In this final section of 1st Corinthians, Paul mentions a bunch of leaders that were familiar to the church in the city of Corinth. At one point, he urges the church to submit to it’s leaders. Submit is such an ugly word. It has definitely been abused by many leaders. As a leader in a church I can hardly stomach hearing those words on my lips. “Submit, you peons!” It’s so brutal.
I know that it is much easy to submit to leaders who are awesome leaders. Paul describes the leaders that way. They were mature, faithful, caring leaders, and as such, the people should submit. I don’t know that good leaders will make it easy to submit for all followers. Some of us just have a hard time submitting to anyone. I think Paul is saying that it is possible to submit to leaders and not hate it.
What does it look like to submit to leaders? Here are some thoughts.
Pray for them! Regularly. Make it a part of your daily practice to pray for the leaders in your church. Pray that they will be able to depend on the Spirit’s power to serve as leaders, that they will have wisdom and guidance.
Submit to their decisions, even when you disagree. It is possible to disagree with leadership and still humbly submit and follow their lead.
Talk with them about your concerns. It is possible to present ourselves when we are concerned and disagree with leaders, in a loving way.
What do we do when we disagree and are concerned about a decision that our voted on leadership has decided on?
First, we need to ask ourselves humbly and honestly (and we need to get wise mature people to evaluate us in this as well): Are we being influenced by consumer culture? Consumer culture is the water we swim in. We get to consume, we get to have choices about what we consume. We don’t like one brand, we go with one of the 15 other brands. We do that for everything. We have learned a sense of entitlement that has us thinking that we deserve choices. And it is our right, and what is best for us, when we don’t like what we get, that we can make another choice. The same goes for churches
But what about learning to submit to leaders, and allowing them to fulfill their God-given role of leading? Even when we don’t like how they are leading? Even when we disagree? Yes, it is possible! Maybe we just need to try.