroy me. But by the grace of God, I am learning to submit to Christ’s authority as I attempt to take every thought captive to obey His commands (2 Cor. 10:5).
2. The Authority of God’s Word
As my sin creeps deeper within, I begin to rationalize my attempts for control. I point to how much smoother life would be if I could control the money, the body or the situations God has entrusted to my care. Yet, Hebrews 4:12 reminds me that the “word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit…and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Learning to submit to the authority of God’s Word involves reading His Word, meditating on it and living a life that is obedient to what it commands. Sometimes it tastes sweet and sometimes my sin turns the taste bitter, but it is always true.
3. The Godly Wisdom of My Leaders
In no other circumstance does my sinful desire for complete control rear its ugly head more than when I seek to submit to the wisdom of those who have been set apart to lead me. In my mind, I always know better, know more or know why. Whether it be those who work in authority over me, my parents or my group leader, I find it difficult to actively submit myself to the wisdom of other Godly men and women.
God’s Word says in Hebrews 13:17 that I should “obey my leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over my soul, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
I am a man learning to submit. Christian men are not fit to lead until they have learned to submit to the Lordship of Christ, the authority of God’s Word and the godly wisdom of their leaders. The beauty of submission is not found in the act of submitting, but in the Savior to whom I submit—a sweet submission to a sweeter Savior.