There is no such thing as a perfect leader.
Every leader has their fair share of strengths and weaknesses.
We live in a world that is driven by performance and rewards its presence while punishing its absence. This gives rise to a prevalent heart posture towards leadership: To the degree I think you’re a good leader, I will respect and follow you.
Many have used this to justify their disdain and dishonor of those in authority in the workplace because it’s easier to tear apart the flaws of another than to admit one’s own shortcomings.
It’s one thing for a non-believer to do that; but it’s telling that so many believers live this way given that our standards are so different – a complete antithesis even – from those of the world.
We are the Body of Christ. Jesus is our Head, our Leader. The One who we get our example of life from.
Yet, what made Jesus such an amazing Leader is that He was first a follower of the Father. Even though He could easily have equated Himself with the rest of the Trinity by virtue of still being God on earth, He would only do and say that which came from the Father. He was fully submitted to the counsel of the Trinity and never deviated from it, even when things got hard.
Anyone can submit to those they consider to be a good leader. But it takes revelation to submit to a leader who is unfavourable towards you, whose character is wanting, whose flaws are glaringly in your face.
It takes humility to be a follower. To serve under someone else’s vision. Unfortunately, many of us have collapsed humility with humiliation yet the two couldn’t be more different from each other.
To be humble means you have an accurate estimation of yourself and those you’re relating with (your leaders). An accurate estimation best comes from the Holy Spirit not self. Because self will always seek to elevate itself above all else. But the Holy Spirit is the revealer of wholesome truth to our spirits.
Submission to leadership doesn’t mean you ignore what is wrong. It changes how you acknowledge and address what’s off while you amplify and strengthen what is right.
Submission (sub-mission) – under the same mission
– Lisa Bevere
Submission to Christ
Many of us as believers are keen to lead and make our mark on the world for Christ but we have yet to grasp what it truly means to submit to leadership.
In all honesty, we’re terrible followers, which is ironic because in essence, being a disciple of Christ is essentially supposed to mean we are His followers who are supposed to raise and train others to follow Him.
We want Jesus as our Saviour but we want nothing to do with His Lordship. Because that would mean that we surrender our right to do whatever we want whenever we want.
We trust our ability to make the best decisions for ourselves over Christ’s ability to lead us to where we need to be.
We transfer our know-it-all attitude to the authority in our lives, in this case, in the workplace. It’s astounding just how much as believers we disassociate spiritual things from workplace – the environment we spend most of our time in.
Submission is first an issue of the heart. We can do and say all the “right” things but if our hearts are against the very things we’re saying/doing and against Christ and the leaders we’re serving under, then we’re not truly in submission.
If we cannot submit to Christ, who is as perfect an authority as we’ll ever come by, how then can we presume to submit to fallible human beings?
Learning to submit to human authority starts with learning to submit to Christ. It is when we are submitted to Him that we are empowered and enabled to submit one to another in a context that is healthy and fruitful for all involved.
Submission to Human Authority
As believers we deal with two kinds of authority. Those who are submitted to Christ and those who are not.
Just because a leader says they’re Christian or that they believe in God doesn’t automatically mean they’re submitted to Christ. The easiest way to tell the difference is to check the fruit in their lives. If they are producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, then they are led by Christ. If not, well, someone or something else is enthroned in their hearts.
If at all you have followed the leading of Christ to be in your current workplace, then it means that God has intentionally allowed you to be under the authority of those you work under. Even if they are non-believers.
It is folly to think that because someone isn’t a believer or who you want them to be they are not and/or cannot be used of God. Yet Scripture is full of multiple examples where God used leaders while they still had no faith in Him to do His purpose.
Some of us struggle to submit to our workplace leaders because we have no honour for them. We have no honour for them because we have no revelation of them. The degree to which you have revelation of a leader, is the degree to which you will honour and submit to them.
Revelation is not just mere facts and information. It is spiritual insight about who a person is and why they are in your life, and you in theirs; it is knowing the purpose of God in your relationship.
One of the key divine functions of leadership is to sharpen your character. There are times God intentionally allows you to work under a leader who you find difficult to relate with in one way or another because He is dealing with your character and heart. They are the proverbial thorn in your flesh that causes there to be growth in your spirit.
Now, submission doesn’t mean doing something wrong and/or harmful or allowing it to happen because it originates from your leader. As believers, we must take a stand for what is right, but we must do so with wisdom. We must do so with humility. Doing the right thing full of pride will only ever yield spiritual fruit that glorifies the flesh not the Spirit of God.
When you’re relating with your leaders devoid of revelation, it’s easy to succumb to fear on one extreme or pride on the other. Fear to speak up and play an active role in the mission you’re both on and pride that rejects rebuke and correction and hinders admittance that you’re the one on the wrong and you really could be and do better if you tried.
Dealing with authority figures who are truly submitted to Christ is somewhat more straightforward because if a leader and their followers are united in their submission to Christ, then they are essentially on the same frequency of things.
Even when disagreements or differences arise, when both parties fall back on Christ not their sense of self-righteousness (right standing with self), the Holy Spirit recalibrates their hearts and brings them back on the same page. This is what the kingdom leadership-follower dynamic is supposed to look like.
The wonder of submission is that even when dealing with a non-believer in leadership, God can use your honour for them and Him to disarm their hard stances. You’d be surprised what powerful weapons humility and honour are.
What kind of follower are you?
Are you the kind you would want to lead?
Because whatever you sow as a follower, you will reap in leadership.