Submission

Most of us don’t like the word ‘submission’. It’s often thought of as a sign of weakness, of constraint, or worse still, subjugation. But mutual submission is actually an important key to building a strong team.

A long time ago, I thought that if I ever got to the top of the pyramid, I would be able to do whatever I wanted. I wouldn’t have to answer to anyone. My organisation would be blessed to experience my leadership in all its unbridled glory. They will finally see my decision making prowess – completely unfiltered.

Over the years, though, I’ve learned two profound truths. First: no one really ever gets to the top of the pyramid. They might get there organisationally, but they will still have weaknesses in areas where someone else has the strength.

Second: even if you get to the top of pyramid, in an ultimate twist of irony, you ultimately have to become answerable to the base.

So the sooner we learn how to submit to each other, the better leaders and teammates we will become.

Paul says this in Philippians 2:1-4:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Humility; valuing others above yourself; recognising that you can’t do it on your own. These are the hallmarks of an effective team.

As a worship leader, even though I set the vision and direction of the worship set, I often have to choose whether to override others, or to submit to my team. Sometimes my music director makes a call in our in-ear monitors that I might not agree with. In a split second, the musos have acknowledged the instruction and have locked in. The call isn’t a bad one. It’s just not one that I prefer. Do I disrupt the flow and possibly cause a musical train wreck, or do I submit to my music director?

We need to create an empowering culture in our teams where each person is valued as a contributor. Where the keyboardist might have something to say to the drummer, where the guitarist can make suggestions to the singers. Where worship leaders don’t feel like they have to be responsible for everything. Such a team dynamic creates a sense of individual ownership!

Incidentally, do you know that even God submits to us?

Luke 2:51 says that the boy Jesus ‘continued in subjection to’ Mary and Joseph. But when the time came, when Jesus began his ministry, the tables turned. In John 2, at the wedding feast in Cana, they had run out of wine. Mary’s instruction to the stewards was: ‘do whatever Jesus tells you’.

Think about this: every week in our Sunday services, we tell God that he is to subject himself to our programs and format. He’s only got 25 minutes to move during the music time. He is to speak to us during the sermon. Yet God willingly constrains Himself to our directives.

But I believe one day revival will come, the presence of God will be manifest powerfully, when we are finally bold enough to trust him fully, to say ‘God, we will do whatever you say’.

We had a glimpse of this recently when our church had its Season of Prayer. It was more a series of worship meetings than prayer meetings. We just worshipped and let the Spirit lead us into prayer and ministry. On the second night, someone released a word about stepping out in faith. And one person responded by taking the ultimate step: a lady who wasn’t a Christian said she wanted to take the step to receive Christ into her life. In a prayer meeting! It was like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14 when even seekers will say, in the midst of prophecy, that God is really among us.

So let’s continue to practise mutual submission, but above all, let’s continue to humble our hearts in ultimate submission to God.

Set List – Faith Community Church (18 May 2014)

At Faith Community Church, we are about to enter into a Season of Prayer where the theme will be hosting God’s presence.

I’m reading a fantastic book about the Holy Spirit at the moment called Holy Fire by RT Kendall. Kendall is a conservative reformed pastor (he was pastor of Westminster Chapel for 25 years in London) who has embraced¬†the charismactic.

I am privileged to be part of a church that is full of the Word of God. We get great solid expository teaching every week. But I can tell you that without the power of the Holy Spirit, great teaching doesn’t change lives and impact our communities. AW Tozer once said: “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 per cent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference”. What a scary thought! ¬†What about in your own life? It’s a trap that’s easy to fall into. If you are successful at work, or at uni, or in ministry, let me ask you this: is it because of your intellect, your talent, your character? or did the Spirit of God have something to do with it?

These last few weeks have been really challenging for me and it’s been hard to feel rested. And at the same time, as I’ve been reading about the Holy Spirit, I feel a growing hunger for more of Him. Isaiah 62 says that sometimes God leads us into desert places so that He can speak tenderly to us. Sometimes difficult times and struggles are actually a grace from God.

Kendall says in his book “Could it be that God is calling you to bear a stigma – all for a greater measure of the Holy Spirit? How far are you willing to go in your commitment to Jesus Christ? Yes, God often uses hardships to prepare ordinary Christians for an extraordinary destiny”.

So this week’s songs are about God’s presence and His Spirit upon us. In particular, we are doing a new song called “Leave Me Astounded” by Planetshakers.

I actually haven’t been listening to Planetshakers for a while, but last year, I visited another church and they did this song which really blew me away. I resonated with the lyrics about “waiting in worship” for God; pleading for “heaven to invade earth”; and His “showing off His glory”. So we’re going to do it this week as the church moves into a Season of Prayer.

Here’s the songlist:

// Hosanna (Praise is Rising) (G)

// You’ll Come (E)

// Leave Me Astounded (E)

// Hosanna (Be Lifted Higher (E-F-G)

Let’s keep hungering for more!